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Mary Crane was amongst the forty or fifty Volunteers who enjoyed the Volunteers Briefing this afternoon. She writes…

At the Tuesday afternoon Volunteers Coffee/Tea Briefing, Sue Allenby gave a presentation on the Fawcett family cape which is held in the museum’s costume collection.

The collection holds items of clothing from the early 18th century, given to the museum by the people of Salisbury. Among these items is a beautiful purple wool cape with cream silk Madras work embroidery and a silk fringe. The cape is dated 1868 and it was given by a Mrs Fawcett in 1934. The only other detail on its card is an address: 31 Clarendon Road.

Having done a lot of research, Sue has concluded that the most likely owner of the cape in 1868 was Millicent Fawcett (nee Garrett 1847 – 1929) who married Henry Fawcett (MP for Brighton, statue in Market Square) in 1867. Millicent was then 20 years old and  a member of the Suffragist Movement (the peaceful, lawful fighters for Women’s Suffrage). It  seemed a good match as Henry seconded the Bill for Women’s Suffrage in Parliament.

The Mrs Fawcett who donated the cape would seem to be Millicent’s niece, Charlotte, who lived at 31 Clarendon Road, Salisbury.

Before her marriage, Charlotte and her sister Catherine belonged to the Lovibond family, local brewers who lived at Lake House. Catherine was the founder of Stonehenge Woollens Ltd (whose blue plaque can be seen just outside High Street Gate).

As Sue said, it is important for our local history to put real Salisbury people into the clothes.

Volunteer Sue Allenby was interviewed by Radio Wiltshire about the Fawcett family cape that we have in the collection. This was part of a series of programmes on radio Wiltshire to make the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. People can still listen to the interview on iPlayer. It is on Radio Wiltshire and was aired on Monday 5 February at around 10.10-10.13am as part of the Marie Lennon programme entitled ‘Young Victims of Stroke’.



What is an NPO??


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See end for details*

On Wednesday 31 January Kristina Broughton (Partnership Manager) came to Salisbury Museum to give a talk to staff and volunteers about our new NPO status -read on, and all will be revealed!

The Wessex Museums Partnership (Salisbury Museum; Poole Museums Service; Dorset County Museum; and Wiltshire Museum) will become one of the Arts Council’s regularly funded National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) from April 2018 to March 2022, and work is already underway across the partnership. The partnership has been awarded £1.278m to cover a 4-year programme of work.

There are 831 NPO’s across the country; and 103 NPO’s in the south west. NPO’s can cover music, dance, art, theatre, literature, combined arts, museums and libraries.

There are six strands to the NPO Business Plan that the Wessex Museums Partnership has just submitted and these relate to collections development; interpretation and display; programming; audience development; children and young people; and perhaps most important of all – resilience and sustainability.

Another aspect that the partnership is going to examine is its environmental performance – this will be audited across the partner venues and more sustainable working practices employed where possible.

The Wessex Museums Partnership will have its own website, and Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts. In order to carry out the work outlined above a number of new staffing posts are to be created at the four partner museums.

I am sure that you will all agree that this is a very exciting time for the Wessex Museums Partnership. The programme of work outlined is hugely ambitious but will allow each partner venue to develop further and attract new audiences and stakeholders. It will inspire more people to explore and enjoy the outstanding art and heritage of the region and to understand its significance to their lives.


*This Crown Dorset Art Pottery (see photo at top of blog), on loan from the Poole Museums Service, is the latest of our ‘Spotlight Loans’ – all part of our membership of the Wessex Museums Partnership. We see (from left to right) a Bent Lip Vase 1913, small top hat pot c1910, a two handled vase 1912 and a pot pourri holder 1911.

Did you know that if you hold Salisbury Museum Membership, you have free entry to our fellow Wessex Museums Partnership museums?

The Fawcett Family Cape


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If you can make it for 2pm today you will be able to hear Sue Allenby’s talk on this fabulous item from our costume collection (see blog ‘Join Us’ below):

This beautiful cape was possibly the property of Suffragist Millicent Fawcett

It is a Volunteers’ coffee afternoon (for a change!) and includes a talk from Adrian Green, Director…as well as coffee…and cake.

