Museum Collection

Local life and history are portrayed through artefacts, costume, photos, ceramics, tools, musical instruments, domestic items and the town’s first fire engine – a hand-drawn pumping machine.

Dorset buttons, were an important local cottage industry, founded in 1622.  They were mounted on different-coloured cards according to quality (right).

The Byzant is a reminder of an ancient and long-standing annual ceremony to honour the Lord of the Manor of Gillingham for allowing the hilltop town of Shaftesbury to use water from springs in the village of Enmore Green below. Each year Shaftesbury residents processed downhill with the Byzant, a decorative mace, to offer a calf’s head, a purse of coins, a pair of gloves and loaves of bread to the Lord. This was accompanied by ale and wine for the celebration which ensued. Finally, in 1830, the carefully accounted costs were judged too dear by the town council, and the ceremony ceased.

Gold Hill Museum actively collects items of local history. We are always pleased to hear from local people or those with past links to the Shaftesbury area who can add information to our records. If you would like to donate items, please contact us first before bringing them to the Museum.

About the collection area

The museum will collect items from, or which have significant links to, and which can help tell the story of, the town and the surrounding area (as defined by the Shaftesbury Schools catchments area):

Our area covers the following parishes in Dorset:

Ashmore, Compton Abbas, Farnham, Fontmell Magna, Iwerne Minster, Melbury Abbas and Cann, Sutton Waldron, The Orchards and Margaret Marsh.

Motcombe in Dorset overlaps with Gillingham Museum’s collecting area – items offered to the museum from this parish will be discussed with Gillingham Museum.

Our area also includes the following parishes in Wiltshire:

Alvediston, Berwick St. John, Berwick St. Leonard, Donhead St. Andrew, Donhead St. Mary, East Knoyle, Ebbesbourne Wake, Fonthill Bishop, Fonthill Gifford, Fovant, Sedgehill and Semley, Sutton Mandeville, Tisbury, Tollard Royal and West Tisbury.

The museum has to take into account the lack of space in the stores when considering offers to the collection.

A particular focus of future acquisitions will be photographic material including post-cards, old prints etc. of Shaftesbury and surrounding areas.

Gold Hill Museum - Shaftesbury Buttons
Shaftesbury Byzant

Collection Gallery (under construction)