Tours of the Stores weekend

The weekend of the 13 and 14 September 2014 the museum celebrated Dorset Architectural Heritage Week by offering free admission to visitors and organising tours of the museum stores. The weekend proved a huge success. We ran three tours each day where visitors got a behind-the-scenes look at our new stores, the collections and an introduction to the history of the Priest's House.

Our volunteer Barbara is telling interested visitors about the history of the building during one of the guided tours

The volunteers had rallied and there were two eminent orators, Brian and Sue, who held talks on the history of the house and the collections. With over 35 000 objects making up the costume, childhood, archaeology, Victorian valentine’s cards, local history collections etc. they could have kept talking for days! The life of the museum, from important gentleman’s residence through grocer’s, stationer’s and ironmonger’s before becoming a community museum founded by Miss Hilda Coles, also proved an entertaining subject.

In the Hilda Coles Open Learning Centre a temporary display was set up for the weekend and manned by Cherry, a volunteer with the museum’s archaeology team, which featured various archaeological finds from the excavations at Tarrant Hinton from the 1960s to the 1980s. Cherry showed pottery, fruit and herbs and animal bones related to Roman culinary traditions, a human skeleton from the Iron Age period and there was a hands-on section with various pottery, bones, snails, herbs, tesserae and roof tiles that drew visitors in.

Brian holding a talk on the history of the house and the collections
Cherry talking to visitors about the culinary traditions of the Romans

The visitors who opted to attend the tours held on the Saturday, guided by Barbara, Brian, Sue and Christina, got a bit of a surprise when they entered the archaeology gallery. There they were greeted by two (very friendly) Roman soldiers from the 2nd Augusta, in full combat gear, who proceeded to tell the avid listeners about life as a soldier in the Roman army. There was lots of flashing of steel swords and showing-off of shields, spears and sandals.

Roman soldiers from the 2nd Augusta greeting visitors in the archaeology gallery

Luckily the weather was on our side and visitors could enjoy refreshments in the garden tearoom and on the patio. Many commented on our gorgeous garden with the stream running along the far end, the colourful and fragrant flowers, and many fruit trees. The star of the show though proved to be the medlar tree, Mespilus Germanica, which got (almost) as much attention as our tour guides!

Our lovely tearooms, with access to the garden served refreshments during the weekend

Christina Lundberg


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