Satan visits Manchester
John Dee (1527-c.1608) was, by repute, the real-life Dr. Faustus (see above). A phenomenally learned man, he matriculated at St John’s College, Cambridge, aged just 15, and was elected as an original fellow at Henry VIII’s new Trinity College at the same university. He became astrological and scientific advisor to Queen Elizabeth I, and under her patronage amassed the largest library in the country, which contained a staggering 2, 670 manuscripts, more than four times the number owned by Oxford and Cambridge Universities. He also advised Elizabeth on foreign policy, urging colonial expansion and coining the term, ‘British Empire’.
However, as a scientist working at a time when people were terrified of sorcery, he was long-suspected of being a sort of warlock or necromancer. After all, scientists and witches both conducted loud and smelly experiments in considerable secrecy. However, like the fictional Dr. Faustus, he was in fact interested in the Occult, having mastered every other discipline. His attempts to conjure spirits saw him briefly imprisoned for heresy in 1555. Unfortunately, the rumours about him were so damaging that Elizabeth was forced to remove Dee as her advisor and appoint him Warden of the Manchester Collegiate Church in 1596.
Dee quite literally left his mark on Manchester. Publishing books on esoteric numerology and conversations with angels and owning occult books did not help his reputation with his new colleagues, and it is said that one night in Manchester he succeeded in summoning The Devil himself. Satan appeared upon a table, and left a circular burn mark from his cloven hoof which can still be seen today. Despite the unlikelihood of the story, Dee was forced to leave Manchester, and lived out his final impoverished days at home near London. His occult work is still popular with aspiring warlocks today.