Trips to the Tate

More news from our Aspire trainee Nicola…


Over the past few weeks I have been fortunate enough to have been given the opportunity to visit Tate Britain not once, but twice!

The first of my trips was a shadowing day as part of my traineeship. I found the day absolutely fascinating – being able to chat to curators and members of staff gave me such an insight into how a national museum functions. The work that goes on behind the scenes at Tate is incredible; it was really interesting to see how some aspects of what they do differs hugely from ourselves, while other portions are very similar. A big thank you to Gracie and all at Tate for giving up your time to talk to me and make me feel so welcome!

My second trip came a week later, and this time I was not alone! Jan (our retail manager), alongside those from Aspire and Tate, managed to organise a “Tate Road Trip” for the Constable in Context exhibition volunteers. Therefore last Wednesday, 35 of us hopped on a coach at 8am and headed to London. It was a really great day, with an opportunity to visit Tate’s Constable Room, speak to Tate guides, and access the Prints and Drawings Study Room to see further Constable work. With a delicious lunch and free time to wander the many exhibitions in Tate, it was a great opportunity for everyone to mingle with those they wouldn’t normally see during a shift at Salisbury Museum. Even the four and a half hour coach ride home couldn’t dampen our spirits too greatly after such a wonderful day.

Nicola (Aspire Trainee)


HAY BALE TOSSING by Volunteer Alan Clarke

More from the museum’s Salisbury Journal photographic archive, together with Alan’s wonderful commentary…..


If you go this web link

you can watch a video of Michael O’Brien tossing a sheaf of hay over 63 feet high to obtain the Guinness world record.

Hay bale tossing, sheaf tossing?  I’m not sure of the correct name, but toss rather than throw.  Toss is height, throw is length along the ground.  The Salisbury Museum photograph, here, is of such a tossing competition, taking place locally.  I think somewhere around Harnham.  The photograph was scanned from a glass plate negative made by Wilfred Chaplin, probably before 1950.  Note, no TV aerials on the chimneys, the style of clothes and other clues.   I like the ingenious construction using guide ropes to keep the two poles vertical, and a rope and pulley system for changing the bar height.  I don’t know if the bale had to be weighed each time before it was tossed.  There are several bales on the ground (far left) waiting and ready, probably pre-weighed.   The spectators are at the far right watching something else taking place.  Was the tosser, in this photograph still wearing his hat, practising or maybe performing for the camera?  He does appear to have taken his jacket off but I can’t see where he has put it.  Maybe there were a number of rural sports taking place on this field.  There are three lads with at least one bicycle, sitting over against the embankment, a possible flood defence?  There is a notice attached to one of the vertical poles but unfortunately it is just too indistinct for me to read.  Could it say 1¾d a throw?   I suspect that the lad in short trousers, standing with his hands behind his back, is the official observer watching to see if the bale goes over the bar.  How many photographs did Wilfred take before he succeeded with this one, with the bale high in the air?

I have never witnessed such a tossing competition.  I suspect that an eight pound weight bale of hay, plummeting groundward from 40 feet or more, might not fit in with today’s local safety standards!

If anyone has witnessed such a tossing competiton locally, I would love to know the details.

Alan Clarke

December Delights


Under Five’s Friday: It’s Christmas!

Friday, 09 December 2016

Festive, arty fun for little ones! Come and join the fun with artist Suzie Gutteridge. Suitable for 2-5 year olds. Babies welcome.


By George, it’s Christmas!

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Join us for a Christmas celebration with a distinctly Georgian flavour in honour of a very famous Georgian – John Constable.


Constable Walks: Step into ‘Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows, 1831’

Saturday, 26 November 2016 to Saturday, 25 March 2017

Saturdays 26 November 2016, 25 February and 25 March 2017

Go here for further details….

Off To The Tate


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The Salisbury Museum engagement volunteers have been invited to join a group visit to the Clore Studio,Tate Britain, London, as part of the Aspire programme which brought John Constable’s epic Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows to the Museum. Their visit, on Wednesday 30 November, will include a talk, a visit to the Prints and Drawings Study Room and the Constable Room, as well as a guided Walk through British Art.

We wish them well, safe return, and look forward to hearing all about it next week. tate-britain-1536


Adieu, au revoir, Jane



Jane Ellis-Schön, Project Curator of the Finding Pitt-Rivers Project at The Salisbury Museum, and our friend, is leaving the Museum this week after many years working behind the scenes. She moves on, for the time being at least, to arguably more challenging, interesting and enjoyable things – the baby is due in the new year.

Jane has fulfilled a number of roles here, and the latest one has involved over thirty volunteers who have had the pleasure of working with her, and the Pitt-Rivers archives, over the last few years. Those of us not involved have sometimes been rather envious!

