Lunchtime Concert – Pianist, Béla Hartmann

Béla Hartmann

Béla Hartmann

A piano recital with one work only – Beethoven’s monumental visions of a simple but stubborn Waltz: the greatest set of Variations ever written!

A winner of the Beethoven Medal, pianist Béla Hartmann has been celebrated for his performances and recordings of Beethoven and Schubert in venues from New York’s Carnegie Hall to London’s South Bank Centre – and now you can hear him play at Dorset County Museum.

A prize-winner of both national and international competitions, the Czech-German pianist Béla Hartmann has established a reputation for lively and individual interpretations of a wide repertoire, ranging from Rameau to Jörg Widmann.  Schubert, Mozart and Beethoven form the core of this extensive range, and he was both prize-winner in the International Schubert Competition, Dortmund (1997), and winner of the Beethoven Medal of the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe (1995). In 2000, he was a semi-finalist at the Leeds International Piano Competition.

In 2005 Béla Hartmann performed the complete piano sonatas and dances by Schubert, in a series of eight recitals at Steinway Hall, London. Other programmes include the complete first book of Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier, works by Dvorak and Smetana and contemporary composers such as Birtwistle, Berio and Petr Eben. Béla Hartmann had also performed widely on fortepianos. He has given recitals at prestigious venues in London, across the UK and Europe, as well as in the U.S.A., where he appeared at the Carnegie Recital Hall, New York. Concerto performances include concertos by Brahms, Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Dvorak, Liszt, Beethoven and Mozart. Béla Hartmann is also a keen musical essayist and has published both in print and online on areas such as performance practice and artistic identity.

Béla Hartmann studied in Munich with Vadim Suchanov and Nicolas Economou and at Trinity College, London, with John Bingham. A scholarship from the Tillett Trust enabled further studies at the Hochschule für Musik, Munich, with Elisso Virssaladse.

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

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New Exhibition: ‘Under the Surface’ Paintings and Carvings by David West

Big Fish by David West © Maisie Hill 2017

Big Fish by David West © Maisie Hill 2017

For the very first time, Under the Surface brings together 70 of David West’s most important works from both private and public collections.  Spanning 60 years, it reflects the different strands of his development as a painter, sculptor and craftsman, deftly illustrating the progression and interaction between his use of paint and wood, in what is a landmark exhibition for this Dorset artist. 

Born in 1939, David West went to Sutton and Cheam School of Art (1956 – 1958) and Camberwell School of Art (1958 – 1960) where he studied painting and printmaking.  However, West found the emphasis on accuracy which was a feature of his student days too restrictive, and on leaving Camberwell he began to explore his love of decoration and strong pattern.

In the 1960s his work took an unexpected direction as he began to explore flexible ways to construct paintings within a three dimensional framework, which led naturally on to painting on wood.  Initially, wood was a substitute for canvas, but he soon became interested in its possibilities, and gradually there was more constructing and carving and less painting.

Gig and Fish by David West © Maisie Hill 2017

Gig and Fish by David West © Maisie Hill 2017

His carved wooden models are full of acute observation and humour, and reflect the strong interest West has in architecture, and the self-contained world within buildings.  His dolls houses were inspired by watching his daughter’s imaginative play, and the idea that within the basic structure of a house is a place where imagination can be released.

Some pieces portray actual houses, such as Parnham House and Forde Abbey, others are pure inventions.  Later models include a shop and theatre, and Dorset County Museum is lucky enough to have The Spode Set, a miniature theatre carved in wood based on the ‘Spode Italian’ ceramic design.  West’s woodcut prints became a natural extension of his carving.

West’s move from London to Lyme Regis in 1981 inspired in him a love of the Dorset landscape and coast, and a fascination with the ebb and flow of tides and water.  This influence can be clearly seen in his work as he began to carve sculptures based on walks along the beach at Lyme Regis.  He has taken an active part in life in Lyme Regis, and in the 1990s had a significant role in the restoration of the Town Mill, where there is a room named after him.

