Emily Smith “I Began 2019…”

I began 2019 by installing the Creative Wiltshire: A Celebration of Art exhibition at Salisbury museum. As the pictures below will show it was a very transformative experience. We began work on the Sunday, making the most of the time when the museum was shut to the public. Firstly, we took down all of the portraits which had been on display, and then with quite a few helping hands we set about painting the space.

The painting for this exhibition was one of the crucial elements. This is because I chose to paint two brightly coloured feature walls, one in pink and the other in a deep teal. As the exhibition is about celebrating creativity in Wiltshire I wanted to show that museums can be creative too. I also thought it would be a great way of exciting interest in, and conversation about, the exhibition.

The painting took a few days but after some finishing touches we were ready to install the art. We began by hanging the paintings and photographic pieces on the walls. As we had quite a lot of pieces to hang, some of which were very large, this took two days and more helping hands to complete. By this point the space was beginning to come together. We then installed the objects, mostly ceramic and sculpture, which with a little bit of moving around, fitted into the space very well. I was then able to install the colour co-ordinated captions. Finally, the two wall panels were added, completing the space and look of the exhibition.

Overall, I am really pleased with how the exhibition has turned out. I think it highlights how versatile the space can be and shows you do not need to shy away from using bright colours, as when used correctly they can be effective. I hope the exhibition shows visitors the great creativity Wiltshire has to offer.

 The exhibition officially opens on Saturday 19 January and runs until 4 May 2019.


On loan

Megan Fowler tells us…..The Salisbury Museum has lent Stonehenge-related objects to an exhibition created by the artist Jeremy Deller. Wiltshire B4 Christ is based largely on Stonehenge, and the museum has lent objects such as tools used at Stonehenge and bones found from feasts. The exhibition is at Store X, 180 The Strand in London and runs from Wednesday 16 January until Sunday 27 January.

From their website:

Upcoming Exhibition
A collaborative project by Aries, Jeremy Deller & David Sims
In partnership with The Store X The Vinyl Factory

16 – 27 January 2019
Free Entry

Opening Hours
12pm – 7pm Daily

Conceived and produced by Aries in collaboration with British artists Jeremy Deller and David Sims, Wiltshire B4 Christ will take the form of an immersive exhibition, an art book, a limited-edition capsule collection and merchandise.

Shot at some of Britain’s key Neolithic sites including Stonehenge and Avebury, it engages with mysticism, pagan symbolism, and a particularly British exploration of identity, time and place.

 The exhibition features a new film by Deller, light boxes by David Sims, painted murals, and artefacts from the Salisbury Museum. The exhibition also features the capsule collection and merchandise. 

The exhibition will later tour to Milan in February, The Store X Berlin in March, before travelling to Tokyo and Florence.

Going and Coming


Two very busy ladies… Megan Fowler (Wessex Museums Collections Manager) and Emily Smith (Creative Wiltshire Exhibitions Assistant)

The hoards are going. If you missed our ‘Hoards: A Hidden History of Ancient Britain’ exhibition, you missed a gem (no pun intended!). It closed on 5 January and is now being dismantled with as much care, and security, as it was put up.

Megan Fowler and colleague emptying display cases

It will be replaced by our ‘The Origins of Photography in Salisbury 1839 – 1919’ exhibition opening on 19 January. A lot of work for Megan in the next ten days!

Also on its way, coming, is ‘Creative Wiltshire: A Celebration of Art in Wiltshire’ 19 January – 4 May 2019

It is eye-catching already! Emily has set the scene…

Alan Clarke in Print


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Our own Alan Clarke (Salisbury Museum Volunteer, archivist of our Photograph Collection) has a wonderful article (with accompanying photos, courtesy of Salisbury Museum) in the latest edition of Sarum Chronicle (Issue 18:2018). It is entitled Salisbury High Street 1853.

It nicely complements our new exhibition The Origins of Photography in Salisbury 1839 – 1919, open to the public 19 January to 4 May.

Alan says in his article “The thing I enjoy about old photographs is discovering the information hidden within them.” We know Alan, and always enjoy it when you share your discoveries with us!

Sarum Chronicle is on sale in the Museum shop at £8.95 and available to Volunteers at the usual discount.

WITCHCRAFT IN WESSEX by Volunteer Alan Crooks


The Drummer of Tedworth

In accord with Wessex Museum’s ‘Wicked Wessex’ season, consisting of objects on tour, of which, at Salisbury Museum we currently have a scold’s bridle and a Bellarmine witch bottle, found in Downton, I was intrigued recently to come across an illustration – ‘The Drummer of Tedworth’ by Joseph Glanville (Fig 1).

This was an exhibit in the ‘Spellbound’ exhibition at the Ashmolean exhibition, Oxford, and was the frontispiece to Glanvill’s book, Saducismus Triumphatus, which details the Mompesson family’s ordeal, recounted below. Here, the drummer appears as a zoomorphic devil in the sky above the home of Mr Mompesson, who stares incredulously.

My interest in attending this exhibition stems from my interest in Dr Simon Forman – ‘the notorious astrological physician of London. Forman was born in Quidhampton in 1552, eventually moving to London in 1589. During his time in Salisbury, he was involved in activities such as necromancy and geomancy, a Diary entry for 1588 reading, “This yere I began to practise necromancy and to calle aungells and spirits”. In his day, such activities would have been akin to witchcraft, however his punishments included no worse than 60 weeks imprisonment for bringing a book containing ‘bad and fond prayers and devises’(1) to morning prayer. In contrast, a near contemporary, a residential Canon of Salisbury Cathedral, Leonard Bilson, was pilloried at Cheapside in 1561 for practising magic and sorcery. Leonard Bilson lived in the canonry that preceded Arundell’s in The Close.

