Sharing Heritage: Museum Makers Group celebrates £6,000 Heritage Lottery Fund Grant


The Museum Makers rehearsing for their latest performance ‘The Vikings are Coming!’ at the Dorset County Museum

Dorset County Museum has received a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Sharing Heritage grant, it was announced today.  The grant will fund an exciting Museum Makers project which will provide educational and inspirational opportunities for adults with learning disabilities as they engage with the collections at the Museum.  

The project will work with local disability groups, carers, specialist artists and performers on a wide range of creative activities inspired by the Museum’s desire to share the stories of Dorset’s heritage with vulnerable adults in the community.  Weekly creative sessions will include activities such as acting, music, craft making and shadow puppetry which will result in the group producing and performing a play and a film for friends, family and the wider community to enjoy, all inspired by the Museum’s collections.

The initial focus for the group will be recently acquired archaeology collections including the Viking skeletons discovered on the South Dorset Ridgeway, which the Museum Makers will use to explore the Viking connection with Dorset, performing a play based on their discoveries.

The latter half of the project will see the group explore themes relating to the Museum’s current exhibition of railway posters of the twentieth century, Speed to the West:  a Nostalgic Journey.  From this they will produce a film on the coming of the railway to Dorchester, connections with Dorset’s literary heritage and the founding of the Museum itself in response to the threat posed by the construction of the new railways to Dorset’s archaeological heritage and natural history.

Commenting on the award, Andy Worth, Museum Makers Volunteer, said “We’re thrilled to have been awarded this grant and we can’t wait to get started on the project. The Museum Makers group will feel a stronger sense of belonging to their community through engaging with Dorset’s past, and at the same time they will be developing their own self-confidence through learning new skills, performing and film-making.  We’re also delighted by the support we’ve had from Dorset County Museum, and can’t emphasise enough how crucial this interim grant is to the Museum Makers. ”  

Dr Peter Down, Chairman of Dorset County Museum added “This will be a really fantastic project, and staff and volunteers here at the Museum will give our whole hearted support to the Museum Makers in any way that we can.”

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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 or for upcoming fundraising opportunities, please contact Gabriella Crouch, Fundraising and Development Manager, on 01305 262735 or email

Dorset County Museum wins £10.3 million Heritage Lottery Funding

Cross-Section Artist Impression of Dorset County Museum Redevelopment Project - Carmody Groarke © 2015

Cross-Section Artist Impression of Dorset County Museum Redevelopment Project – Carmody Groarke © 2015

Dorset County Museum has received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting new Collections Discovery Centre project, it was announced today. The main aims of the project are to provide a new state of the art learning centre, better archive and storage facilities and better public access to displays of the Museum’s vast collection.

This will be achieved through the sensitive yet contemporary redevelopment of the current building, which will transform Dorset County Museum’s facilities and double its visitor numbers. There will be new gallery spaces, an area for researchers to work and open workshop spaces so the public can see for themselves the fascinating inner workings of the museum. There will also be a new shop and tearoom, accessible from the street. The award of initial stage one funding of £483,900 will enable a detailed two year development plan to take place ahead of final submission to the HLF in May 2017. This would enable building work to start in 2017 and the Collections Discovery Centre to be opened to the public by 2020.

The Museum is housed in the centre of Dorchester in a beautiful high Victorian gothic building of architectural importance which will be carefully preserved during the works. The 1883 Crickmay Building which housed the Museum originally along with the stunning Victorian Hall will be conserved, and John White’s historic sixteenth century rectory will be sensitively restored.

More than 45,000 people visit the Museum every year, along with 5,000 local school children. It is anticipated that the new Collections Discovery Centre will become a focal point for locals and visitors to Dorset alike, attracting twice as many visitors in the years to come.

Jon Murden, Director of Dorset County Museum said “This is a brilliant and exciting opportunity for Dorset. For the first time we will have the space to do justice to our amazing collections, whilst ensuring they are safely preserved for future generations to enjoy. We would like to thank all of the organisations and individuals who have supported us with this bid. In particular we would like to thank, Arts Council England, Wessex Museums Partnership, Dorset County Council, West Dorset District Council and Dorchester Town Council.”

