It is 170 years ago when the concept of building a museum to house all of the treasures of Dorset’s rich history was conceived by a group of forward-thinking individuals. On the 15th October, 1845 it was a group, including the Dorset poet, William Barnes; the vicar of Fordington, Rev. Henry Moule and Rev. C. W. Bingham, which decided that in light of the development of the railways, and the subsequent discovery of specimens and artefacts within the disturbance, that it was ‘advisable to take immediate steps for the establishment of an Institution in this Town, containing a Museum and Library for the County of Dorset.’ It was at this moment, Dorset County Museum was born.
|Judge Jeffreys Lodgings
1st home of the Museum,
1846 – 1851
|No. 3 Trinity Street
2nd home of the Museum,
1851 – 1883
|Dorset County Museum
1833 – Present
Originally, two rooms in what is now Judge Jeffreys restaurant were dedicated to the museum project. Quickly, this space became too small and the museum was subsequently moved to No. 3 Trinity Street. It was here that Thomas Hardy famously described the museum in his novel the Mayor of Casterbridge as:
‘It is an old house in a back street- I forget where- but you’ll find out- and there are crowds of interesting things- skeletons, teeth, old pots and pans, ancient boots and shoes, birds’ eggs- all charmingly instructive. You’ll be sure to stay till you get quite hungry.’
The museum remained in this ‘house in a back street’ until 1883 when the present building in High West Street was designed by architect Mr G. R. Crickmay. It wasn’t until several years later that the Dorset Natural History and Antiquarian Field Club was founded in 1875 and co-operated closely with the museum. The two organisations officially amalgamated in 1928 under the name Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society, becoming the new owners, and current owners to this day, of Dorset County Museum.
To celebrate this momentous anniversary, Dorset County Museum will be teasing its Twitter followers with 170 days’ worth of birthday related tweets. So make sure you follow @DorsetMuseum for the start of our special 170th birthday celebrations. There will be a celebratory #DorsetMuseum170 twitter campaign kicking off, 29th April, where Dorset County Museum’s twitter will be conducting an exclusive 170 days countdown to the Museum’s official birthday on 15th October.
For further information about the Museum, telephone 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org