Entries by Ian Kellett

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

To settle enormous debts, slaveowner William Beckford put the money pit that was Fonthill Abbey up for sale in 1822. Where did his treasures go? In the first instance, to a single purchaser – John Farquhar, a Scottish gunpowder manufacturer. This was not the outcome of the much-hyped public auction, but a private sale negotiated […]

400 Years of Dorset Buttons

Shaftesbury can lay claim to being the cradle of the Dorset Button industry. Early buttons were hand-made using sheep’s horn and wool, readily available in North Dorset. In 1622 Abraham Case moved to Shaftesbury and set up the first commercial button making enterprise. Originally from Gloucestershire, he had been a professional soldier in Europe where […]

Fonthill Fever Breaking Out At Gold Hill Museum

Two hundred years ago the reclusive owner and creator of Fonthill Abbey, William Beckford, decided that he had no option but to sell the Gothic-style Abbey and its near-priceless contents. The Fonthill estate was surrounded by six miles of forbidding stone walls and few outsiders had seen even the exterior of the Abbey, let alone […]

Saving Evidence of Shaftesbury Life for Future Reference

Heather Blake had no previous experience of archives when she joined the Gold Hill Museum volunteer team in June 2021. She has now worked through thirteen boxes of documents, reading, classifying, and wrapping the contents in acid-free paper for storage in museum-standard containers. A training day with Helena Jaeschke from South West Museums equipped her […]

How To Build An Elizabethan Theatre – With No Surviving Plans

Conservation Architect Paul Simons talks on Tuesday 01 March 2.30p.m. at Gold Hill Museum Shaftesbury on “Reconstructing the Theatres of Shakespeare’s Time – the Globe and the Wanamaker Playhouse”. The original Globe opened on the South Bank of the Thames in 1599. It was owned by six of the troupe of actors known as the […]

In The Footsteps of Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy fan and expert Alban O’Brien (above) previews his Tuesday 01 February 2.30 talk at Gold Hill Museum in an entertaining interview with ThisisAlfred’s Keri Jones. Alban reveals that one of his reasons for moving to Dorset was his passion for Hardy’s writings. As a leader of literary tours Alban has scouted all the […]

Great War Researcher Chris Posts 1300th Life Story

On 07 January 2022 Shaftesbury & District Historical Society volunteer Chris Stupples passed another milestone when he posted the 1300th life story researched and written by him on the Shaftesbury Remembers website. In August 2020 Chris had just clocked up a thousand mini-biographies, as reported in this News Blog . A year later it was […]

Thomas Hardy 01 February Talk is ON

Thomas Hardy fan and all-round literary expert Alban O’Brien will be at Gold Hill Museum at 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday 01 February to talk about “Thomas Hardy: the Novels, the Novelist and North Dorset.” Alban is a guide at Hardy’s Cottage and a member of the New Hardy Players. He is in demand as a […]

Making Our Local History Library More Accessible

Gold Hill Museum volunteer Jeanette Hardiman in the process of accessioning a copy of The Art of a Salesman, kindly donated by its author, Paul Whittaker in October 2021. Jeanette has been through the entire stock of the Museum’s Reference Library – over 1300 volumes – entering basic information such as Title, Author, Date of […]

Bumper Byzant Magazine Marks 75 Years of The S&DHS

As 2021 ebbs away there is just time to note that The Shaftesbury & District Historical Society was founded 75 years ago in 1946. The first meeting of The S&DHS was held in the Town Hall on 05 June 1946 and the Western Gazette report of the event (unearthed by Rupert Tapper) is reproduced in […]