Join Us



220px-Millicent_FawcettDame Millicent Fawcett

On Tuesday 20th February at 2pm or Thursday 10.30am for coffee, conversation, cake and, on Tuesday at least…to hear about capes.

It is the 100th anniversary of the The Representation of the People Act of 1918 which granted the vote to women over the age of 30 who met a property qualification and which gave the vote to all men over the age of 21

We are also celebrating it as the 100th anniversary of the Suffragettes. In the museum collection we have an item described as the Fawcett Family Cape. Sue Allenby will do a short ‘Object in Focus’ presentation on Tuesday about it.

Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett GBE (Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire) was a British feminist, intellectual, political and union leader, and writer. She is primarily known for her work as a campaigner for women to have the vote.  The cape may not have been hers….hear more from Sue on Tuesday.

Also speaking on both dates is our own Director Adrian Green on The Salisbury Museum for Future Generations.




snowcard Photo by English Heritage

For us, this has to be one of the more eye-catching headlines! Who isn’t a fan of this endlessly fascinating place?

Archaeologist Julian Richards has a new book out (‘Stonehenge:The story so far’ and no, this isn’t a ‘plug’  – your blogger hasn’t read it yet!) and, in the process, is giving a series of talks in the area. It is worth catching one of those if you have the chance…


The famous 17th century architect Inigo Jones (the new St Paul’s Cathedral) attributed it to the Romans, who, interestingly, didn’t apparently mention it in their writings about Britannia.

The antiquary John Aubrey surveyed Stonehenge in the late 17th century, and was the first to record the Aubrey Holes (hence their name). His studies of stone circles in other parts of Britain led him to conclude that they were built by the native inhabitants, rather than Romans. As the Druids were the only prehistoric British priests mentioned in the classical texts, he attributed Stonehenge to the Druids.

Aubrey’s idea was expanded by the 18th-century antiquary William Stukeley, who surveyed Stonehenge and was the first to record the Avenue and the nearby Cursus. Among Stukeley’s theories about Stonehenge, he too thought it was a Druid monument.

Serious excavation took place in 1901 when there was concern about the stability of the stones and Professor William Gowland was called in to help. His digging led him to suggest a late Neolithic or early Bronze Age date for Stonehenge. A further programme of restoration and excavation, led by Lieutenant-Colonel William Hawley, was carried out between 1919 and 1926. So far, so good.

The story of Stonehenge in the 20th and 21st centuries, however, might be described as one of quiet controversy. The latest theory (forget temple, sacrifices, Druids, place to observe constellations, large house, even aliens…) is that Stonehenge is where it is because of the apparently glacial striations that appear in the ground below the current layer of grass which, because they coincidentally line up with the winter solstice, made the place special to early peoples. It is also possible that the Heel Stone was a natural feature and that the whole structure was then (eventually) erected as a result of all of this. Julian Richards would be the last to say this is the final answer however. One of the joys of hearing him speak is how careful he is to relate everything to the evidence. And sometimes, of course, there isn’t a lot of evidence.

Archaeology suggests that the site began as a ditch c  3 000BC. But there are disagreements over the exact date. The 56 Aubrey holes held timbers. Or did they? Some archaeologists say stones. The Blue Stones came from Wales after c 2 500BC. Probably. The latest thought is that they came all the way around the coast and up the Avon but this sort of theory is based only on what seems most likely. The Sarsens came from the Marlborough Downs, although Julian points out that the excavation pits, which ought to show up where huge stones were quarried from the ground, have never been identified.

There has been a great deal of experiment to try and work out how the stones were moved, and erected. Julian says that he managed to save the 40 ton concrete blocks used for a TV programme for further experimentation. A friendly farmer has them in a barn.

