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

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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.

Dorchester and the Great War

Leaving the Somme Trenches 1st or 6th Dorsets

Leaving the Somme Trenches 1st or 6th Dorsets © The Keep Military Museum 2014

Visitors to the Corn Exchange on Friday 8th August 2014 can step back in time to experience what life was like in Dorchester during the Great War.

This year marks the centenary of the beginning of World War One in which over 4,500 Dorset soldiers lost their lives.

The free event has been organised by a consortium of partners including Dorchester Town Council, Dorset Youth Association, Dorset County Museum, The Keep Military Museum, a local historian and Dorchester Rotary Club. Any money raised will go to The Rifles “Care for Casualties” appeal.

The Mayor will open the event at 10:00am and at 10:30am Dorset Youth Association will launch the ‘Walking in their Shoes’ First World War Interactive History trail funded by a grant of £28,200 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

1st Battalion Dorsets manning Trench 38 Hill 60 - Ypres Spring 1915.

1st Battalion Dorsets manning Trench 38 Hill 60 – Ypres Spring 1915. Soldier making a makeshift periscope to view German Trench © The Keep Military Museum 2014

There will be talks by local historian Brian Bates and Curator at the Keep Military Museum, Chris Copson.

“It is important to commemorate the sacrifice and the achievement of British soldiers in the war.”

“It was a war of ordinary people achieving extraordinary things.”

“If what we are doing gives people a more accurate idea of what the war was like, that’s very important,” says Chris.

Visitors will even be able to dress up in Tommy Uniform, listen to a performance of World War One songs and try some rationed WW1 stew and cake. Bring any WW1 memorabilia to be identified by an expert and share your WW1 family history stories at the listening post. Children can take part in a trench art workshop and have a go at geocaching along the ‘Walking in their Shoes’ trail. The Durnovaria Silver Band will round up the day with a performance at 3:00pm before doors close at 7:00pm.

For further information please contact Steve Newman on 01305 266861 or email s.newman@dorchester-tc.gov.uk.

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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.