Now you know why Mary is always smiling!

She sends this to give us a smile…

‘Just realised Old Sarum is an anagram for SOLAR MUD

And Danebury is an anagram for BUN, DEARY? (vision of Iron Age warrior pacifying attacking Romans with something to eat…)

And BIG FURY GRINS is an anagram of Figsbury Ring!

Over to you Volunteers. Are there any more like this?!



The usual busy week often doesn’t allow for readers’ comments on past blogs to be included. However, they are very welcome and are not ignored. Please use the comment facility (top right of each blog) to keep in touch. Here is a selection from earlier in the year:

“Interesting reading about Florence Nightingale. Thank you. They do have a small amount of memorabilia on display at Wilton House. I also recommend a visit to the church at Wellow where she is buried.” Mags Kirby

“Love the Salisbury museum blog“. A Livingstone

We live in a far-flung postcode which dictates that we are occasional visitors. What we have seen we have enjoyed and with luck we shall see some of this year’s exhibitions. What we have heard is as impressive. We know the Museum, for all its professional creativity and direction, survives with the support of the enthusiastic, knowledgeable and dedicated band of volunteers. Without them the Museum would have died a death by a thousand cuts as might the high-flyer at the top of the ladderKSR.
We would know that face anywhere.

All the way from Russia….

“Dear Alan Crooks!
Thanks for the interesting story! The city of Salisbury helped Stalingrad during the war years!
Thanks to the people of Salisbury for their help
Sincerely, Alexander Bunin

“I think the Tudor spoon shown may be a dole spoon.
Breamore has a medieval one in their kitchen. It is supposed to hold enough food to sustain a starving person for a day. Maybe this spoon is smaller, but it is an interesting thought.”
S Brumfitt

Does anyone know any more about dole spoons? Let us know…..

And all the way from New Zealand….

Thank you Alan – loved the photo, and your commentary. A lot of nostalgia! My family and I left Salisbury in 1965, for New Zealand where we settled, and seeing this photo brought back many memories.R Gay

The Salisbury Museum Website


All museum staff are still working, even though, in line with government recommendations, the museum is closed. There is a lot going on.

The blog is live (as you can see) and comments on items are welcome (see top right of each item). Any material – articles, photographs, reminiscences – are welcome for consideration and may help create the museum’s future archive of on-going extra-ordinary events.

Louise Tunnard – Communications Officer and whizz with social media – is keeping everyone up-to-date with twitter, facebook, etc and wonderful ‘live’ views of our exhibitions are beginning to appear.

St Leonards Artist Albert Goodwin (double click on picture for link)

Find Part I on YouTube by following this link

and find more on the front page of the website…

SALISBURY AND COLOUR by Volunteer Alan Clarke


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Alan is back!

The museum, through its volunteers, can process large quantities (thousands) of donated glass plate negatives, up to around A4 size, within a few months.

Amongst the last batch of over a thousand there was a colour one; the rest are the usual black and white.  On examination, this is the only colour one of this type that the museum has.  

It is made up of a number of very thin glass plates stuck together.  Each of these glass plates is for one colour only, just like your computer screen, where each pixel is made up of only blue, red and green colours at different intensities.  This manages to persuade your brain to see all the colours in a typical digital colour image.  For these colour glass plates, the photographer would have had his camera securely mounted on a tripod, and a number of photographs taken with different colour filters in turn over the lens.  This was followed by careful processing to make each plate only one colour.  There would have to be no movement of the subject between the various exposures. A garden scene on a calm day appears to have fitted the bill.

This discovery led to a search of the museum’s image database to discover that Horace Charles Messer (1866-26th September 1936) started his photographic studio around 1897 at 29 Castle Street in Salisbury.  Mr Messer was very much involved in the development of colour photography.

In 1910 the British Journal of Photography mentions Autochrome photographs of the lilacs of the funeral wreath of King Edward VII: 

“The Salisbury Wreath to King Edward: We have already mentioned that Mr HC Messer of Castle Street took a photograph in colours by the Autochrome process of the beautiful wreath which was sent from Salisbury to the funeral of King Edward VII at Windsor.  Mr Messer sent a copy of the picture to King George and has received the following acknowledgement: Buckingham Palace, The Private Secretary is commanded by the King to thank Mr HC Messer for his letter of the 25th and for the photograph of the wreath.” 

Mr Messer won prizes for his photography throughout the country.

Mr Lovibond, around this time, was experimenting with coloured glass which resulted in him setting up the international company Tintometers. For many years colour measurement equipment, for use throughout the world, was  manufactured in Salisbury by Tintometers.  An interesting thought is, did Mr Lovibond know Mr Messer?  

More to come from Alan in the coming weeks….



A quick search for a photograph of 29 Castle Street (see previous blog) turned up this view which could relate to the period when Mr Messer had his shop there. It is, however, labelled as a photo of a brewery and it certainly looks like that, judging from the barrels parked outside!