The group of volunteers will be continuing to work on the project until February when the funding ends. Thank you to them, and to all the volunteers who have contributed. Most especially, thank you Jane. Our very best wishes go with you. Not “goodbye” we hope, but “adieu, au revoir”.

An Artistic Life


Sarah Brumfitt, one of our NADFAS (National Federation of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies) volunteers who works on the museums’ costume collection, provided a real treat recently when she agreed to bring in some of her own work for us to see. Like so many of our volunteers, Sarah has a fascinating background, bringing with her, when she works at the Museum, huge experience, great skills, and, in her case, a wonderful artistic talent.

“I was born in an air-raid, in London” she tells us. Having survived that, she went on to study at, amongst other places, Hammersmith Art College and the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.  In 1964 she ended up at the Sheffield Playhouse (now the Crucible Theatre) as a costume designer. She remembers  “lots of big plays” but especially ‘Oedipus’, and Alan Cullen’s ‘Ring o’ Roses’ about the Eyam plague tragedy. Sarah noted that this latter story possibly had Salisbury connections in that the vicar of Eyam, famous for persuading his fellow villagers  to agree to cut themselves off from the rest of the countryside when they knew that the plague infection was amongst them, was a Mompesson.


Sarah went on to work as a freelance properties and mask designer/maker, at places like the Royal Opera House, with the Scottish Ballet, and the Welsh Opera and the Royal Shakespeare Company. She worked with Tanya Moiseiwitsch, famous theatre designer, and with director Colin George (who died earlier this year). When asked how she would decide what a mask should look like (“Where do you start?”) Sarah explained that the director would say he/she wanted to do the play in this or that way and Sarah’s job was then to interpret this.



Needless to say, Sarah works with our costume archive. We look forward to hearing more from Sarah at a later date.

EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY by Volunteer Alan Clarke



Alan Clarke is the Museum’s volunteer expert on its Salisbury Journal photographic archive.

People often say to me that family portraits would be of no interest.  Here is a portrait of a gentleman, and the only other information I have on the negative envelope is possibly the hand written word “Lemon”.  However this portrait is full of interest.


There is a book which says Solicitors’ Diary 1957.  The calendar on the wall has the March monthly picture of a high court judge.  March 1st is shown as a Monday thus I suspect that the year is 1965.  So I assume that the gentleman was a solicitor and the vast array of books are legal ones.  I can make out ‘Law’ on the bindings of same.  Some rows of books appear to be several volumes per year going back to 1911.  Some other volumes are the history of England and of Rome.  There is an official Wilts & Dorset bus timetable.  Noting the busts on shelves as well, would imply a classical education.  There is a coal bucket with a poker and a few logs, to start a fire, however a simple electric fire by his left side is far easier.  There is a hearth brush as coal fires are very messy, especially when removing the ashes.  There are two bell pushes on his left near the coal fire.  What were these for?  Note, not on his desk.  Similarly the black telephone does not appear to be on his desk.  Will this object be recognised as a telephone in 50 years time?  The smaller photograph on the bookshelf to his right appears to be a graduation ceremony; his graduation or maybe a son? He has a well worn leather chair to go with his desk.  I don’t recognise the portraits crammed on the remaining wall space.  No country scenes, only portraits; ancestors?  Papers pinned to the wall to his left with a drawing pin implies to me that he doesn’t have a wife tidying up after him.  His room has a very high ceiling, so an old building.

Some Google research has come up with:

Lemon Line & Felton were a firm of solicitors based in Salisbury. Tel:  01722 412369.  Address: Lemon Line, 86 Crane Street, Salisbury, SP1 2QE

The address for Lemon Line & Felton now appears to be Richard Griffiths & Co (Solicitors).

Richard Griffiths took over the building from Lemon Line and Feltham, who went out of business.  Their website was

Many of my assumptions above might be wrong but I don’t think you would say the photograph is not of interest.  Maybe you can deduce more and correct some of mine.

Alan Clarke

This wonderful forensic analysis should inspire us all to go back over our family photos…What better activity for Boxing Day!?

I VOLUNTEER IN ADVANCE! by Volunteer Mary Crane


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Photo by Ash Mills

On the evening of Wednesday 16th November the Museum hosted the Elizabeth House Social Club members, a club for adults with disabilities.

I was one of several volunteers there to guide people around and be generally welcoming and chatty! This was the second year this event has been held and people had clearly looked forward to coming , some hoping  fish pie was on the menu again (it was, and very popular) and, in one case, delighted to re-acquaint herself with the bustards! Naturally food came first, the cafe coming up trumps as always, with lots of second helpings asked for and provided.