The recent discovery of pre-historic houses in the vicinity of Durrington which suggest huge numbers of labourers in that area (and the houses definitely date from the period of main construction) are very important but to use these as a way of assessing the number of workmen on site at any one time is tricky. Archaeology uses dates that cover hundreds of years. Were all the houses in use at one time? Or are there a couple of hundred years when there was no-one there at all?  Burials and cremations in the area don’t necessarily fit with any known activity and there are, apparently, periods of history in Britain when we appear to have no burials at all! A lot still does not make sense. Julian kept coming back to what the evidence tells us. And what we have no evidence for…

Julian’s answer to questions about the purpose of Stonehenge echoed that of Francis Pryor speaking at Salisbury Museum a few months ago – that is like asking what  Salisbury Cathedral is for. It depends who you are and what you seek, how you feel about it, where you are in your life, and the fashion and mood and mores of the age in which you live.

And the research and argument goes on. “My book is already out of date” Julian says. There’s an honest man.



Interesting Find!



A tweet from our own Richard Henry (Finds Liaison Officer, Wiltshire) regarding an interesting recent find…

It’s a Great Story


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She had wondered, for years, what was the strange creature carved into the woodwork of her 17th century cottage.



Endless research and requests to experts had revealed nothing. Then, a chance visit to the Five Rivers Leisure Centre set her on her way to the answer.

It was there that she saw this:


City Story: Historic Past, Creative Future was a museum HLF funded project led by our own Katy England, with young people taking part in afterschool clubs, Saturday workshops for young carers and sessions for schools and colleges at the museum.

The 11 – 18 year olds had been working with inspiring local artists to explore the extraordinary objects in the museum’s Salisbury History and Costume collections.

A young man involved with the project had chosen the museum figure of the Harpy for his inspiration and produced the remarkable image we see above.

The lady spotted the print and knew immediately it was her strange creature. She sent this email to the museum:

I recently visited the Leisure Centre in Salisbury and noticed a picture in the reception area which is part of the City Art Project run by Salisbury Museum.  I live in a listed cottage in Tisbury (circa 1620) and have a figure on an old door which is exactly like one of the figures in one of the pieces of work in the leisure centre.  I have tried for years to identify this figure and all sorts of experts (including the listed buildings team, experts on historic buildings, experts from Devizes, local historians, internet searches etc) have failed to recognise it, saying that they have never seen anything like it before.  I hope I have attached a picture of my figure which is only a few centimetres in height and is pinned onto an ancient door.  The picture in the leisure centre is an exact replica and looks like some sort of lino print – bright yellow.

Can you help me find what the artist’s source of inspiration was?  I presume that it is some object in the museum.   Brigid Budd

The mystery was  solved! Katy replied with this email:

I have some information for you on the artefact in the museum that closely resembles the figure on your cottage door.

It was originally thought to be a representation of St Michael, but when Brian Spencer (the expert who wrote up The Salisbury Museum catalogue) examined the object in 1986 he identified it as the following:

“Decorative pin or badge in the form of a grotesque, probably derived from the harpy, a mythological monster with the head and breast of a woman and the wings and claws of a bird of prey. Though the harpy was often associated with evil, it was used in heraldry as a form of decoration. Combination of brass pin and lead alloy ornament seems to have been a 16th century practice (Brian Spencer, 1986).”

I have mentioned your story to Peter Saunders (the previous director of The Salisbury Museum and an expert in the Salisbury History collection) and Peter has suggested that if the image was attached to a door, it may have been put there as a talisman to ward off evil trying to enter. Also, it fits the date of your cottage!


Katy arranged for the lady to have a framed print of the Harpy and, in return, the museum received a generous donation and Katy enjoyed the gift of a most delicious carrot cake!

Katy and the museum have been successful in a further bid, this time from the Esme Fairbairn Collections Fund, for further work with young people. See https://www.museumsassociation.org/news/05122017-esmee-fairbairn-collections-fund-successful-applicants for details.

Brian Graham Has Moved In!


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Our Exhibitions Officer, Joyce Paeson, is leaving us (see her letter below) but she has left us with a tempting taste of what is coming up at the museum…

Terry Pratchett has left the building and Brian Graham has moved in. But Terry went out with a bang:

Pratchettend 1

The new exhibition has been quite a change of scene for the museum! Luckily I have had the help of a wonderful team of volunteers to help me de-install, paint the rooms and set up the new exhibition. Below you can see them in action!

