Operation Warhorse by Julian Richards

The Shaftesbury & District Historical Society’s January lecturer is local archaeologist and broadcaster Julian Richards. At 2.30p.m. on Tuesday 05 January 2016 at Gold Hill Museum, Julian will be telling the real story of horses during the First World War, based on his recent excavation of an equine hospital on Salisbury Plain. This lecture is free to members and non-members may pay £3 at the door.

The Horse Artillery Gunner in the photograph is Harold Edwards [1897-1985] of Street, Somerset. His story has been archived by the Society’s Heritage Lottery Funded Great War Project, and is told in more detail in the December edition of The Byzant, the S&DHS Newsletter.

Dickensians meet Alfred The Great

Visitors to Gold Hill Museum’s late-night Christmas shopping experience on Friday 04 December were welcomed by a cast of historical characters. Ken Howe could have stepped down from the traction engine steaming in The Commons, and Janet Swiss out of her Tudor mural of the Byzant ceremony. Elaine Barratt in full Victorian garb of bonnet and crinoline squeezed into the kitchen to provide excellent hot and spicy mulled wine. Even the Secretary donned a muffler and top hat.

More Christmas family fun is promised in the Garden Room on Sunday afternoon 06 December, 2.00 till 4.00p.m.

Dorset Clay Pipes

Dorset Clay Pipes

December’s lecturer, Robert Lancaster, brought an array of examples and a wealth of knowledge of his subject, Dorset clay pipes. By looking at the size and shape of the bowl, and any imprints on the bowl or stem, he could identify the period of a pipe and frequently the location and name of its maker. Pipes were often given away with the purchase of beer or tobacco, and so pipe-makers were usually poor and illiterate. In Wareham in 2011-12 Robert excavated the site of the kiln of Augustus Moore, who in 1834 was convicted of theft and sentenced to be transported for seven years. It is doubtful whether he ever returned to his five children and wife Sarah, who was listed as a pauper in 1861. The advent of cigarettes at much the same time put paid to the craft of clay pipe-making. Members of the audience, including Shaftesbury students Ella and Bethany, were intrigued by Mr Lancaster’s account of the rise and fall, and the bewildering variety, of clay pipes.

Christmas Fun

Christmas Fun at Gold Hill Museum

Sunday 6th December 2015 – 2-4pm

Free Event All Welcome

Handbells, stories, craft activities, and help us decorate our tree.
Refreshments included.
Children must be accompanied by an adult.
No booking required

Click here for poster

November News

Gold Hill Museum closed its doors at the end of the regular season on Sunday 01 November. About 25 of the volunteer stewards who contributed the 2580 hours required to keep the Museum open every day from 28 March attended a social event, at which they were thanked for their dedication. As a result 20,267 visitors were able to enjoy the permanent and temporary exhibitions, and make the donations and purchases which are the lifeblood of the Museum.
On Monday 02 November the Secretary and Treasurer of The Shaftesbury & District Historical Society attended the Shaftesbury in Bloom celebration evening wearing their gardening hats. They were surprised and delighted to receive first prize in the Gardens of Public Buildings category [photograph]. The Museum and its garden will be open to the public during the Shaftesbury Snowdrop Festival in February 2016, when there should be significantly more snowdrops on display, and an opportunity to try out a new garden seat donated by friends of the late Leonore Schafarik.
On Tuesday 01 December at 2.30p.m. Robert Lancaster will give a talk at Gold Hill Museum on the subject of “Dorset Clay Pipes”. Audience members are invited to bring samples for dating. This event is free to S&DHS members and visitors may pay £3 at the door. From 6 till 8.00p.m. on the evening of Friday 04 December visitors to the Museum and its shop can expect mulled wine and mince pies, while traditional Christmas Family Fun activities take place on the afternoon of Sunday 06 December.

Teulon Porter Memorial Lecture

New President of The Shaftesbury & District Historical Society, Jo Rutter [photograph, left] prefaced the Teulon Porter Memorial Lecture given in Shaftesbury Town Hall on the evening of 06 October by Professor Peter Clarke [photograph, right] with some amusing recollections of Noel Teulon Porter in the 1950s. In his lecture “Sin in Salisbury Diocese” Professor Clarke set the Papal Penitentiary, the highest church office concerned with the forgiveness of sins, in the context of medieval religious belief and practice. The records of the Penitentiary have been accessible in the Vatican only since 1983; so far Professor Clarke has found and translated 100 petitions from individuals in the Salisbury diocese, 18 of whom were seeking dispensations to marry otherwise disqualified relatives, and 17 dispensations to overcome defects in their qualifications for ordination as clergy, such as extreme youth or illegitimacy. The nuns of Shaftesbury petitioned the Pope for the use of a portable altar, presumably to carry to the outlying granges of the Abbey estates. Depending on future funding, Professor Clarke hopes to examine the Penitentiary registers dating from 1503 to 1569, when members of The S&DHS may be able to help with identifying petitioners and sources relating to them.
On 20 October the funeral took place at Salisbury of Christine Simpson. Christine was in charge of Collection Care during the hectic days of Gold Hill Museum’s redevelopment, when thousands of artefacts had to be packed, transported and stored off-site. When the builders had finished, the same objects had to be returned, unpacked and stored or displayed. Having retired from this demanding voluntary role, Christine continued to be involved in the preparation of temporary exhibitions and in researching aspects of local history with her husband Ray. Gold Hill Museum is arguably one of Shaftesbury’s prime assets and Christine Simpson played a significant role in making it so.