Smith and Jones Design The Cabinet of Curiosities

Chris Jones of Smith and Jones Design Consultants popped into Gold Hill Museum to position the graphic panels for the North Dorset Museums’ Cabinet of Curiosities publicity campaign at half-term. Pride of place on the front page of the campaign leaflet goes to Gold Hill Museum’s medieval carved alabaster panel showing the entombment of St Catherine – or is it Edward the Martyr? This art treasure was discovered in the 1920’s concealed in the wall of a house in Shaftesbury High Street. St Edward features in Shaftesbury Abbey’s display, while Blandford Museum, Sturminster Newton Museum and Sturminster Newton Mill also contribute to the Cabinet of Curiosities. As the leaflet proclaims: visit them all! Further details at

Walter Bagehot – A Voice of Sanity

On Tuesday 01 November at 2.30p.m. in the Garden Room at Gold Hill Museum, Parliamentary and constitutional consultant Barry Winetrobe will talk about Langport’s most famous son Walter Bagehot. One of the early editors of The Economist, Bagehot stressed the importance of the central bank as a bank of last resort in the event of a financial crisis, but is probably better known for his classic political commentary on The English Constitution. Though written in the 1860s and 70s, Bagehot’s works contain insights no less relevant today. As Chair of the Bagehot Memorial Fund, Barry Winetrobe has been instrumental in reviving interest in Bagehot, who had an asteroid named after him before being rediscovered by his home town at the heart of the Somerset Levels. This lecture is free to members of The Shaftesbury & District Historical Society, while non-members may pay £3 at the door. Further details via 01747 852157 or

Bumper Audience for “The Beckfords at Fonthill”

Ninety-plus Shaftesbury & District Historical Society members and guests crammed into the Town Hall on Tuesday evening 04 October to hear Professor Caroline Dakers give an engaging and informative Teulon Porter Memorial Lecture. The advertised title was The Beckfords at Fonthill  but in fact Professor Dakers ranged over the builders and owners of six mansions in the Fonthill area, from the late sixteenth to the twenty-first centuries. Not all were as eccentric or ambitious as William Beckford, ruined by a collapse in the price of sugar, but many were movers and shakers, and at least two were beheaded. John Bradshaw, who presided over the trial of Charles I in a bullet-proof hat, lost his head posthumously. The question was posed as to why such a small area of Wiltshire should attract so many repeated displays of built wealth. Professor Dakers plans to answer many other questions about Fonthill in a book to be published within a year or so.

Venue for The Beckfords at Fonthill

The subject of the 2016 Teulon Porter Lecture for The Shaftesbury & District Historical Society, given by Professor Caroline Dakers, is “The Beckfords at Fonthill.” The venue is Shaftesbury Town Hall (above), at 7.30p.m. on Tuesday 04 October. This event is free to S & DHS members, while non-members may pay £5 at the door. (Annual membership is available on the night and costs £15 for an individual, £25 for a family, and £3 for a student.) Please use the entrance at the left-hand side of the building, as you look at it from the High Street. Free parking is available after 6p.m. in the car park accessible from Bleke or Bell Streets, adjacent to Budgens supermarket. This is within 5 minutes’ walk and just around the corner from the Town Hall.