Cottingley fairiesA spellbinding exhibition to mark the centenary of the Cottingley Fairies hoax is running all summer at Cliffe Castle.

Fairy Folklore features photographs and sketches that belonged to the Elsie Wright and her cousin Frances Griffiths.

Visitors can see fascinating items owned by the mischievous girls, who convinced the public that they had taken photographs of genuine fairies at Cottingley Beck, close to where they lived.

Family photograph albums have been lent to Cliffe Castle Museum by Elsie's son Glenn as part of a summer exhibition that is running until October 8.

Alongside the photos are a pencil drawing of Titania, Queen of the Fairies, drawn by Elsie in 1917 - the year the photographs were taken - and a gnome figurine she created.

Coun Sarah Ferriby, Bradford Council's Executive Member for Environment, Sport and Culture, said: "People all over the world have been intrigued by how the two cousins fooled many people - including the famous Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - that the fairies in the photos were real.

"These photo albums are on display for the first time in the UK and we are proud to have them in Keighley. They are absolutely fascinating and I hope as many people as possible can come and see them."

When Elsie first took the Cottingley fairy photos, she was just 16 years-old and her cousin was nine years-old. 

Elsie was a talented artist and had also spent time working in a photographer's studio. She had drawn the fairies and then stuck the cardboard cut-outs on hat pins.

The photos became public in 1919 through the Theosophical Society in Bradford and they quickly caught the imagination of the public.

The girls finally admitted the photos were fakes although Frances always said that the fifth and final one of the photos was genuine. However, she too admitted that was also fake shortly before her death in 1986.

The cameras used and photographic plates were donated to the former National Museum of Photography, Film and Television - now known as the National Media and Science Museum.

The photographs have also inspired books, artworks, plays, television programmes and films over the past 100 years and people still admire the ingenuity of the young girls’ camera skills and their ability to keep the secret for so many years.

Cliffe Castle Museum is open from Tuesday to Friday, 10am - 4pm, and on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays from 11am - 4pm.

The exhibition is free and you can also wander around the many other extraordinary displays in the museum which include Egyptian mummies, stuffed animals and geological artefacts!

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