John Nevil Maskelyne


A talk by Andy Mellor on John Nevil Maskelyne – Gloucestershire’s Master of Magic & Mystery. Andy’s interest in magic was sparked at an early age, when he was presented with a magic set one Christmas. continued below..........

Andy's long-suffering family were subjected to a variety of magic shows in the ensuing years. 

He first came across John Nevil Maskelyne after purchasing a book at a magic convention which explored the lives of famous and influential magicians. Having discovered that Maskelyne was born in Cheltenham, Andy’s home town for over 30 years, he began to delve deeper into the life of this extraordinary man. 

When not exploring the past, Andy has worked as a headteacher, storyteller, actor and latterly as a bookseller at Waterstones in Gloucester. 

He continues to practise his magic (badly) and test the patience of those unfortunate enough to live with him. 


John Nevil Maskelyne.....

......or ‘The Chief’, as he’s known in magic circles, was born in Cheltenham in 1839. He began his career as a professional magician having exposed two American spiritualists at the Town Hall (now the site of The Everyman Theatre). He still holds the record for the longest continuous running magic show in British history.

During his talk, Andy will explore the life of this fascinating man, from his earliest years in Cheltenham, which were to shape the rest of his life, to his time at Egyptian Hall in London and beyond.

Magician, author and inventor, Maskelyne also found time to create the penny lock for the toilet, giving rise to the expression ‘going to spend a penny.’ He is still honoured by the Magic Circle who present an annual award in his name.

The talk is illustrated with power point and includes one or two magic tricks along the way! It will be held on Friday 29th March at 7.30pm at the Wotton-under-Edge Civic Centre. Members of the Historical Society have free entry, visitors are asked for a donation of £5.00 each. Refreshments are available after the talk.

The Historical Society

If you are interested in local or family history and want to meet others with similar interests, The Historical Society and Heritage Centre is the organisation to join. By becoming a member you will also be able to attend our lectures as well as participate in the many social events, excursions and other activities we sponsor throughout the year. In addition you will receive our annual journal and newsletters.

Please visit the Society page to find out more.