Charity Ball Celebrates Museum’s 170th anniversary

AFC Bournemouth’s Balfour Suite, all ready for guests to arrive.

AFC Bournemouth’s Balfour Suite, all ready for guests to arrive © DCM 2015

Last month, Dorset County Museum hosted ‘The Discovery Ball’ at AFC Bournemouth in celebration of the Museum’s 170th Anniversary.

The black tie event saw Dorset County Museum welcome 100 glamorous guests into the Balfour Suite for a wonderful evening consisting of a champagne reception, a delicious three course meal followed by a lively auction and raffle.

The evening started with music from the local, up-and-coming DJ Ryan Davis.  For many, the highlight of the evening’s entertainment was the extremely talented, Anthony Adams and his live swing band, who performed their accurate portrayal of the smooth tones of the one and only, Frank Sinatra. Guests were memorised by Anthony Adam’s ease, timing and soulful voice which is so reminiscent of the great man himself.

Anthony’s ability to truly portray Sinatra’s personae and voice makes it clear to see why he is currently recognised as one of the best and most accurate tributes to Frank Sinatra in the UK and Europe today.

Guests dancing to Anthony Adam's Sinatra.

Guests dancing to Anthony Adam’s Sinatra.

Unsurprisingly, the dance floor was never empty except during the evening’s lavish auction which included a luxury villa in the French Alps, a day charter aboard motor yacht Ikara, a three course Champagne lunch at The Savoy, Aston Martin and Jet Viper experiences and a replica Dinosaur Fossil amongst many, many more…

At the end of the evening, Anthony Adam’s drew the evening’s indulgent raffle with over 30 lucky guests leaving with prizes ranging from a Christmas Hamper and a bronze hare to various gift vouchers, Dior nail polishes and local jam sets.

Auction and Raffle tables filled with luxury prizes.

Auction and Raffle tables filled with luxury prizes.

On behalf of everyone at Dorset County Museum, we would like to thank all those who made such generous donations towards the auction and raffle and a special thank you to:

Jon Murden, Director of Dorset County Museum, Gabriella Crouch, Fundraising and Development Manager and Anthony Adams.

Jon Murden, Director of Dorset County Museum,
Gabriella Crouch, Fundraising and Development Manager and Anthony Adams © DCM 2015

And, a huge thank you to all the volunteers who helped on the evening and to everyone who attended ‘The Discovery Ball’ for making the evening so enjoyable for all.

Dorset County Museum’s, Fundraising and Development Manager, Gabriella Crouch said “The Discovery Ball was such a fantastic evening and was great to see so many people from all across the county come together. The event was successful in raising an impressive total of £6215.00 towards the museums redevelopment project which will transform Dorset County Museum into a leading, contemporary cultural and heritage centre. We would like to thank those who came and celebrated the Museum’s 170th birthday in such style and joined us in looking forward to the Museum’s exciting new future!”

To find out more about the Museum’s development project please visit the museum website www.dorsetcountymuseum.org/discovery-centre or for upcoming fundraising opportunities, please contact Gabriella Crouch, Fundraising and Development Manager, on 01305 262735 or email fundraising@dorsetcountymuseum.org

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800 years and Dorset’s role in the Magna Carta

King John signs Magna Carta

King John signs Magna Carta

On the 15th June 2015, it will be 800 years since the Magna Carta was agreed by King John and the barons of England. In the 21st Century, four copies of the charter have survived and are held by the British Library and the cathedrals of Lincoln and Salisbury. To mark the 800th anniversary of an agreement which has been described as ‘a symbol of liberty and law’, the British Library and the Lincoln and Salisbury cathedrals will be uniting the four copies for an exclusive display running from 13th March to 1st September.

If you’re one of the lucky 1,215 people who won a ballot to see this unique reunion, then be sure to look out for a familiar name which relates directly to your local Dorset history and heritage. That name is, William Marshall. Marshall was a man born into humble origins in 1147 but in May 1213 became the King’s chief advisor and in 1215 was described as ‘steering the reluctant monarch towards accepting the terms of Magna Carta, on which his mark appears first among those after the King.’