In fact, it was the commission to carve and gild a set of organ pipe shades for St Michael’s Church in Lyme Regis which led to using gold leaf to develop the 200 drawings inspired by his trip to Japan in 2008.  Variations of footpaths, waterfalls, fishponds and mountain streams are among the many gilded carvings and woodcut prints in the exhibition.  These were followed by works related to the Dorset landscape and coast, a series of gilded carvings, ‘Night Waves’ and ‘Moon’, combining influences from both Japan and Dorset.

Dorset County Museum is pleased to be welcoming David West back following a successful exhibition at the Museum almost 30 years ago.

This exhibition is supported by the Mansel-Playdell & Cecil Trust and PGP

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

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19th Century Barrel Organ

19th Century Barrel OrganOur newly restored 19th Century Barrel Organ is now back at the museum. Come to hear the barrel organ play any number of traditional melodies on one or more of its three barrels.

Gordon Bartlet, who kindly financed the restoration of the organ will demonstrate it for you. He will be in the museum every Tuesday in March (1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th) and April (5th, 12th, 19th and 26th) 3.00 — 4.00pm.

A Selection of Melodies:

  • Handels Water Music
  • The Dorsetshire March
  • The Bollita
  • Lady Digby’s Minuet
  • Evening Hymn
  • Lording Mornington
Gordon Bartlet with the Barrel Organ

Gordon Bartlet with the Barrel Organ

Gordon says “Vintage machinery and many varieties of music have always been a passion of mine, so mechanical music ticks both boxes and has lead to a collection of antique musical boxes and similar items. With this background it was sad to see a 19th century barrel organ lying silent in the Dorset County Museum, so I resolved to investigate its history and to see if it could be made to work again.

Apart from once being in Puddletown church and then Bere Regis church much of the organ’s background was unknown. Delving into more detail uncovered a fascinating history from when it was built by John Gray of London in 1839 to when it was bought and subsequently donated to the museum in 1935 by Miss Agnes Debenham of the Debenham Stores family.

On the technical side the organ was very complete and original, but with damage to the operating mechanism and to many of the pipes. Making it play again required the combined efforts of myself and Mr John Budgen, a retired professional organ builder.”

Demonstrations at the museum every Tuesday in March (1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th) and April (5th, 12th, 19th and 26th) from 3.00pm – 4.00pm. Normal admissions apply.

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

Jurassic World – Come and see the World’s Biggest Bite!

Jurassic-WorldJurassic World has been released this weekend – and if you’ve enjoyed the film, now come and see the enormous 150million year old skull of the Weymouth Bay Pliosaur at Dorset County Museum!

The fossil bones of this pliosaur skull were recovered by amateur fossil collector Kevan Sheehan between 2003 and 2008, as they were washed out of a landslide on the coast in Weymouth Bay. The largest piece weighed over 80 kg, and the skull itself is a massive 2.4 metres long. Featured recently as one of National Geographic’s Top 10 Biggest Beasts, the pliosaur was the ‘T Rex of the ocean’, an 18metre long ferocious predator of the seas. Known as ‘The World’s Biggest Bite’, the Weymouth Bay Pliosaur would have been capable of biting the biggest great white shark alive today clean in half.

The Dorset specimen is one of the most complete and best preserved skulls ever found, and as a result it has provided new insights into our understanding of how these enormous animals evolved.

Richard Edmonds and Kevan Sheehan with the Pliosaur skull © DCM

Richard Edmonds and Kevan Sheehan with the Pliosaur skull © DCM

Since its discovery, hundreds of hours have been spent carrying out a detailed analysis and cleaning away the rock to expose the detail of the fossil underneath. Alongside this conservation work an intensive programme involved the Jurassic Coast team and Dorset County Museum working together to produce an exciting, interactive display showcasing the fossil with the theme ‘The World’s Biggest Bite’. Mounted dramatically on a specially constructed plinth that shows the jaws in an awe-inspiring open-mouthed position, the story of the fossil is interpreted through a series of film presentations accompanied by a life-size model of the pliosaur’s head.