Dr Peter Down, Chairman of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society continued “We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has recognised the importance of the Dorset County Museum to the people of Dorset, and also recognises our commitment to learning with the new education centre. This very generous grant will allow us to increase the small number of staff, and give space to the many volunteers on which the museum relies heavily. As the County Museum, we can now look forward to working even more closely with our partner museums and other conservation Trusts within the whole of Dorset.”

The Lord Fellowes of West Stafford, Patron of the Dorset County Museum Development Appeal, added “This project will enable the Museum to bring world class exhibitions to the local area, and develop its role as a cultural and community hub for a range of events and activities. By 2020, while retaining and respecting its Victorian roots, the Museum will have been completely transformed into a modern, sustainable heritage service that serves twice as many visitors, making an even more significant contribution to the local economy.”

Explaining the importance of the HLF support Nerys Watts, Head of HLF South West said “From the spectacular Weymouth Bay pliosaur to the largest Thomas Hardy collection in the world, the collections at Dorset County Museum provide an unrivalled picture of 185 million years of our area’s heritage. We’re thrilled to support these plans which will transform the museum, preserve their incredible collections and finally enable visitors to get a true insight into Dorset’s past. We look forward to seeing the plans develop.”

Cllr Peter Wharf, the Dorset County Council‘s representative on the museum’s board, said: “This is really excellent news for Dorset. The museum is a real asset for residents and visitors alike and the county council has worked closely with them to help bring in this significant injection of funds which will benefit so many people. I look forward to being involved in this exciting project to develop a first class facility.”

Robin Potter, Mayor of Dorchester says “On behalf of the Town Council and the people of the town can I express our absolute delight at the success of the Museum’s lottery bid. The project will not only allow the Museum to provide a fitting home for the storage, interpretation and research into Dorset’s fascinating history; it will also become the essential cornerstone that the town’s Tourism sector has been looking for to stimulate significantly increased interest in visiting Dorchester to explore the town’s rich cultural heritage, creating more jobs and a more diverse local economy. The Town Council is keen now to do its part in helping Dorset County Museum raise the remaining, but not inconsiderable, £3 Million needed to make the scheme a reality.”

Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England, said: ‘This is terrific news – we are delighted that Dorset County Museum has been successful in its application to the Heritage Lottery Fund. We’ve been supporting the museum to develop the skills and capacity they need to become more resilient and our investment has helped them plan a sustainable future with vision and confidence. Now we’re looking forward to working with staff and stakeholders as they deliver this exciting project.’

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Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society Vol 135 – 2014

Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society Volume 135 - 2014The Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society Vol 135 – 2014 is out now and available at the Dorset County Museum shop for £15.00. For more enquiries Tel: 01305 262735 or email

One of the articles featured in the Proceedings and which is of particular interest this time of year is the folk custom of Mumming Plays.

Mumming plays, like several other winter customs, have enjoyed a huge revival in modern times, largely due to the enthusiasm of morris sides. This paper written by Jerry Bird titled  ‘Mumming Plays in Hardy’s Wessex’, delves into the mysterious origins of the Christmas mumming play, before examining its extent and importance in the County of Dorset.

The Mummers, as remembered by Thomas Hardy for the Mummers' play in the 'Return of the Native' performed in Dorchester in 1920 by The Hardy players

The Mummers, as remembered by Thomas Hardy for the Mummers’ play in the ‘Return of the Native’ performed in Dorchester in 1920 by The Hardy players © DCM

Thomas Hardy famously used a mumming play as a dramatic device in his novel Return of the Native, and seems to have had an abiding interest in folk-drama generally; his last published work which was not poetry was The Famous Tragedy of the Queen of Cornwall, billed as a ‘play for mummers’. He came from a long line of folk-musicians and his cousins performed in the Puddletown play. Despite this, the play he used in his novel appears not to have a local origin, though his description of the players was accurate, and he later borrowed a genuine Dorset script to write a new version for a stage production of ‘Return of the Native’ in the 1920s, thus inadvertently becoming an early revivalist.

Jerry Bird has collected together numerous references to mumming plays in Dorset, and the paper is well illustrated with photographs from the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library and elsewhere. The incident in which the Fordington mummers did battle with the Bockhampton band in Dorchester in 1845 is covered, with contemporary newspaper accounts reproduced here in full for the first time.The author explores the social and economic background to this event in the context of the upheavals of the time amongst the rural workforce, which included rick-burnings and the’Swing riots’ as well as the Tolpuddle Martyrs’ trial.

