Welcome to Gold Hill Museum

Shaftesbury and District’s local history museum with an award-winning cottage garden and wonderful views over Thomas Hardy’s Blackmore Vale.

Opening Hours 2022

Open Every Day From Friday 01 April

10.30a.m. to 4.30p.m. with Last Entry at 4.10p.m.

NEW:  “Fonthill Fever” – the 1822-23 Sales of William Beckford’s Fonthill Abbey

400 Years of Dorset Buttons

“Jude the Obscure” Locations in Hardy’s Shaston

Free Admission

Donations and New Volunteers Welcome

At the top of picturesque Gold Hill, well known for the Hovis “Boy on a Bike” advert, this modern museum is set in two historic buildings. One was once the priest’s house and still has a “squint” through the wall to St Peter’s church; the other provided basic lodgings for traders at the market on Gold Hill.

Eight galleries tell the story of rural and town life, starting even before Shaftesbury’s notional foundation by Alfred the Great. Highlights of the collection include the unique Byzant, carried during annual celebrations of the securing of the water supply, so vital to a hilltop town; Dorset’s oldest fire engine, dating from 1744; fine lacework and costumes; handmade Dorset buttons; and a mummified Dorset cat.

Gold Hill Museum is owned and managed by volunteers of The Shaftesbury & District Historical Society, a registered charity. You can read about the range of activities of The S&DHS in the Diary of Events, Library, and Lectures & Speakers pages, in the “About Us” and “Events” menus, and in our recent News Blogs and Newsletters.

The S&DHS

Thanks to the foresight of its founders, The Shaftesbury & District Historical Society owns Gold Hill Museum. The Society is an entirely voluntary organisation and in normal years receives no public funding towards the running costs of the Museum. Please contact us if you can help by becoming a member, a volunteer or a donor. Thank you.

News Blog Latest

Hardy’s Wessex Landscapes – From Casterbridge to Shaston

The largest ever multi-venue show of objects from the life and…

Beckford’s Fonthill Abbey Treasures – Where Can They Be Seen?

To settle enormous debts, slaveowner William Beckford put the…

400 Years of Dorset Buttons

Shaftesbury can lay claim to being the cradle of the Dorset…

Fonthill Fever Breaking Out At Gold Hill Museum

Two hundred years ago the reclusive owner and creator of Fonthill…

Saving Evidence of Shaftesbury Life for Future Reference

Heather Blake had no previous experience of archives when she…

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