Thomas Hardy Lecture: Hardy, Women and Marriage By Professor Ann Heilmann

Emma Hardy

Emma Hardy from the Dorset County Museum’s Hardy Collection © DCM

On Thursday 30th July, Professor Ann Heilmann of Cardiff University is giving a literary talk at Dorset County Museum entitled ‘Hardy, Women and Marriage’.

When, with the death of his first wife Emma, Hardy embarked on his Poems of 1912-13, the estranged husband reconstituted himself in author and journalist Claire Tomalin’s words as ‘a lover in mourning’. It is perhaps a fitting irony that the man who reconfigured his marriage after the event had spent his novelistic career waging war on conventional Victorian ideas of marriage.

Hardy’s attack on marriage as a social and legal institution pervades his entire fiction, from his first novel Desperate Remedies (1871) and its sensation-style foray into bigamy, to his final masterpiece, Jude the Obscure (1895): a book which prompted the Mrs Grundy of Victorian literature, Margaret Oliphant, to denounce Hardy as the leading figure in the contemporary ‘Anti-Marriage League’.

This talk discusses marriage in Hardy’s life and fiction, highlighting his radical critique of Victorian legal conditions and his early espousal of women’s rights.

All are welcome to the talk which starts at 7.30pm. Doors open at 7.00pm. The talk is free of charge but a donation of £3.00 is encouraged to cover costs.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Mini Maiden Castle Free Family Activity Morning

Maiden Castle, Dorchester, DorsetOn Wednesday 29th July at the Dorset County Museum children are being invited to come along to this fun event and find out all about the history of Maiden Castle. They will be able to enjoy a craft session and make their very own mini Maiden Castle to take home!

This activity takes place between 10.30am – 12.30pm. There’s no need to book as this activity is FREE thanks to generous sponsorship from Battens Solicitors. Up to two accompanied children aged 4 -12 will be admitted per adult.

For further information about this Family Activity contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

International Guitarist, Mike Jennings to perform at Museum

Mark JenningsDorset County Museum is pleased to announce a forthcoming concert by classical guitarist Mark Jennings. The concert will take place on Thursday 30th July from 1.00pm to 2.00pm in the Museum’s atmospheric Victorian Gallery.

Mark has been playing classical guitar for most of his life, having started lessons from an early age. He attended the London College of Music, studying classical guitar performance with Carlos Bonell. As a student Mark performed in many public international master classes hosted by distinguished artists. Since leaving music college, he has enjoyed performing in many parts of the UK.

Mark has enjoyed a variety of successful musical collaborations with other musicians including the Baroque Players, which he co-founded. More recently he has performed as a guitar duo with Peter Rueffer, founder of The Pro Arte Trio and Music Director of the Dillington International Classical Guitar Festival.

The concert is free of charge, but a £3 donation to Dorset County Museum is encouraged. All proceeds will go towards fund-raising for the Museum’s new Collections Discovery Centre.

Find details of our summer events contact the Museum on 01305 756827 or check the website on or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Vikings invade the museum!

Vikings-invade-Dorset-County-MuseumHistory is being brought to life this summer – the Vikings are invading Dorset County Museum! Come and meet the Vikings from 10.00am until 4.00pm on Saturday 1st and Sunday 23rd August from 11.00am to 4.00pm. Witness hand to hand combat, visit craftspeople to find out how chain mail and fishing nets were made, watch Norse cooking demonstrations, mint a Viking coin and listen to exciting Viking sagas full of adventure.

The Wessex based Hrafnslith (‘Troop of the Raven’) is a regional group belonging to the oldest ‘Dark Ages’ historical re-enactment society, “The Vikings”. They will be recreating an impressive living history encampment within the Museum, showcasing the lifestyles of the Viking and Anglo-Saxon peoples of the 8th – 11th century. They will be on hand to give demonstrations of Viking / Saxon Age crafts, skills, games and pastimes as well as performing combat displays with a variety of weaponry.

Director Dr. Jon Murden said “We welcome families at the Museum, and these events are going to be wonderful for children, really bringing history alive for them. We want to inspire the next generation to help conserve Dorset’s past, and to that end there will be a special offer on our membership price for any families or individuals who sign up at the events, which will give them free entry to the Museum for a whole year.”