The well-known folklorist John Symonds Udal, author of Dorsetshire Folk-lore was an early collector of mumming plays, and fortunately the author was able to have access to his original play scripts and notes. There seems to have been a distinctive character to West Dorset plays in particular, which incorporated other traditions such as the ‘hobby horse’ and the Dorset Ooser.

The Appendix includes the scripts of ten Dorset plays, including Hardy’s own version. These are well annotated with extensive notes, and illustrations, including some musical notation and a photograph of one of Udal’s original scripts.

Other Papers in the Proceedings include:

  • Mabel St Clair Stobart 1862-1954: The Lady of the Black Horse, Peter Down, 1-19
  • ‘Primitive Betrothal’: The Portland Custom and Thomas Hardy’s The Well-Beloved, Jacqueline Dillion, 20-32
  • Sir Claude Scott and the development of Lytchett Minster in the nineteenth century, June Palmer, 33-45
  • How the Newburghs of Lulworth came to own Sutton Poyntz, William Egerton, 46-55
  • The Poets’ Christmas Eve: mythology into verse, Alan Chedzoy, 56-61
  • An account of Mary Anning (1799-1847), fossil collector of Lyme Regis, Dorset, England, published by Henry Rowland Brown (1837-1921) in the second edition (1859) of Beauties of Lyme Regis, Michael A. Taylor and Hugh S. Torrens, 62-70
  • An anonymous account of Mary Anning (1799-1847), fossil collector of Lyme Regis, Dorset, England, published in All the year round in 1865, and its attribution to Henry Stuart Fagan (1827-1890), schoolmaster, parson and author, Michael A. Taylor and Hugh S. Torrens, 71-85
  • Mumming Plays in Hardy’s Wessex, Jerry Bird, 86-148
  • The Cyril Diver Project, John Newbould and David Brown, 149-159
  • The Steve Etches collection of Kimmeridge Clay fossils: a Jurassic jewel on the Jurassic Coast, David M. Martill, 160-164
  • Severe drought and exceptional summer flooding: consequences for the South Winterborne macroinvertebrates, J. A. B. Bass, Patrick D. Armitage and J. L. Pretty, 165-166
  • Coastal landslide mapping of the Black Ven Spittles complex, Charmouth, Chloe Morris and Servel Miller, 167-180
  • New insect fossils from the Lower Lias (Lower Jurassic) of West Dorset, Robert A. Coram, 181-188
  • The gastropod and ammonite fauna of two anomalous facies in the Inferior Oolite of Burton Cliff, South Dorset, John Whicher, David Sole and Robert Chandler, 189-197