Photo from The Salisbury Museum collection

This later photograph clearly shows Woolley and Wallis in possession and information attached is that all that we see here was demolished to make way for Tesco Express.

If anyone can add anything, please contact us via the comment button on this page.


This seems appropriate for April Fool’s Day…. Mary writes…

POT QUIZ Archaeologists are always digging up bits of pot. Can you dig up the one-word answer to these clues? They all begin with ‘pot’.

  1. Drinkable
  2. You might drink a magic one of these
  3. Illicit potato spirit
  4. An old measure of half a gallon
  5. A powerful leader or monarch
  6. A collection of dried scented petals
  7. Any thick soup
  8. The garden valerian
  9. A region of Staffordshire
  10. Of, or relating to, rivers
  11. Formerly, a person employed in a pub to serve beer
  12. A South American plant cultivated for its edible tubers
  13. Take whatever is available
  14. Heraldic term for having bars across the arms of a cross
  15. A light silvery metal element
  16. A Maori word for ‘hat’
  17. To busy oneself in a desultory but agreeable manner
  18. An American Indian ceremony involving the lavish distribution of gifts
  19. Aussi slang for an inferior quality opal
  20. An artistic work of little merit produced quickly to make money

You thought they were easy until you reached the last few! No cheating…. Answers next week.

Thanks Mary!

Parked for the Duration…


This is Bournemouth Airport, 27 March 2020, photographed by the local police helicopter.

There are around fifty British Airways aircraft parked there, temporarily redundant.

This blog will be trying to continue, over the next few weeks or months, to record events related to C19, as well as our usual mix of museum news, local history, and your contributions. Please join in.

The Moment Salisbury ‘lost’ Florence Nightingale


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Salisbury Infirmary c 1914 – 1918

Cecil Woodham Smith, when writing perhaps the biography of Florence Nightingale in the 1940s, had access to papers that earlier biographers had not – particularly Florence’s own prolific diaries and notes. Those notes are a reminder that special people are also often rather complicated.

As a child she felt herself to be ‘different’ and certainly her mother found her so. Her biographer used the words “strange, passionate, wrong-headed, obstinate and miserable…” to describe Florence. She later wrote of herself that she was afraid she was a monster, a secret that might at any moment be discovered, that if she ate at the table with guests she might suddenly do something strange with her knife and fork! At the age of six she was already recording that life at home, Embley Park, near Romsey, was horrid. She didn’t fit in, and the ‘voice’ which had told her in 1837, when she was a teenager, that she had a mission in life, haunted her, because she couldn’t work out what it was she was supposed to do.

The 1840s were difficult times in Britain, with the agricultural and industrial revolutions disrupting traditional patterns of life, and with sweated labour, disease, poverty, and appalling living conditions in many urban and rural areas.  Florence discovered she had a ‘knack’ with children, and found that visiting and helping the poor and sick was not just something she could do, but something she did well. Now she knew…

Embley Park, near Romsey, now a school

In her mid twenties, she decided to ask her parents to allow her to go for three months to Salisbury Infirmary to learn nursing. The head physician, Dr Fowler, was an old friend, he held advanced views, it was a well-known hospital and when the Fowlers visited in 1825, Florence took her chance. She later wrote in a letter to her cousin “Mama was terrified…it was not the physically revolting parts of the hospital but things about surgeons and nurses which you may guess.” To be fair to her mother, hospitals were often not very respectable places. Her father bemoaned “the modern girl”. The Fowlers were embarrassed by all the fuss, went away and the chance was gone.

More to come…

Fisherton Street apartments today, once Salisbury Infirmary

The Hero of Nursing Who Almost Has a Connection with Salisbury

If her parents had let her have her way from the beginning, Florence Nightingale would have become Salisbury’s most celebrated ‘daughter’. As it is, East Wellow and Wilton will claim her, along with St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

Regarded as the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale was born, in Florence, Italy, on 12 May 1820 – two hundred years ago this year. And yes, was named after her birthplace. Her parents, from Embley Park (now a school) at East Wellow near Romsey, were on a ‘ Grand Tour’ when she was born. Her sister, Frances Parthenope, was born a year earlier when the Nightingales were in Naples. Parthenope was a Greek name for that city.

As early as 1845, Florence was pestering her parents to allow her to become a nurse at Salisbury Infirmary. In 1837 she had, she said later, a visitation from God which convinced her that something like this was to be her vocation. She was right, as we now know, but nursing then was not a profession, nurses mostly being of the ‘lower classes’ and useful for little more than removing the bodies from the wards.

Equality for women, it seems, is still an issue, particularly in the workplace. But in 1845, Florence could not easily have a career at all and certainly not without her father’s backing. He was sympathetic (her mother was not),  but in the end her support came from another man – Sidney Herbert of Wilton House.

Florence became a celebrity in Victorian Britain, enough to rival any today, and mercilessly used her fame to campaign for reforms in nursing and in the conditions for the army.

She has fallen out of fashion now but deserves a revival. More about Florence in the coming weeks….

Embley Park (from the school website)