A Cabinet of Curiosities Briefly Opened

On 02 August professional photographer Paul McCabe of Southampton Photographic called at Gold Hill Museum to take publicity shots of people enjoying the Museum. His mission was also to photograph an object which will, for promotional purposes, form part of a “Cabinet of Curiosities” held by several North Dorset Museums. Gold Hill’s curiosity is exactly that: a richly carved alabaster panel found hidden behind the fireplace of a house in Shaftesbury High Street in the early 1920’s. It was probably created by the prestigious Nottingham School of alabaster carvers in the fifteenth century as an altar piece for Shaftesbury Abbey. Opinions differ as to who is shown being entombed. Is it St Catherine on Mount Sinai? Or is St Edward the Martyr, whose remains were buried at the Abbey? The panel, still showing traces of its original colours, was handled with great care and is now securely back in its display cases.