Centenary of Passchendaele Remembered

Researcher Chris Stupples has listed 31 men from Shaftesbury and District who died in the ill-fated Allied offensive of autumn 1917, known also as the Third Battle of Ypres. The display in Room 8 of Gold Hill Museum highlights brief biographies of eight: Privates Harry Gray, Walter Hodder, Arthur Mayo, and Tom Roberts; Gunners Charles King, Wilfred Merefield, and Frederick Sweeting; and Bombardier Frank Brine. The dates of their deaths recorded on local memorials span the full duration of the Battle from 31 July (Frank Brine) to 10 November (Tom Roberts). Five miles of swamp cost 300,000 Allied casualties.

Great Houses near Shaftesbury and their Owners

Local History Librarian and Archivist Ray Simpson has created a new display on the histories of great estates within easy reach of Shaftesbury. These include Old and New Wardour Castles (film locations for Robin Hood and Billy Elliott respectively), Ferne House at Donhead St Andrew, Pythouse (scene of a Swing Riot in 1830), Stourhead, and Fonthill. Most of William Beckford’s Gothic Fonthill Abbey (pictured) has disappeared and several of these properties are still privately owned. Ray’s exhibition is, however, easily accessible on the first floor landing outside the Library of Gold Hill Museum, 10.30 to 4.30 daily until October 31.

Alfred's only contemporary portrait

Alfred the Great comes third in BBC History Magazine Hot 100 List

Readers of BBC History Magazine have voted King Alfred, founder of Shaftesbury Abbey, into third place in the History Hot 100 for 2017. Alfred was pipped to the post by Eleanor of Aquitaine and Richard III. Decide for yourself whether Alfred deserves this rating by attending this year’s Teulon Porter Memorial Lecture at Shaftesbury Town Hall at 7.30p.m. on Tuesday 03 October. Professor Barbara Yorke, Professor Emerita of Early Medieval History at the University of Winchester, will give an illustrated talk on King Alfred: Man and Myth. Professor Yorke, a leading and much-published expert on the Anglo-Saxons, is an engaging speaker. Admission is free to members of The Shaftesbury & District Historical Society while non-members may pay £5 at the door.

Churchyard Statue (3)

Decapitated Statue – but where and of whom?

The Shaftesbury & District Historical Society is shortly to publish its programme of lectures for 2017-18. At 2.30 p.m. on 02 January 2018 in the Garden Room at Gold Hill Museum historian and writer Dave Martin will discuss Cast Bronze Reputations; statues in the Wessex street. Dave promises that all the statues featured will be visible to the public and within 50 miles of Shaftesbury. But where is the somewhat decayed stone statue in the photograph? (Please click on the image to see the whole statue.) Who is the headless figure and for what was he well-known? A year’s membership of The S&DHS for the first entirely correct answers submitted to Gold Hill Museum.

Trustees elected at 2017 AGM

King Alfred backs Trustees

At the July AGM of The Shaftesbury & District Historical Society, four very good servants and supporters of Gold Hill Museum were elected or re-elected as Trustees. With King Alfred looking on, they were (from left to right) Ken Howe, Sheena Commons, Janet Swiss and Ray Simpson. After 15 years’ sterling service, John Parker has decided to retire. The Society would be delighted to hear from any volunteer willing to take on John’s Buildings brief, or one of several other important roles such as Fundraiser, Administrator, Lecture Co-ordinator, or Minutes Secretary. For further details, please phone 01747 852157 or email enquiries@goldhillmuseum.org.uk