Dr. Jon Murden, Director said “It’s amazing to see this skull up close in the Museum – standing next to it you can really appreciate its enormous size, and get a feel for the terrifying predator it once was.”

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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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Dorset County Museum Thanksgiving Party is Great Success

Dorchester Thanksgiving Party Cake

The beautiful Dorchester Thanksgiving Party Cake created and kindly donated by Angel Cake Company

Friday 14th November saw an enthusiastic crowd at Dorset County Museum celebrating Thanksgiving with new friends in Dorchester, Massachusetts.

The fundraising event brought together people from both sides of the Atlantic in a joint venture to raise money for Dorset County Museum’s new Collections Discovery Centre. A total of just over £1400 was raised on the night which will go directly towards funding the project

Staff and trustees of Dorset County Museum would like to express their thanks to the following people who made the event such a success: Lord and Lady Fellowes of West Stafford; Peter Mann, Mayor of Dorchester; David Taylor, Museum Fundraising Team Leader; Jan Cosgrove, David Cuckson, Jane Squirrell, Volunteers of the Museum’s Fundraising team; Mark North, Andy Worth, Ian Condon, Jenny Devitt, Film and Media Technicians;  John Fiori from the Horse with the Red Umbrella and Nicci Campbell of the Angel Cake Company for the food and the cake, plus Dorchester Town Crier Alistair Chisholm and members of the New Hardy Players.

Dorchester Thanksgiving Party

Crowds gather in the museum for the Dorchester Thanksgiving Party

During the evening, the two Dorchesters were directly connected by a live video link. Julian Fellowes talked with the Rt Reverend Richard Kellaway and the Rev Arthur Lovoie from the First Parish Church in Dorchester Massachusetts, assisted by  who had been helping to coordinate the event on the American side. A major element in the joint heritage of the two towns is the rectory of the Reverend John White. A listed building, it was here that events took place that played a key role in the founding of the United States of America. Regeneration of this site, in the centre of Dorchester’s urban conservation area, will help promote understanding of Dorset’s international story and provide a definite link for the many tens of thousands of people around the world who can trace their family heritage back to Dorset.

Lord Julian Fellowes

Lord Julian Fellowes of West Stafford

The Museum’s Collections Discovery Centre project has been developed to provide new galleries, learning resources, collections storage facilities and a renewed public face for the Museum. The new centre will enable the museum to showcase its collections, spanning over 185 million years. It will build a safe conservation environment and sustainable future for the heritage the collections represent. This will enable more people to learn about history and prehistory using the Museum’s collections, and create additional collecting capacity for

 Julian Fellowes speaks to First Parish Dorchester - Rev. Arthur R. Lavoie, Phil Lindsay and Rev. Richard Kellaway — with Julian Fellowes at Dorset County Museum.

Lord Julian Fellowes speaks to First Parish Dorchester – Rev. Arthur R. Lavoie, Phil Lindsay and Rev. Richard Kellaway

Dorset’s strategically important collections such as the archaeology of the South Dorset Ridgeway and the geology of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.

In addition, new galleries will encourage more people to visit and experience the collections including groups which do not currently use the Museum and visitors will be able to see, for the first time, objects in reserve collections which are not normally on display. The scheme will also help to improve the cultural tourism offer for Dorset, and support the regional economy. The Museum is in the heart of a rural county, in the centre of the county town, and in an area that attracts visitors from across the UK. In this location, with the right investment, the new centre will provide wonderful access to the region’s heritage and become an essential part of the experience of visiting Dorset.

Further fundraising events are currently being planned to support the project – for more information visit www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or telephone the Museum on 01305 262735.