With plenty for children to see and do throughout the summer holidays including museum trails and, for dinosaur fans, a gallery dedicated to all things dinosaur which boasts a huge pliosaur skull over 155 million years old, Dorset County Museum is well worth a visit. Find details of our summer events contact the Museum on 01305 756827 or check the website on or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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Harvest Festival celebration in Dorchester


Reapers gathering the harvest – DCM © 2015

On the 1st August 2015 from 11.00am to 3.00pm, St. Peter’s Church Hall in Dorchester will host a free Lammas Festival. Lammas is a traditional harvest celebration of Celtic origin, held in early August to mark the beginning of harvest time, when reaping of the ripe corn in the fields would begin.

The event will be in aid of the refurbishment of the William Barnes Gallery in Dorset County Museum, and will feature a variety of performances and entertainment from Tim Laycock and friends including traditional folk songs and poetry.

Locally made cider, home-made cakes and other refreshments will be available to buy and there will be an opportunity to purchase local organic fruit, vegetables and plants.

Children can make salt dough hedgehogs or peg doll farmers, and adults can join in too and learn to make corn dollies. Crafts and gifts will be available to buy, or try your luck in the raffle to win locally grown harvest prizes.

There will also be an opportunity to explore the folklore, customs and traditions of harvest time at Sherborne Museum’s stall.  Sherborne Museum is currently exhibiting a Dorset Folklore exhibition in conjunction with Dorset County Museum.

Lammas Festival

The Occasional Singers present ‘Music for a Summer’s Evening’

The Occasional Singers

The Occasional Singers

On Sunday 5th July Dorset County Museum will be the venue for ‘Music for a Summer’s Evening’, a concert presented by The Occasional Singers, a mixed-voice choir based in Dorchester.

The Occasional Singers will be joined by celebrated local pianist Duncan Honeybourne in a programme of English music including works by Elgar and Vaughan Williams. A special feature will be works native to Dorset: poems of William Barnes set by Ian Purseglove and Henry Balfour Gardiner, and choral settings of Dorset folksongs, directed by Richard Hall and David Bruce-Payne.

Doors will open early at 6.00pm to allow time to look around the Museum first, and the concert will then begin at 7.30pm. Light refreshments will be available, for which a small donation would be much appreciated. The choir is non-profit making, and all proceeds from the evening will go to the Museum’s Collections Discovery Centre Development.

Tickets cost £8 each and are available in advance from Dorset County Museum’s shop, by phoning 01305 756827, or on the door.

Visit to Druce Farm Roman Villa

Druce Farm Roman Villa

Druce Farm Roman Villa

On the Friday 3rd July at  6.30 pm there will be a last chance to see final season of excavation at this amazingly well-preserved Roman villa, where three large ranges of buildings are set within a courtyard enclosure. High-class finds suggest wealthy owners living here from the 1st century AD and who continued to inhabit the site for several centuries after the Romans left Britain.

Driving instructions below. There is ample parking in the meadow however the site is a good 20 minute walk from the car park. Stout shoes are recommended and be aware that the site itself is very uneven due to the excavations.

Meet in the car parking meadow at 6.30 pm for the walk up to the site

We will ask for voluntary donations to the excavation to help fund full academic publication

This is a working farm and the land owner asks that visitors leave their dogs at home (Sorry!)

How to get there: –

  • From Dorchester
    Follow the A35 East towards Bere Regis/ Poole/Bournemouth for about 3.9 miles,
    Take the exit signposted A354/B3142 to Blandford/Milborne St Andrew/Piddlehinton,
    At the roundabout take the 1st exit on to the B3142,
  • From Poole
    Follow the A35 West towards Bere Regis/ Puddletown/Dorchester for 1.1 miles,
    Continue on through one roundabout on the A35 for about 9.3 miles,
    At next roundabout take 2nd exit and continue along the A35 for 6 miles,
    Take the exit signposted A354/B3142 to Blandford, Piddlehinton, Puddletown,
    At the roundabout take the 3rd exit on to the A354,

At the next roundabout take the 1st exit on to the B3142, After about 1 mile turn right just before a sharp left bend (there is a triangle of grass at junction, Note that there is also a lane which you have to cross before entering farms driveway) and Druce Farm is directly ahead.

Drive through the gateway (Druce Farmhouse is on your right), then pass some large Victorian cottages, pass the cart shed on your left, follow the farm track with a modern cottage on your right. The track forks – take the left hand track and you will see several cars in the field.

Drive carefully – Be aware that small children may be playing around the houses and that farm machinery may be about