Our benefactor , Miss Eugenia Emmelian Havisham, was born in Glastonbury England on November 18, 1833. The Havisham’s were a well to do family that had made a substantial living as art dealers and antiquities dealers for a number of museums and private collectors. Miss Havisham was only a precocious six-year old when she started to join her Father, Lord Byron Havisham, on his expeditions.
Her thirst for the unknown and the other-worldly drove her to the hallowed halls of Cambridge and Oxford where her father paid considerable sums for her to study archeology, astronomy, cryptozoology and a number of other subjects. Still the life of academia grew boring and she dropped out to go on an expedition with her uncle Lord Bryon Havisham to the dark continent. Lord Bryon was somewhat the black sheep of the family. He dealt in back alley antiquities that had been “found” throughout the world. His brother Lord Havisham hated him, but put up with his escapades because of the love that Eugenia had for him.
On their journey to the dark continent she was exposed to what was known at the time as Dark Antiquities. The items that the sought were no found in any book or tome she had read at university. Many seemed to be derivative of species of flora and fauna that she knew of but they were otherworldly in there evolution. Her eyes beheld such wonders that would make Darwin rewrite his theories (which she pointed out to his several times). In her fourth year spent with her uncle, she began a relationship with Lord Bryon’s apprentice from Africa, Norah Thomas. As progressive as the Havishams were, Lord Havisham forbid the relationship between the two. There was no place in their society for the two and increasingly so for the dark skinned Norah.
Eugenia and Norah struck out on their own and spent nearly fifteen-years travelling the globe and amassing some of the most curated and bespoke curiosities. They vowed that if society wouldn’t recognize them that they were too close minded to even comprehend, much less understand, the items that they had discovered. Norah was struck down with scarlet fever in the summer of 1854 while they were in Scandinavia. Eugenia was utter crushed by the loss of her love and retreated for three years out of the reach of her family.
Re-emerging into the world, she threw herself back into her work with abandon. She made her worldly journeys her partner in life. She traveled from country to country seeking anything that was more curious than the last artifact or little creature that she found. For years and years she would send what she discovered to the to a massive private home in Eastern England where she would return to only a few times a year.
Eugenia’s frequent contact with the otherworldly beings has slowed her aging. For almost every decade that passes she has aged only a few years. This “little gift” as she calls it has allowed her to see the passing of the ages. She has witnessed some of the most beautiful treasures the world has to offer, hidden and not hidden, as well as the atrocities that the world inflicts on itself.
In the late 60’s she started to see that the wonderment of the world was fast fading and that if she did not do something about it that it would be utter lost. With that loss would come the loss of hope. The loss of imagination. A loss of curiosity in the the long ago people and stories that have sustained human beings for centuries. She vowed that she would awaken the curios in all of us.
As part of her mission to restore curiosity and wonderment, Miss Havisham has helped us establish a refuge for the curious, the odd and the different. All that we ask is that for the time you spend with us that you suspend what you may believe to be true, factual or real. Let your mind wonder past the banality of your day to day and for the briefest of moments step into the realm of the forgotten and the fantastic.