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Dorchester Thanksgiving Party 14th November 2014

Dorchester Thanksgiving PartyDorset County Museum is working hard to raise funds for a major redevelopment project to improve its facilities in Dorchester. An important part of the process is a series of fundraising events linked with increasing the profile of the Museum at home and abroad.

Dorset, and Dorchester in particular, has a strong historical connection with early settlers in the United States, in particular with those who sailed on the ship Mary and John. This was the ship that brought the first European settlers to Dorchester Massachusetts in 1630 under the guidance of the Reverence John White. Part of the Museum’s current project is the renovation and development of John White’s Rectory located behind the Museum in Colliton Street, Dorchester.

Model of the Mary and John

Model of the Mary and John in the Dorset County Museum © DCM

Fundraising Team Leader, David Taylor said, “We are talking to people in America who are researching into how their ancestors originally came to the Massachusetts area. We hope to build on this relationship as our project moves forwards – and help them find out more about who these early settlers were, and why they left England for the New World.”

There will be a small exhibition about the Mary and John on display including original passenger lists. The event will also include a live link with contacts from Dorchester and Boston Massachusetts.

In addition, Lord and Lady Fellowes of West Stafford will introduce a brand new film about Dorset’s heritage. Entertainment will include the performance of a Mummers Play by the New Hardy Players and traditional folk music by Jerry Bird.

Tickets cost £15.00 and include canapés and a glass of wine.

They are available now from the Museum Shop on 01305 756827 or by email on shop@dorsetcountymuseum.org Tickets can also be obtained from the Dorchester Tourist Information Centre, telephone 01305 267992.

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Dorset’s Church Treasure: Telling the Story of Christianity through the Centuries

17th Century Chalice from SwanageAn exhibition of Ecclesiastical Silver at Dorset County Museum, Dorchester from 13th October 2014 to 18th April 2015.

In Christian churches, the act of communion has always been the most important religious ceremony. Traditionally congregations wished to have the very best communion vessels that they (or their richest members) could afford. As a result Dorset churches have a wealth of beautiful and rare collections of silver, some of it so valuable that it has to be stored in bank vaults. A new exhibition at Dorset County Museum provides a rare opportunity to see some of the finest pieces in both Dorset and the UK.

The new temporary exhibition in the Museum’s Victorian Gallery tells the story of Christianity for over 2000 years – from Pre-Reformation times to the present day. Crafted by world-famous silversmiths, the pieces include the Coombe Keynes Chalice from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London – an object of huge national importance.

Dorset appears to have had a strong Christian community as far back as Roman times. An example of this tradition is a Roman spoon from Dorchester with the “fish” Christian cipher.

By the early 16th century England was a devoutly Christian country and only the Priest was normally allowed to take full communion. He drank wine from a wide mouth vessel called a chalice and took bread, in the form of an unleavened wafer, from a small plate called a paten. Pieces of church silver from this period in England are rare and in Dorset only three pieces survive. All of these can be seen in the exhibition including the Coombe Keynes Chalice which has been said by the Victoria and Albert Museum to be one of the finest in the country.

Many consider the 18th century as the greatest period for church and domestic silver and Paul de Lamerie is generally accepted as the greatest silversmith of the time; some say of all time. On display is one of the three silver-gilt communion sets made by de Lamerie for Dorset churches. There is also a letter, dated June 1737, which records instructions on how to clean the silver as directed by Paul de Lamerie, himself.

In the mid-1800s a new Anglo Catholic movement wanted to bring more powerful emotional symbolism and energy to the Church. More elaborate church interiors were introduced and the design of communion ware moved to a more mediaeval style. The chalice on show from St Peter’s church Parkstone is a fine example of the richness and ebullience of this style. The chalice is inlaid with semi-precious stones and has a diamond cross on the front, reputed to be from necklace owned by the donor.

