Hardy, Wessex and the Poetry of War by Phillip Mallett

Phillip MallettOn Thursday 29th October at the Dorset County Museum Phillip Mallett of St Andrews University is giving a talk entitled ‘Hardy, Wessex and the Poetry of War’. Doors open at 7.00pm for a 7.30pm start.

Boer War‘Few persons are more martial than I,’ wrote Thomas Hardy, ‘or like better to write of war in prose & rhyme.’

The war in South Africa, 1899-1902, divided British opinion more deeply than any previous war had done; it began with defeats, and ended with concentration camps and a scorched earth policy. This talk traces Hardy’s response to the war, to military values, and to the impact of war on enlisted men and civilians.

This FREE talk is open to all. To cover costs, a small donation of £3.00 is encouraged. The talk will take place in the Museum’s Victorian Gallery.

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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Second World War Drama ‘Stronghold of Happiness’ at the Dorset County Museum

Kitty Sansom and Toby Ingram in the play 'Stronghold of Happiness'

Kitty Sansom and Toby Ingram in the play ‘Stronghold of Happiness’

In 2015, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the ending of Second World War, Dorset couple, Peter and Ella Samways, have answered an advert placed by the local drama college, for couples who were married in Second World War to write in with their story.

They are excited when their story is chosen for dramatization, and are invited to watch a rehearsal of the play and to answer questions posed by the actors about the war and local history.

Watching their story unfold, with its shattering wartime events, turns out to be more dramatic and cathartic than the couple initially realised.

Stronghold of Happiness PosterThe play based on the book ‘Stronghold of Happinessby Devina Symes is fiction based on fact, and includes the true story of the RAF’s 151 wing’s unique mission to Russia, where the latter were the only members of His Majesty’s Forces to serve alongside the Russians as allies, and were on the first convoy to leave the United Kingdom.

Intrinsic to the story is Peter’s father, Archie, who, like other Dorset characters, copes with the dark side of life through humour and wisdom, and makes innocent observations about life at that time, little realising he is standing on the cusp of a vanishing world.

The performance is at the Dorset County Museum on Saturday 17th October 2015.  Tickets for the play cost £7.00 each to include a complimentary glass of wine or juice, and nibbles. Tickets are available from Dorset County Museum Shop or by telephone on 01305 756827. All proceeds will go to the refurbishment of the William Barnes Gallery at the Dorset County Museum.

  • 1940s dress optional!. Please note this event contains adult themes and is not suitable for children

Sponsored by Mark Cummins Chartered Certified Accountants & Tax Advisers www.cumminsaccountants.co.uk

Recording Wartime Shipping on the Thames: The Dazzle Paintings of John Everett by Gwen Yarker.

Lepanto by John Everett

‘Lepanto’ by John Everett, c. 1918

John Everett was one of the few official war artists of the First World War. He worked for the Ministry of Information on paintings connected with seaborne commerce, using his experience as a deep-water sailor to give his work a sense of unqualified realism. He specialised in the interpretation of the military’s use of ‘dazzle’ – a colourful camouflaging technique used to disguise ships at sea. Nothing revealed to the landsman better than Everett’s work the beauty that camouflage – through grim necessity – brought to wartime shipping.

Dorchester-born John Everett produced a remarkable and unique body of work centred on Atlantic convoys. On his death he bequeathed all remaining maritime works in his possession to the National Maritime Museum which now holds the most important collection of his paintings in the world.

Gwen Yarker MA, FSA, FRHistS, is an independent art historian, formerly art curator at the National Maritime Museum, specialising in British art and the life and work of John Everett. On Friday 23rd January 2015 she will give a lecture at Dorset County Museum about Everett’s paintings of the Dazzle ships on the Thames.

All are welcome to this event which is FREE although donations are welcome to cover costs. The lecture will start at 7.30pm and doors are open from 7.00pm. For more information phone 01305 262735 or visit www.dorsetcountymuseum.org.

Special guests at Dorset County Museum

Jon Murden, Jenny Cripps, Emilija Marinkov and Zvezdana Popovic at Dorset County Museum

Jon Murden, Jenny Cripps, Emilija Marinkov and Zvezdana Popovic at Dorset County Museum

Representatives from Serbian Embassy in London visit ‘A Dorset Woman at War’ exhibition at Dorchester Museum.

Last week staff at Dorset County Museum were delighted to welcome special visitors from the Embassy of the Republic of Serbia. Emilija Marinkov, Second Secretary of Political Affairs, Press and Cultural Affairs was joined by Zvezdana Popovic when they travelled from London to view the current exhibition A Dorset Woman at War.

The exhibition, which runs until 15th November, recognises a remarkable Dorset woman, Mabel Stobart, who played an important role in Serbia during the First World War.

Jon Murden, director of Dorset County Museum said, “We were thrilled to meet Emilija and Zvezdana from the Serbian Embassy. Mabel Stobart is still regarded as a heroine in Serbia for the part she played during the First World War, and it’s great that they could come down from London to see the exhibition for themselves.”

For more information about the exhibition visit www.dorsetcountymuseum.org

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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 www.dorsetcountymuseum.org

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 www.dorsetcountymuseum.org.

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 www.dorsetcountymuseum.org.

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 www.dorsetcountymuseum.org. 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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Summer Offer links two Dorchester Museums

The KeepSave money on joint visits to both Dorset County Museum and The Keep Military Museum during summer 2014.

Dorchester’s two traditional Museums are combining their forces in a special money-off deal for visitors to the county town.

From Saturday 24th May until Saturday 30th August 2014, a visit to either Dorset County Museum or The Keep Military Museum will automatically give visitors £1.50 off the adult price for the other museum.

This offer is a brand new initiative in an ongoing series of joint activities between the two museums which will also include a new range of learning opportunities for schools and other interested groups.

“We have wanted to run a joint entry deal for a while now, and this summer seemed the perfect time to do it.” said Jon Murden of Dorset County Museum. “Visitors will simply retain their first till receipt or voucher to receive a money-off deal in the second museum they visit – both visits will have to be made between 24 May and 30 August to qualify.”

Chris Copson, Curator of The Keep Military Museum said, “We want people to feel that they can justify visiting more than just one of the museums in Dorchester. If this offer results in more people finding out about the military and general history of Dorchester and the surrounding areas we will be very happy.”

Dorset County Museum’s Rachel Cole explains how both museums are also linking together with a World War I theme in the summer. “We are running an important exhibition, A Dorset Woman at War, from 31st May and The Keep will be opening a brand new Trench display in a few weeks. As our museums are just a few minutes’ walk apart, we want to encourage visitors to visit and benefit from not just one, but both of these important experiences.”

With visitors anticipated to be particularly interested in attractions with a First World War theme this summer, both Museums feel that this is the perfect time for such a collaboration.