A newly-minted blue plaque, the first to recognise the life and contribution of a Shaftesbury individual, has been delivered to Gold Hill Museum, the HQ of The Shaftesbury & District Historical Society. John Rutter, the subject of the plaque, was a doughty campaigner for the extension of democracy, the abolition of slavery, and the improvement of local education and living conditions during the first half of the nineteenth century. His bookseller’s, stationery and printing shop was at Number 2, The Commons, where the plaque will be installed in August 2021. The S&DHS project has been spearheaded by Honorary President Sir John Stuttard, whose book The Turbulent Quaker of Shaftesbury (2018), did much to raise awareness of John Rutter’s reformist pedigree. A generous grant towards half the cost has been pledged by Shaftesbury Town Council.
In the Winter 2020-21 Byzant, the occasional newsletter of The S&DHS, Sir John looks at the origins of Shaftesbury’s existing blue plaques as well as Rutter’s career as a reformer. Beatrice King offers Some Recollections of Shaftesbury Life 1937-59 as told to her by her late mother Rosemary and recalling the work of her grandmother Rita Edwards as Head of Cann School. Chris Stupples explains how he came to be involved in researching and inputting over a thousand Great War biographies into the Shaftesbury Remembers website (1103 by the beginning of December). Ian Kellett provides an account of life from November 1914 onwards for British internees In Ruhleben Camp, focussing on a Bristol seaman with a local connection, and footballer Steve Bloomer who was ‘the Lionel Messi of his day’. Dave Hardiman tells the salutary story of William Sims (1808-1852), a petty thief and housebreaker from Cann, whose death sentence at the age of 21 was commuted to transportation to Australia. This 34 page full-colour edition also includes Elaine Barratt’s Chairman’s Chat, the minutes of the September online AGM, a report of the BBC South Today visit to Gold Hill Museum in October, and an update on events at Shaftesbury Abbey Museum from Claire Ryley.
Members of The S&DHS should have received their printed issue by post or hand delivery. If not, please contact us at Gold Hill Museum. We have a few spare copies available for sale to non-members at cost price (£1.50 per copy).