“This exhibition contains some of the finest pieces of church silverware in the country,” said Jon Murden, Director of Dorset County Museum. “We are grateful to all the Dorset parishes which have loaned items for us to display. We hope many people will be able to see these hidden treasures before they go back into safe storage.”

In addition to silver chalices, patens and flagons, there are other fascinating items including a very rare bread knife for cutting communion bread. Accompanying the exhibition is a booklet describing Dorset’s ecclesiastical silver and the development of Christianity in Dorset since the 4th century.

The exhibition will be formally opened by the Bishop of Sherborne, Dr. Graham Kings, and will run at Dorset County Museum from 13th October 2014 to 18th April 2015.

The award-winning Museum is open Monday to Saturday, 10.00am to 5.00pm until the end of October when it closes daily at 4.00pm.

For more information please Tel: 01305 262735 or visit our website at www.dorsetcountymuseum.org.

Museum holds fundraising event to celebrate links with Dorchester, Massachusetts

Dorset County Museum is currently working on a major refurbishment and development project to improve its galleries and collections storage facilities and to increase access to the public. Part of the project involves fundraising and increasing the profile of the Museum at home and abroad.

David Taylor points to the coat of arms of the Lawrence Family at St Michael & All Angels, Steeple.

David Taylor points to the coat of arms of the Lawrence Family at St Michael & All Angels, Steeple.

An important part of Dorset’s heritage is its connection with early settlers in the United States. The Museum is keen to establish links with American organisations interested in the history of those who travelled under the guidance of the Revd. John White of Dorchester. The Museum owns John White’s Rectory in Colliton Street which will be restored as part of the project. The Museum has several American members who are keen to promote the project and become involved in establishing stronger links with places like Dorchester in Massachusetts, one of the original landing points of English settlers.

Fundraising Team Leader, David Taylor said, “We have found links from Dorset families to the great-grandfather of George Washington who became the first President of the United States. There are also coats of arms from the Lawrence and Washington families going back to 1390 which show stars and stripes very similar to those used on the American flag.”

Dorchester Thanksgiving PartyThe fundraising event on Friday 14th November will celebrate the Museum’s re-established contact with the United States and will include a live link with dignitaries from Dorchester and Boston Massachusetts. The thanksgiving party will start at 5.30pm with a presentation of a new film about Dorset’s heritage which will be introduced by Lord and Lady Fellowes of West Stafford. Entertainment will include the performance of a Mummers Play by the New Hardy Players and traditional folk music by Jerry Bird.

Tickets cost £15 and include canapés and a glass of wine. They are available now from the Museum Shop on 01305 756827 or by email on shop@dorsetcountymuseum.org. Tickets can also be obtained from the Dorchester Tourist Information Centre, telephone 01305 267992.

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Jurassic Coast Champion at Dorset County Museum

Professor Denys Brunsden at the Pliosaur unveiling 8th July 2011

Professor Denys Brunsden at the Pliosaur unveiling 8th July 2011 © DCM

Professor Denys Brunsden OBE is a well-known geomorphologist specialising in landslides and coastal erosion.

As the first Chairman of the Dorset Coast Forum he proposed the Jurassic Coast for World Heritage Site status and worked tirelessly with other experts to achieve a successful outcome. In 2010 he was awarded a prize by the Geological Society for his work on the project. Professor Brunsden also wrote the very popular “Official Guide to the Jurassic Coast: A Walk Through Time”.

As part of the Museum’s Geology lecture series, Denys Brunsden, who is also Emeritus Professor of King’s College, London, will give the first talk of 2014 entitled Tales of the Deep. He will discuss the use of modern imaging techniques to map and visualise the sea floor in order to understand deep sea processes and hazards.

This lavishly illustrated lecture takes place at Dorset County Museum at 7.00pm on Wednesday 8th January 2014. Entry is FREE and the doors are open from 6.30pm. A donation of £3.00 is encouraged to cover costs.

For further information contact the Museum on 01305 262735 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org

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