To return to ‘The Drummer of Tedworth’ illustration, this depicts a legend concerning poltergeist (2) activity affecting the family of John Mompesson J.P. of Tedworth (now called Tidworth) in March 1661. I had assumed that this haunting occurred in Tedworth House, perhaps the oldest property still surviving in Tidworth, but in fact it was Zouch Manor, which was owned by John Mompesson. This was a 17th Century manor house which is no longer standing, although it is thought that some of its stone may have been used to build the present day Zouch Manor and Tedworth House.

In the course of his magisterial duties, John Mompesson had brought before him one William Drury of Upcott, a former drummer in Cromwell’s army who had been making a local nuisance of himself in Ludgershall by beating a large drum in order to obtain alms, and for which he claimed to have a licence, but which turned out to be counterfeit.

Drury was found guilty and committed to Salisbury Gaol, the bailiff taking charge of the drum which he had sent to the Mompesson’s house while the latter was away in London. Immediately the nuisance began, with nocturnal drumming noises occurring both inside and outside the house, continuing until 1663. It was said that the children and servants were lifted up in their beds and let down unhurt, the chairs moved about and every loose thing in the children’s bedroom was flying about.

Mompesson was, of course, greatly disturbed by these occurrences and sent for Rev. Joseph Glanvill, Vicar of Frome, to conduct an investigation. Joseph Glanvill was a member of the newly-created Royal Society, thus making this one of the first hauntings to receive serious scientific scrutiny. Glanvill, although a believer in the spirit world, had considerable doubts as to the supernatural causation of these events, and suspected the children of tom-foolery. Glanvill stayed the night in the childrens’ room during which he heard “a strange scratching… and they [the children] could not contribute to the noise…]. He therefore concluded that the noise was indeed made by some daemon or spirit.

Drury was put on trial for witchcraft, but as he had been in prison (for theft) at the time of these disturbances, he was acquitted. He was, however, later tried a second time, and was sentenced to transportation. This sentence possibly reflected the judge’s own doubts, because the usual penalty for witchcraft was death by burning.

Later investigators also felt that the poltergeist activity had been created by the children perhaps aided and abetted by servants, or perhaps even imagined by Mrs Mompesson, who was pregnant. Interestingly, the poltergeist was said to have, very considerately, ceased its activity on the night Mrs Mompesson delivered her baby.

Notes and References

  1. The term ‘fond’ probably means foolish, and the ‘devises’ were unorthodox diagrams, suggesting that these were books of magic.
  2. ‘Poltergeist’ is a German term derived from ‘poltern’ meaning ‘noisy or rattling’ and ‘geist’ meaning ‘spirit’ and pertains to a type of ghost which throws things about and causes otherwise unexplained noises.

Volunteers’ Christmas Party


Nearly eighty Volunteers and several members of staff and Trustees enjoyed the museum Christmas party last month.

The highlight (in addition to the usual excellent mulled wine and very good raffle) was the appearance of Manor Fields Primary School choir. They performed a number of Christmas songs, some of which were new to the audience, led by a very lively and obviously talented teacher and accompanied by a number of assistants. ‘Disciplined’ and ‘professional’ are words which sometimes carry the wrong meaning these days, but these youngsters were both. And fun!

At one point the music stopped…..but the choir didn’t. Well done, and well done, also, the young pupil who gave us a solo.

Thank you to Bridget for organising it all, as usual, and to the staff who left their busy desks to join in, and to Susanna Denniston, the Chairman of the Trust, and other Trustees who also joined us.

Happy Christmas everyone!

Twenty Years Ago!!

As 2019 approaches you might be interested in these two photographs from our archives…taken in 1999.

Not the real Beatles of course! Tribute group, The Silver Beatles, are pretty persuasive as the Fab Four however.

Just to make you feel even older, the original group was formed almost sixty years ago, in 1960. “Love Me Do” came out in 1963 and was their first hit. They have become the best selling band in history with estimated sales of over 800 million records worldwide. They are the best selling musicians ever in the US.

The Silver Beatles have obviously been around for a while and are still active. Having ditched the 1960s suits, they are now looking more 1970s these days, appearing most recently in Portsmouth, where they are based.

More from James…

You may have read the blog contribution from James Fraser last month (27 November). We are publishing, below, some extracts from his own work diary.

“…today I have met with new people in the museum and I have got to know them and shake their hands and take photos of them in the part where they have been working. I have been independent like an adult…”

“We went to look at things made of clay, like pots and tiles.

I made a clay pot with coils. I went into the library and saw how to move the rolling shelves with a wheel.”

James remarked how he had been confident when meeting people in the staff room.

“We saw Adrian Green, the Director, who was giving out an interview to the BBC.”

A highlight seems to have been the crossbow! “We went to the Social History Store. I looked at a model of Stonehenge, an old clock, old pots…and a crossbow. I chose the crossbow because it needed packing carefully to protect it. I took the crossbow down to the workshop. I used tissue paper and foam and polywrap and I tied it up with tape and included its name and number.”

We have received a lovely letter from the family and include an extract here…

“…the balance between… expectations, and a supportive, encouraging environment was just what he (James)  needed to experience for the future. As parents we very much hope that some sort of museum would allow him to volunteer when he is older, and this has been the perfect start for the future.”

Thanks again James.