Shaftesbury Remembers The Great War

In March 2015 Gold Hill Museum received £6,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a project to research the personal stories and experiences of people from Shaftesbury and the surrounding villages during the Great War.

Awarded through HLF’s First World War Then and Now programme, the project has focused on how the war affected daily life, individuals and communities in the Shaftesbury area, working with as many local sources of information as possible. We asked people to share their family and other stories, building a unique archive to be made available to all, both on–line and through a dedicated computer terminal in the museum. A new permanent display shows objects kindly donated during the project, and folders of the collected stories may be handled.

We were very keen to involve local schools, local retirement homes and the British Legion, but everyone was very welcome to take part in the project, as we needed volunteers for a range of interesting and diverse roles. There were opportunities to learn new computer, research and interviewing skills; and cataloguing and organising materials for the archive. We employed professional trainers so that volunteers could learn new skills, and produce the best results.

We held Open Day Events to recruit volunteers and contributors, and have shared the results of our research by giving talks to a wide range of groups. We also linked up with other organisations and groups working on similar projects, so together  we could provide the most extensive record possible of the effect of the Great War in the local area.

We felt it was very important to collect these stories before they are lost forever, and to share them with future generations. They will give local communities a much fuller understanding of the part that local people played in the Great War, and help us all appreciate the significance of names on war memorials, and the sacrifices of the individuals they represent.

The project is now in its final stages, with the official launch of the Shaftesbury Remembers website to be announced soon. It is the result of a great deal of enthusiasm, hard work and support from a wide range of people, for which the project co-ordinators, Ann Symons and Claire Ryley, are very grateful.


World War Project