Afterwards we looked round the Constable exhibition (“Is it our Cathedral? That one out there?”).  I escorted two ladies who wanted to see Dr Neighbour’s surgery, and also to put some distance between themselves and a very loud ( but very good) duo of trumpet and guitar. One lady turned out to be a great fan of Time Team and her friend was awfully fond of Julian Richards! Both knew an incredible amount about Old Sarum and Stonehenge and prowled happily round the Wessex Gallery. Eventually everyone ended up in the Wessex Gallery listening to the duo. For me the highlight of the evening came right at the end when R, a gentleman I used to work with and have known for years, sang ‘ Hallelujah ‘ with the guitarist.  It was such a joyous evening. Thanks to all the Museum staff. Please do it again next year. I volunteer in advance!

Done With Meraki by work experience student Rose Brennan




I’m Rose Brennan, a 14 year old student from Herefordshire. “Herefordshire? Wow, what a long way!” was a phrase that I heard nearly every day, although I never tired of it.  In fact, it caused a rather funny coincidence – the ‘Salisbury from the Meadows’ artwork by Constable was visiting, and had just been to Wales, which is remarkably close to my small town.

Anyway – I’m only at high school, and I’ve just started my GCSEs (yay… how fun).  I’m studying history (what a shock), geography, computer science and French.  It was my intention to come here for my work experience, and I was overjoyed when the e-mail came through from Bridget, saying that I was able to come.  I’ve been staying with my amazing Gran all week, and I’m quite surprised that she has managed to put up with my endless jabbering about history and Star Wars and what I’ve done that day.

I think the things that I remember the most are helping out with the children, and the apparently boring job (I found it interesting, actually) of alphabetically ordering a drawer of a filing cabinet.  I’m actually smiling as I remember the last school group we had in – we did a little drama at the end, and one of the children (only year 4) had to pretend to be dead.  Owain asked him how he felt.  There was around 5 seconds of silence before the kid said “I’m feeling dead”.  That made me chuckle quite a bit.

Now, we should talk about the staff.

Meraki – it’s one of those words that somehow got lost in translation.  It loosely means “to do something with devotion and love”.

It’s a beautiful word that I feel encompasses the atmosphere of all of the staff and volunteers who walk the corridors of the museum daily.  In everything that they do, you can see the passion for their job and the complete attention that they give it.  Although some of the tasks are hard, or maybe even deemed boring, they just get on with it, with seemingly endless patience.

So, yes, you could say that they have won my admiration.  To all those who have worked with me – Owain, Nicola, Joyce, Bridget, Valerie, Val, the costume volunteers – I thank each and every one of you.  But I cannot leave out everyone who has been so so kind to me – even if it’s just saying hello or opening the rope for me, asking what I was doing that day or offering to sign me out – it just made me feel included.  I felt here as if I was being treated like I wasn’t some nerdy teenager who’s awful at maths and has no common sense – I felt like someone who had a good amount of responsibility, whom others were trusting with work.  And the kids… wow, the kids.  Such fresh and intelligent minds, who seemed shocked at my knowledge of Pokemon, and who treated me as if I was an adult or one of their helpers.

I can’t think of a better place to have done my work experience.  No one brushes you off, they listen avidly to any questions and answer them to the best of their abilities.  If anyone is questioning work experience, and this is one of the shortlisted places… I do not know what you are waiting for!

Thank you again to everybody here, you all make this Museum the special and beautiful place it is.

Rose Brennan

Thank you Rose. We will miss you…

Finding it Interesting… by student Grace Clark



My name is Grace Clark and since September I have been conducting part of my forty week placement at Salisbury Museum with the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS). I am currently a Bournemouth University undergraduate student, but very much enjoying my time at the Museum, and definitely noticing the benefits for working under the PAS.

I am working at the Museum until April 2017, and in my first two months being here, I have already learnt a number of interesting, and beneficial skills (under the supervision of Richard Henry, the Finds Liaison Officer, and Cristina Sanna, PAS intern). My role is to record finds that are made and reported to the scheme by metal detectorists in Wiltshire. Further tasks include photographing objects and ‘photo shopping’ them so that they can be recorded on the British Museum site.

So far I have recorded 161 finds, and to celebrate my 100th recording, a picture was posted on the Museum’s social media pages.


This find was a decade (ten bead) rosary ring, dating to between the 16th and 17th centuries AD.  It may have been used secretly by a Roman Catholic of the period who had to hide his religion but who, nevertheless wished to say his prayers in the way he had been taught. Rosaries like these are used by either rotating the ring or just holding the bead between a finger and thumb while praying.

As I am here for a few month, Richard has plans for me to contribute further work in projects, and education. I am also lined up to do some exhibition work with Joyce in the New Year, all of which I am very excited to do! From this, I can strongly say that working for the PAS is a fantastic opportunity, and I very much look forward to learning more beneficial skills to help me pursue my career, all of which will be mentioned in my next entry!