  • Hengistbury Head, Bournemouth, Mike Trevarthen, 198
  • Wood Hill, Charlton Down, Charminster, Richard Tabor and Cheryl Green, 198
  • 2 Wick Lane, Christchurch, Mike Trevarthen, 198
  • HMP Dorchester, Dorchester, Tom Weavill, 198
  • Max Gate, Dorchester, Mike Trevarthen, 198-199
  • Wall behind Wadham House, 50 High West Street, Dorchester, Richard Tabor and Cheryl Green, 199
  • New sea wall, Kimmeridge Bay, Kimmeridge, Mike Trevarthen, 199
  • Keates Quarry, Home Field, Acton, Langton Matravers, Mike Trevarthen, 199
  • Lewis Quarry, Home Field, Acton, Langton Matravers, Peter Bellamy, 199
  • Bottle Knap Cottage, Long Bredy, Mike Trevarthen, 199
  • Geophysical survey of the South Lawn, Kingston Lacy Park, Pamphill, Martin Papworth, 199-200
  • Limekilns at Inmosthay Industrial Estate, Inmosthay, Portland, Richard Tabor and Cheryl Green, 200
  • Land to the west of Reap Lane, Southwell, Portland, Richard Tabor and Cheryl Green, 200-201
  • Sherborne House, Newland, Sherborne, Richard Tabor and Cheryl Green, 201
  • Belle Vue Farm, Herston, Swanage, Lilian Ladle, 201
  • Geophysical survey of Long Mound, Beacon Knap, Swyre, Martin Papworth, 201-202
  • Chapelhay Gardens, Weymouth, Peter Bellamy, 202
  • Land to the south of Chickerell Road, Wyke Regis, Weymouth, Richard Tabor and Cheryl Green, 202
  • South Dorset Ridgeway: Purlands Farm (Winterborne St Martin) to north of Tatton House (Portesham), Richard Tabor and Cheryl Green, 202-203
  • Cross Farm, Church Street, Yetminster, Richard Tabor and Cheryl Green, 203
  • Dewlish Roman villa: post-excavation report 2013, Iain Hewitt, 203-204
  • The Langton Herring mirror and grave goods, Jon Murden, 205-208
  • The Roman villa at Druce Farm, near Puddletown, Lilian Ladle, 209-211
  • Ower Quay, Keith Jarvis, 212-216
  • The Durotriges Project, phase one: an interim statement, Miles Russell, Paul Cheetham, Damian Evans, Ellen Hambleton, Iain Hewitt, Harry Manley and Martin Smith, 217-221
  • Roman Purbeck Limestone mortars, John Palmer, 222-234
  • Portable Antiquities Scheme 2013, Ciorstaidh Hayward Trevarthen, 235-236
  • Excavation of c. eighteenth-century wall footings at Hive Beach, Burton Bradstock, Martin Papworth, 237-240
  • Roman remains found at Hyde Farm, Shapwick, Kingston Lacy Estate, Martin Papworth, 241
  • The Romano-Celtic temple at Badbury Rings, Dorset, Martin Papworth, 242-271
  • Investigations on the south shore of Brownsea Island by the Dorset Alum and Copperas Industries Project, Peter S. Bellamy, Gill Broadbent, Mark Corney and Clare Wilson, 272-283
  • Investigations at Kimmeridge Bay by the Dorset Alum and Copperas Industries Project, Peter S. Bellamy, Gill Broadbent, Mark Corney, Alan Hawkins, Mike Trevarthen and Clare Wilson, 284-296
  • Investigations on the Studland Circles by the Dorset Alum and Copperas Industries Project, Peter S. Bellamy, Gill Broadbent, Mark Corney and Clare Wilson, 297-310

County Boundary Survey

  • Hampreston: A parish in the counties of Dorset and Hampshire, J. W. Hart, 311-315
  • Boundaries of Dorset, J. W. Hart, 316-319
  • The Dorset County Boundary Survey 2013, Katherine Barker, 320-324
  • The Dorset County boundary at Biddlesgate, between the parishes of Cranborne (Dorset) and Damerham (Hampshire from 1885; formerly Wiltshire), Katherine Barker, 325-333


  • A. Eccles, Vagrancy in law and practice under the Old Poor Law, Martin Ayres, 334-335
  • Michael Millgate and Keith Wilson (eds), The collected letters of Thomas Hardy, volume VIII: further letters, Will Abberley, 335-336
  • Michael Hill, East Dorset country houses, Helen Brown, 336-337


  • Liz-Anne Bawden MBE (1931-2012), Max Hebditch, 338-339

Natural history reports 2013

  • General weather survey, John Oliver, 340-341
  • Dorset rainfall, John Oliver, 341-345
  • Butterfly survey, Bill Shreeves, 345-349
  • Frome Valley winter bird survey, John Newbould and John Campbell, 350-351
  • Some Dorset plant gall record highlights, John Newbould, 351-352
  • Field meeting reports, John Newbould, 352-355
  • County Boundary Survey visits, Katherine Barker and John Newbould, 355-357

Local auction report 2013, Gwen Yarker, 358-359

Report of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society for 2013, 360-372

Index, 373-376

Notes for contributors, 377-378


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An Englishman’s Home – a play by Major Guy du Maurier

An Englishman’s Home – a play by Major Guy du MaurierA dramatic play reading provides the final event associated with Dorset County Museum’s current exhibition, A Dorset Woman at War. On 16th October The New Hardy Players will be reading a play originally published in 1909. An Englishman’s Home caused a sensation when it came out anonymously under the name, A Patriot. It later came known to be the work of Captain Guy du Maurier, a British officer. An uncle to Daphne du Maurier, his play was said to have influenced her famous novel, The Birds. An Englishman’s Home went on to be a long-running success and was later made into a film.

“This play was politically provocative and was deliberately designed to frighten its audiences” says Jon Murden, director of Dorset County Museum. “Writers like du Maurier were frequently criticised as scaremongers by leading politicians of the day, but unfortunately their fears were ultimately proved correct by the outbreak of the First World War.”

