Shaftesbury Camera Club Exhibition at Gold Hill Museum

Following last year’s successful Photographic Exhibition held over a holiday weekend, Shaftesbury Camera Club are returning to the Anna McDowell Garden Room at Gold Hill Museum for a week long show. The Exhibition of top quality prints will run from Saturday 30 April until Friday 06 May, 10.30a.m to 4.30p.m. Entry is free to both the Exhibition and the Museum. The image of Swanage Pier was kindly provided by David Lampard of the Camera Club.


Reminiscence Afternoon 2.30 – 3.30 Tuesday 29 March at Shaftesbury Library

Ann Symons and Claire Ryley are holding a further Reminiscence Afternoon at Shaftesbury Library, on Tuesday 29 March between 2.30 and 3.30p.m. The focus of interest on this occasion will be family stories of the experiences of Prisoners of War and internees, during both World Wars. There will be tea and cakes and the opportunity to examine documents and artefacts from the Gold Hill Museum Collection. Further details of this free event and of the Gold Hill Museum Great War Community Project can be obtained by contacting Ann and Claire via or by phoning 01747 852157.

Life in Shaftesbury and Tisbury Workhouses

A new exhibition for 2016 created by Librarian and Archivist Ray Simpson tells the story of two local workhouses. In 1834 Parliament was keen to cut the welfare bill and the Poor Law Amendment Act abolished the practice of giving outdoor relief to the able-bodied poor. Recipients of welfare now had to enter the workhouse, where conditions were made deliberately unpleasant to discourage claimants. Ray’s fascinating exhibition couples extracts from letters and documents detailing the foundation of the new workhouses in Shaftesbury and Tisbury with episodes in the lives of unfortunate inmates: Martha Street and Eliza Tucker, jailed in 1869 for “fighting, quarrelling and making use of most obscene and profane language”; the Tisbury vagrant punished in 1907 for refusing to break stones for fear of losing his one good eye. This display is outside the Museum Library on the first floor and will run until October.

34035 “Shaftesbury” arrives at Gold Hill Museum

“Shaftesbury” was one of the Southern Railway Company’s “West Country” class of steam locomotives. She hauled trains across the South and West from 1946 to 1963, and was scrapped at the British Railways works in Eastleigh in 1964. One of her two name-plates was presented to Shaftesbury Borough Council in 1964 by former BR Works Manager Mr J.T. Hillier. This has now been kindly loaned to the Museum by the Town Council, together with an OO gauge model of the original engine and tender given by Mr W.R. Sherriff. Helping to fix the model in its bespoke case above the name-plate in time for the 19 March opening are Peter Campbell-Orde of Framers of Shaftesbury and S&DHS Trustee John Parker.

The Language of the Fan at Gold Hill Museum

Gold Hill Museum re-opens on Saturday 19 March with many new items on display. The main temporary exhibition features a selection of breathtakingly beautiful Ladies’ Fans from the 19th and early 20th centuries. The history of their use is explained, together with their secret language. It could be that Sheena Commons (left) and Margaret Baxter are signalling “Follow me” or “I’d like to make your acquaintance.” Also involved in the preparation of this stunning exhibition were Maureen Bottom, Lesley Frost and Gill Hutchings, who are all delighted that a previously unseen part of the Museum Collection is on public view. An A4 poster “The Language of the Fan” is available in the Museum Shop.

New Face in the Garden at Gold Hill Museum

Biffo the Gargoyle has taken up residence in the Museum Garden. At least the Head Gardener thinks that he “bears” [groan] some resemblance to the one-time cover star of the children’s comic, the “Beano”.  Biffo was carved and donated by Gordon Blackwell from Blandford. Gordon has been a great contributor to our Heritage Lottery Funded Great War Project and the 2014 exhibition from which the Project grew.  Supporting Biffo is THE stone – weighing 14lbs – found by Ken Howe for last year’s Rule of Thumb exhibition on the History of Weights and Measures. Biffo has joined the Garden Gallery newly published on the Museum website.

Dorset Mayors Visit Gold Hill Museum

Over 30 Dorset Mayors and their consorts visited Gold Hill Museum on the afternoon of Sunday 21 February. They were the guests of Shaftesbury Mayor and Mayoress Richard and Karen Tippins during their Civic Day, and had previously visited Swan’s Yard, the Arts Centre, Trinity Grounds, and the Heritage Snowdrop Collection at the Abbey Museum. Newly appointed Chairman of The Shaftesbury & District Historical Society, David Silverside [centre], was delighted to greet the assembled civic dignitaries, who were also addressed by The S&DHS President Jo Rutter. Jo gratefully acknowledged the part played by the Town Hall in housing the Museum in its early days, before it moved to various premises on Gold Hill.

Ancestry Afternoon Friday 26 February Fully Booked

The opportunity to uncover Family History with the help of experienced researchers via the Ancestry website has been snapped up. Claire Ryley and Ann Symons organised the Ancestry Afternoon at Shaftesbury Library on Friday 26 February from 1.30 to 3.00p.m. under the aegis of The Shaftesbury & District Historical Society’s Heritage Lottery Funded Great War Project. All the slots have been filled, but Claire and Ann can be contacted about future plans at

Equally popular at Gold Hill Museum this week were the Snowdrop Festival midweek craft sessions and Anna McDowell’s Saturday Dorset Buttons Workshop. All sold out.

Gold Hill Museum is open to visitors until 4.30p.m. on Sunday 21 February, and re-opens for the main season on Saturday 19 March. There is no admission charge, but donations are welcome.



Reminiscence Afternoon Tuesday 23 February 2.30 – 3.30p.m.

In conjunction with Shaftesbury Library, Claire Ryley and Ann Symons are running a Reminiscence Afternoon on Tuesday 23 February from 2.30 to 3.30p.m. Participants in this free event at Shaftesbury Library will be able to discover more about life in Shaftesbury and the surrounding villages at the time of the First World War. There will be the opportunity to share family stories and examine objects from Gold Hill Museum’s collections over tea and cake. For further details, please contact Claire and Ann at

Open Free Admission

Gold Hill Museum Open for the Snowdrop Festival

Take refuge from February’s biting winds in the light and warmth of Gold Hill Museum. Bring a young family member to one of the snowdrop-themed craft workshops on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday morning, 16-18 February. Learn how to make a Dorset Button at one of Anna McDowell’s expert tutorials on Friday morning or Saturday afternoon, 19-20 February. [Please book tickets in advance for these activities from Shaftesbury TIC or Arts Centre.] Venture outside to the winter corner in the Museum Garden. Take home a snowdrop souvenir from the Museum Shop. Our friendly volunteer stewards will be delighted to assist you.