Beaminster Museum

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We’d love you to visit us this season to see what has been happening during months of building work and re-instating the old building. And peep into the new rooms opening in Spring 2022 through their entrances. Use our new interactive screens, enjoy updates of exhibitions, visit our temporary exhibition “Growing for Gold” digging into the history of gardens and allotments in our area, including a Chelsea medal…. and so much more.  Local residents as well as holidaymakers will definitely learn something they never knew before!

COVID Policy from July 24 th 2021

GROWING FOR GOLD : A history of gardening and allotmenteering, and a Chelsea Flower show Gold Medal

This summer we have a temporary exhibition commemorating the gardening heritage of the town, and especially those involved in winning a Chelsea Flower Show Gold medal.

There will be special events associated with this exhibition on the afternoon of Monday September 20 and Wednesday September 22.

Heritage Open Days 2021 Saturday 11 September to Sunday 19th September

We will be open and especially welcoming to visitors for the celebration of Heritage, a national event organised by the National Trust. Beaminster Museum was Built as a Chapel, and converted in 1990, and demonstrates how a listed building can be modified to meet present-day needs.

Heritage agriculture and horticulture displays and much more. Visitors will be able to see into the 2 new rooms built in 2021, though not in use as exhibition space till next year.

With this year’s theme of Edible England, see our cobwebby, rodent-infested barn with farm implements of bygone days, along with exhibits and artefacts from the worlds of sheep, milk and arable. Our “Growing for Gold” exhibit digs into the history of gardens and allotments in our area, including a Chelsea gold medal. Other local displays include geology, prehistory, flax and sailcloth, a glimpse into the living room of a local sailcloth weaver from the 19th century. Also a self-guided tour of images of our parishes – megaliths, big houses, famous people and ordinary people, quirky events and important events. For more details and times, see our EVENTS page.

Volunteering

Being entirely volunteer run, we are always interested to chat with prospective volunteers.  We may be closed at the moment but there will be plenty to do in the year ahead. A wide range of opportunities are available to fit in with your interests and time availability.  Whilst it is not possible to visit the building at present with the ongoing building works, our curator would be very happy to have an initial  chat with you about volunteer opportunities.  He can be contacted at info@beaminstermuseum.co.uk     We’d love to hear from you.

Extending Beaminster Museum into the community 

Thanks to a National Lottery grant of £99,000 enabling us to build a two-storey rear extension, we will soon have new, much needed space to welcome visiting groups of all ages, to expand our displays and to be an even better focus of local heritage within our community.

Come and Visit the Museum for Rural West Dorset!

Please read the latest news on the Visit page for 2021 season opening information.  Covering Beaminster and the parishes of Broadwindsor, Burstock, Chedington, Corscombe, Halstock, Hooke, Mapperton, Mosterton, Netherbury, Seaborough, South Perrott, Stoke Abbott and Thorncombe.

Beaminster Museum reflects and interprets the rich social history of this rural West Dorset market town and the surrounding villages.

‘Delightful. One of the best small museums I have seen.’

We have been awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

The town and its surroundings


From the Middle Ages Beaminster has been a market town in an agricultural environment. Sheep farming once predominated, but dairy farming is now more important. A thriving flax industry provided work for all ages in the 18th and 19th centuries. Much of the flax was spun and woven into sailcloth, and this area was the main supplier for the British Navy.

Communication has always been a challenge. The surrounding countryside is hilly, so the canals and railways never came. One remarkable feat of pre-Victorian civil engineering was Horn Hill Tunnel, still busy today. But a combination of transport difficulties, competition from cotton sails and steamships, and a series of agricultural depressions led to a decline in the importance of the local area.

Some examples of our displays


Ancient times

Our impressive fossil collection is backed by geological and palaeontological information describing the significance of Horn Park Quarry, which can be visited by prior arrangement through the Museum.

( Shown is a prepared specimen of Brasilia Gigantea from the Middle Jurassic Aalenian Aa11 Zone at Horn Park Quarry.)

We also have a range of Stone-Age hand axes, including pre-Neanderthal specimens over 250,000 years old which were found locally. There are also displays of local Bronze Age and Iron Age finds, alongside exhibits from a nearby Roman villa in Halstock and Waddon Hill Roman Fort.


Agriculture

Agricultural implements in a barn

Our Agriculture Corner features a cobwebby, rodent-infested barn with farm implements of bygone days. There are exhibits and artefacts from the worlds of sheep, milk and arable.


Flax and sailcloth

Flax strands

Our exhibition is the result of a special study, giving a unique insight into the local industry, from the growing of the crop to the weaving of linen  to produce canvas, nets, smocks and sailcloth.




Shop

Our shop is full of things associated with  our area. It is ideal for finding gifts with a local flavour, including books written by our own volunteers. Many of these items are exclusive to the museum.


The building

The museum was formerly a Congregational chapel. Converted in 1990, it demonstrates how a ‘listed’ building can be modified to meet present-day needs. The building is a fine example of a non-conformist chapel which, in its time, played an important role in the town, supported by many individuals involved in manufacture and commerce. It was extended at the rear in 2020. The chapel’s 19th century chamber organ has been fully restored and is still played regularly.


Research

We have an enthusiastic, skilled research team and an extensive local reference section containing files on Beaminster and all our other parishes. Many of your questions might find answers here. We are happy to help out with family history mysteries while adding our own experience and local knowledge to standard resource tools.




Privacy Policy

No personally identifiable information is gathered by this website unless you send us an email direct from the site or comment on a page. For emails,  only the information needed to process the email and forward it to the Museum’s recipient is collected. We never share your details with any third party unless you give us express permission in writing.