The semi-staged play will be performed with some costumes and props and is set almost entirely in the sitting room of a suburban house in Essex. It tells the story of a fictional attack on England by an unknown enemy (generally assumed to be Germany). The alarming nature of the story, at a time of increasing tension between Britain and Germany, served to highlight the unreadiness of Britain to repel such an attack and was credited with boosting army recruitment in the years immediately prior to World War I. It also influenced Mabel Stobart, the subject of the Museum’s current exhibition.

Tickets for the play reading cost £7.00 and include a complimentary glass of wine or a soft drink. The event starts at 7.30pm on Thursday 16th October and all are welcome. Tickets are available now from the Museum Shop on 01305 756827. For further information see

A British Heroine of the First World War – Private breakfast tour of WWI exhibition by Curator.

Dr. Peter Down

Dr. Peter Down

A private tour of Dorset County Museum’s current exhibition, A Dorset Woman at War, is taking place on Wednesday 17th September. The tour will be led by one of the exhibition’s curators, Dr. Peter Down.

The tour is a great opportunity to see the exhibition up close and hear the story of a remarkable Dorset woman, Mabel St Clair Stobart, who took her medical team to the Serbian front line in 1915. Following the tour, a continental breakfast will be provided in the Museum’s Tea Room.

The tour starts at 8.45am on Wednesday 17th September and tickets cost £12.50. There are a limited number of spaces available and places must be booked in advance.

For further information and to book tickets phone the Museum Shop on 01305 756827 or visit our website at

A British Woman on the Eastern Front a talk by Dr Angela K. Smith

Mabel Stobart in Red Cross uniform, 1914.

Mabel Stobart in Red Cross uniform, 1914.

A Dorset Woman at War, the current exhibition at Dorset County Museum, features the exploits of a remarkable Dorset woman, Mabel Stobart. On Thursday 7th August at 7.30pm, Dr. Angela K. Smith will give an illustrated talk about Stobart and other British women who served on the Eastern Front during the First World War.

In October 1915, Mabel St Clair Stobart led her First Serbian-English Field Hospital along the Serbian front line. But the line was retreating; the combined forces of the Austrian, German and now the Bulgarian armies was more than the Serb soldiers could deal with, exhausted as they were from four years of war. As the retreat escalated into a mass exodus of soldiers and civilians, headed for the mountains of Montenegro and Albania, Stobart’s unit went with them.

But Stobart’s journey into war began several years earlier, on the cliffs above Studland Bay in Dorset, where she set up her first medical training camp. Recently returned from South Africa, and widowed, Stobart had been attracted to the movement for Women’s Suffrage, but had her own ideas about how the vote might best be won. And what better way than demonstrating that women could perform as well as men on the field of battle? Stobart determined to bring everyone in her unit through the retreat from Serbia alive: against all the odds, she did. This lecture examines how she achieved this, and the wider implications for the Dorset woman.

Angela Smith is an Associate Professor at Plymouth University. She specialises in war writing, with a particular interest in the First World War and gender issues. Her latest monograph, Women of the Eastern Front: British Women in Serbia and Russia 1914-19 will be published in 2015.

Entry to the talk is free but donations are encouraged. Doors are open at 7.00pm; the lecture will commence at 7.30pm. A Dorset Woman at War continues until 15th November.

On 16th October the Museum will host a play-reading by the New Hardy Players of a play written by Guy du Maurier. Tickets for the play-reading cost £10.00 and are available now from the Museum Shop.

For more information please Tel: 01305 262735 or visit our website at

WWI Exploits of Dorset Woman Recognised at Dorset County Museum

Mabel Stobart in Red Cross uniform, 1914.

Mabel Stobart in Red Cross uniform, 1914.

The current exhibition at Dorset County Museum – A Dorset Woman at War – recognises a remarkable Dorset woman, Mabel Stobart, who played an important role in Serbia during the First World War. On Wednesday 16th July at 7.30pm, Dr Peter Down will talk about Stobart and what she achieved under impossible circumstances.

In 1915 the world’s worst epidemic of typhus broke out in Serbia, a country already exhausted by war. Around 150,000 people died, including nearly half the country’s doctors and their medical services became overwhelmed. By April 1915 British medical teams, including Stobart’s unit, had gone to their aid.