Coat of Arms of William Marshal

Coat of Arms of William Marshal

However, if you won’t be heading to London this summer then why not head to Sturminster Marshall. If you haven’t already guessed, Sturminster Marshall is directly linked to William Marshal himself. The name “Sturminster” derived from the River Stour and the church to which “Marshall” was added after he married the daughter of the Earl of Pembroke and in turn, acquired the land. It is here in Sturminster Marshall that a very special reminder of William Marshal and the Magna Carta still resides in the church of St Mary.

On one of the pillars in the church is mounted a seal of the “Royal Peculiar”. This seal signalled that the parish had become a “Royal Peculiar” which meant that from 1457 onwards it was not subject to the jurisdiction of the bishop and therefore, the local vicar could resolve small legal disputes, prove wills and grant marriage licenses etc. Although in our modern society these privileges are no longer granted, the seal of the “Royal Peculiar” can still be seen in the pillar in the church today. So instead of heading to London to see the Magna Carta, why not head to your local church at Sturminster Marshall and experience first-hand Dorset’s role in saving the English monarchy and bringing peace and order between bishops, barons and government.

Gabriella Crouch

To find out more about Dorset’s rich history head to Dorset County Museum or visit the website www.dorsetcountymuseum.org

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170 years of Museum Life celebrated in 170 days…

#DorsetMuseum170This year, 2015 welcomes the 170th anniversary of the founding of Dorset County Museum.

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.

First Dorset County Museum Second Dorset County Museum Present Dorset County MuseumDorset-County-Museum_003
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

Gabriella Crouch

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, why not head down to Dorset County Museum and discover Dorset’s own answer to Romeo and Juliet.

Cupid drawn by William BarnesIf you were asked to name great romance stories, you would not be alone in recalling tales of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet or Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy. However, on our own Dorset doorstep, one of the most epic love stories took place which not so many people may be aware of. This is the real-life love story between William and Julia Barnes.

The story began one morning in March 1818 where a chance encounter led William Barnes to first set eyes on a young Julia Miles as she stepped down from her stagecoach outside the King’s Arms Hotel in Dorchester. At which point he was described as being smitten immediately and even ‘involuntarily muttering to himself “that shall be my wife” (Chedzoy, 2010: 27). Their courtship was one worthy of any Shakespeare play or Hollywood movie script. Their love was forbidden by Julia’s disapproving father so the couple were forced to express their feelings in a series of intense love letters.

Shown below are two authentic examples of the handwritten letters from William to Julia.

William Banes Love letter

This letter c. 1820, points out the difficulty for the couple to have a conversation face-to-face. However, this obstacle does not stop the love-struck William from attempting to entice Julia into ‘granting him the happiness’ of attending a concert with him.

William Banes Love letter

This letter divulges William’s attempts to arrange an ‘accidental’ meeting with Julia. This highlight the need to keep their courtship a secret because it was strictly forbidden. It is this forbidden love and the couple’s determination to follow what their hearts desired which is so reminiscent of Shakespeare’s famous ‘Romeo and Juliet’ story. William and Julia both use phrases such as, ‘Yours devotedly’ and ‘Yours faithfully’ to end nearly all of their communications, showing the deepness of the star-crossed lovers’ feelings for one another.

This exchange of letters and series of ‘accidental’ meetings continued over an incredible nine years. (A time span not many modern men would have the patience to withstand nowadays!) Until, they finally married in 1827. So whatever romantic plans you have for your Valentine this February, be sure to remember true love can last much longer than one lifetime.

These love letters make up a small part of the extensive collection held by Dorset County Museum on the life of William Barnes. The Barnes’ gallery is due to undergo an extensive redevelopment where Barnes’ love life, poetry and achievements are to take a more prominent place. The refurbished gallery is expected to be opened in August 2015. For more on the lives and love story of William and Julia Barnes please visit Dorset County Museum.

To find out more information about Dorset County Museum’s Barnes collection or to plan your next trip to the museum, please visit www.dorsetcountymuseum.org

Gabriella Crouch

Further reading:

  • Chedzoy, A. (2011), The People’s Poet: William Barnes of Dorset. The History Press: Gloucestershire.
  • Lindgreen, C. H. (ed.) (1986), The Love Poems and Letters of William Barnes and Julia Miles. Dorset Record Society: Dorset.

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