Pratchettend 2

Sue Martin and Sophia Sample helping me to set up the Brian Graham exhibition

Brian Graham: Towards Music (27/01/2018 – 12/05/2018). This exhibition represents a unique interpretation of the evolution of music and dance. By creating a series of 40 painted reliefs, Brian takes us on a visual journey, exploring how he imagines the beginnings of music-making and dance. This body of work also reflects his research in fields beyond art and encompasses science, archaeology and anthropology. Each of the works is dedicated to a piece of music, a composer or a significant figure from the world of music and dance. The results are stunning and eloquent works, which inspire us to think about our ancestors living long ago, and how they communicated through sound and movement and the ultimate joy of this.

There is a list of music available on Spotify to listen to. Just type in Brian Graham. It is a selection of Brian’s favourites.

The exhibition ends on the 12th of May. After that we welcome Henry Lamb: Out of the Shadows (26/05/2018 – 30/09/2018).

This will be the first major retrospective on the artist since the exhibition at the Manchester City Art Galleries in 1984. The Exhibition is co-curated by Harry Moore-Gwyn, an independent curator, dealer and writer on modern British art, whose previous shows have included Kenneth Rowntree (Pallant House Gallery, Chichester and Fry Art Gallery, Saffron Walden), Laurie Lee (Royal Geographical Society) and Walter Bonner Gash (Alfred East Gallery, Kettering). This exhibition is a partnership between Salisbury Museum and Poole Museums through the Wessex Museums Partnership.

Henry Lamb (Adelaide 21 June 1883 – Salisbury 8 October 1960) was one of the leading British figurative painters of the first part of the twentieth century. A close associate of Augustus John, patron of Stanley Spencer and friends with members of the Bloomsbury Group he was also a founder member of the Camden Town Group in 1911. He was a very accomplished musician and trained as a doctor, friends describing him as a well read, erudite conversationalist. He became a trustee of the National Portrait Gallery (1942) and the Tate Gallery (1944). He became an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1940 and a full Academician in 1949.

Portraiture played an important role in his career as a painter, but his townscapes and landscapes as well as his early subject pictures of Ireland and Brittany and his work in both World Wars reveal him to be a painter of considerable range and talent. This show will give a full retrospective of his work.

Pratchettend 3

Gola Island, 1913, Private Collection

The last major exhibition of 2018 will be a touring exhibition from the British Museum on hoards. We are currently working together with the British Museum on the object list. The partners will be:

Ulster Museum, NMNI, 18 Jan – 31 Mar 2019

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, 13 Apr – 16 Jun 2019

Brading Roman Villa, 28/29 Jul – 28 Sep 2019

Hull and East Riding Museum, Oct – Dec 2019

Salisbury Museum will be the first venue!

Returning Home


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4M5A5380 Joyce

Joy and some of her helpers

Our Exhibitions Officer is returning home…

My last day at the office and before I leave for new pastures, I wanted to write to you all. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here at the museum. Over the years, I have been part of creating some wonderful exhibitions (British Art: Ancient Landscapes, John Craxton: A Poetic Eye, John Hinchcliffe) and met some lovely and interesting people. I will be sad not to see Henry Lamb: Out of the Shadows going up in our gallery but I will definitely will come and see it when it is finished!

A special thanks to Christine Mason, David Chilton and Bob Hambling for always helping me with painting and setting up the exhibition.

My new job will be as Heritage Coordinator for the Lower Campine Region in Belgium. It is for an organisation that helps city councils with heritage related issues and questions. A bit like English Heritage but Belgian Heritage. One of my first projects will be around Celtic Field systems and opening them to the public. This is very exciting as I did a lot of research on prehistoric field systems and did my dissertation on Celtic Field systems in particular.

It will be nice to live closer to my family but I will miss the UK and all my friends. It has become my second home.

I wish the museum all the best of luck for the exciting future coming up.

All best, Joy

Very best wishes Joy.  You will be missed.