Peter Down said, “Mabel Stobart took ambulances, X-ray machines and medical supplies and set up a hospital south of Belgrade providing the civilian population with much-needed free treatment.”

When German and Austrian troops invaded the country later that year, Stobart and her women-only team of doctors and nurses were forced to retreat south with the bulk of the Serbian army and then go west over the mountains of Montenegro, to final safety on the Adriatic coast.

On the 800-mile journey over 100,000 soldiers and civilian refugees died of hunger, disease and the cold, but Stobart and her remaining nurses continued to care for them as best they could, with severely diminished resources and equipment. As a result of her efforts, Mabel Stobart is still regarded as a heroine in Serbia today.

Entry to the lecture is FREE but donations are encouraged. Doors are open at 7.00pm; the lecture will commence at 7.30pm.

For further information see A Dorset Woman at War continues until 15th November 2014 – further talks and events based on the exhibition will follow.

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New Exhibition opens at Dorset Museum to Commemorate First World War

Kate Adie and members of the Stobart Family at the Exhibition Launch

Kate Adie and members of the Stobart Family at the Exhibition Launch

A Dorset Woman at War: Mabel Stobart and the Retreat from Serbia 1915.

A special exhibition has just opened at Dorset County Museum commemorating the centenary of the start of the First World War. The exhibition focuses on the story of one Dorset woman, Mabel St Clair Stobart, exploring her life and the role she played during the epic retreat of the Serbian army in 1915.

The Museum has a collection of unique photographs recording Mabel Stobart’s experiences in Serbia. They trace her intrepid journey from the tented field hospital she established near the front line and the relentless 800 mile trek through the Albanian mountains to her final escape from Scutari.

Lady of the Black Horse by George Rankin

Painting of Mabel Stobart – ‘Lady of the Black Horse’ by George Rankin, 1916, Red Cross Museum

Her story is exceptional, not only for the adventures she experienced but because she was motivated by bettering the lot of women. She led her mission to Serbia in the face of opposition from another famous Dorset figure, Sir Frederick Treves, who felt there was no place for women in the Serbian conflict.

The photographs of Stobart’s adventures are highly graphic and do not flinch from the horrors of war. When Kodak developed them for her subsequent lecture tour of America, they were so impressed that they were blown up, mounted and hung in the Kodak head office.

The exhibition reveals the extraordinary story of a powerful and determined woman who frequented the salons of London Society but was also a feminist, playwright and farmer.
A Dorset Woman at War runs until Saturday 15th November 2014. Opening times at the Museum are 10.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Saturday. The Museum will also be open on the first four Sundays in August.

This exhibition is sponsored by:

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New Appeal Launched at Dorset County Museum

Dorset County Museum AppealLast week saw the launch of a brand new fundraising appeal at Dorset County Museum.

The new Development Appeal has been set up to raise money for a purpose-built facility in the centre of Dorchester to store the Museum’s extensive collections and provide working areas for volunteers and visiting researchers.  In addition, the project will include a bespoke education and lecture room for use by both schools and the local community.

Individuals wishing to support the scheme have the opportunity to buy a personalised plaque which will be placed in prime position on the Museum’s dramatic staircase.  They will also receive free entry to the Museum for a year and their name will be added to the development appeal donation register.  The cost of a plaque is £100.

Jon Murden (centre), Peter Down (second from front), Paul Atterbury (front) and Museum volunteers launch the fundraising project at Dorset County Museum

Jon Murden (centre), Peter Down (second from front), Paul Atterbury (front) and Museum volunteers launch the fundraising project at Dorset County Museum

The first plaque was bought by Museum advocate Paul Atterbury from the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow.  Paul has recently become a trustee at the Museum and wanted to show his support for the project.  His plaque has been named in memory of his great uncle Lewis who died during the Battle of the Somme.

Museum director Jon Murden said, “We are hoping for a good response to this new appeal – the money raised will be used to kick-start the project and we will then be seeking financial support from major trusts and fundraising bodies like the Heritage Lottery Fund.“

Further fundraising events are planned for next year. Jon added, “We want to get local people involved because the project will include new galleries and archives which will be accessible to the public. Ultimately everyone will benefit because we will be able to display many more objects from our unique collections.“

Anyone wishing to support the campaign by buying a plaque should contact the Museum on 01305 262735 or see the website on