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              Beaminster Museum Winter Talks 2023– 2024

2.00pm. Entry £5 per person.

  First come, first seated!

07/11/23Liz CopasSearching for lost orchards in Dorset (With book signing after)
14/11/23Chris TrippA Digger’s Life in commercial and community archaeology  
28/11/23Georgia PiggottResearching a novel set in 17th century Dorset (With book signing after)  
12/12/23Nick SerpellThe Victorian celebration of death
09/01/24Pauline ThorneImbeciles and lunatics: Mental health care in 18th and 19th century Dorset  
06/02/24Brian EarlSouth Perrott’s own Forty-Niner: John Larcombe’s Californian adventure  
20/02/24Ciorstaidh Heyward TrevarthenRecent local finds through the Portable Antiquities Scheme

Welcome to the 2023 /2024 season of Beaminster Museum Winter Talks.

For the latest information, please see our website,

or our Facebook or Instagram entries.

Talk synopses

07th November:  In 2007 the pomologist Liz Copas and cidermaker Nick Poole began a search to find and identify lost varieties of cider apple trees. The book ‘Searching for lost orchards in Dorset’ is both a record of a quest that lasted a decade and a rallying call to preserve the county’s heritage.

14th November:  Chris Tripp will be digging into his personal archaeological story. He will share some of the highlights of his thirty-year career exploring the deeper past as a professional archaeologist and helping local communities discover the heritage they share under their feet.

28th November:  Georgia Piggott’s interest in local history led to her debut novel ‘Just Causes’. The talk will focus on the sources she drew on to bring her characters and the setting to life, including historical recipes and plague remedies that proved deadlier than the disease. 

12th December:  For more than 10 years Nick worked as the BBC’s obituary writer, a role which fed his interest in genealogy. In this talk Nick will be exploring the elaborate rituals and etiquette that evolved in the Victorian age to help families deal with grief and the inevitability of death.    

9th January:  The talk presents some case studies of local people and institutions to examine the changing response to mental illness in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. What was seen as the likely cause of insanity and how did they attempt to cure it?

6th February:  Hundreds of thousands of prospectors flocked to California during the Gold Rush. One such hopeful was local man John Larcombe. This talk will reveal what drove him to seek his fortune on the other side of the world and whether he struck it rich.

20th February: Archaeological items found by the public and recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) scheme have much tell us about Dorset’s past. In this talk Dorset Council’s Finds Liaison Officer Ciorstaidh Heyward Trevarthen shares some fascinating local finds.

Apples, orchards and cider

Our special display this summer highlights the importance of “Apples, orchards and cider”, from times past when cider was included as part of labourers’ wages to the modern cider enterprises using our most suitable soils. Learn about the role of apples and orchards in the economic and social life of this part of West Dorset. Even today, annual juice production is about 1.25 million litres or 2.2 million pints.  This is a lot of cider!

The apples are growing in the unpredictable rain and sun ready for the harvest in the autumn. Producers and customers alike are hoping for a good crop!

Portable Antiquities Scheme Open Day – Saturday Jan 13th 2024

Ciorstaidh Heyward Trevarthen (Dorset Finds Liaison Officer for the national Portable Antiquities Scheme, ) will be at the Museum on: Saturday 13th January 11.00 – 3.00 as the next Finds Identification session at the museum. As we will be in the closed season, this will be slightly different in that visitors will not be able to wander round the building while waiting their turn, but we hope to be able to offer some options to pass the time waiting !