THE BELL INN BOWER CHALKE by Volunteer Alan Clarke



Bell Inn 1

Another fascinating series of photographs from our archives and some observations, from Alan Clarke…

The museum has a batch of negatives which are around 8 inches by 6 inches.  I have scanned and examined this batch of sixty, and in several there are posters advertising auctions, which all give the year as 1925.  Thus my assumption is that these 60 images were all taken in 1925.

Most images are of street scenes in Salisbury, and are faintly recorded as such on the negative wallets, in well faded ink.  One or two images are of places further afield.

Bell Inn 2 Bell Inn 1

There are two images of an Inn which is obviously called The Bell Inn.  What gives it away is the large bell on the top of an inn sign.  I recognised it as The Bell at Bowerchalke.

Bell Inn 3

Even if I hadn’t recognised which Bell Inn this was, close examination of the Bell shows the name BOWER CHALKE above it.  Is there a space between Bower and Chalk?  Can you see an ‘e’ on the end of Chalk?

Bell Inn 4 Bell Inn 4

A sign on the Inn wall states: “Sarah Habgood licensed to sell beer cider and tobacco”.  There is a shield below the bell with the words “Luncheons and teas”.  If you check, you will find that The Bell Inn, Bowerchalk, closed in 1988, and is now a residential dwelling known as ‘Bell House’.  However, I knew it for its luncheons and teas.  I used to call with friends whilst out cycling.  One of the attractions used to be that a mynah bird lived in the bar.  This bird was extremely loquacious.  I imagined that each evening the locals would be teaching this bird something new to repeat.

The photographer, apparently, wasn’t satisfied with his first photograph’s composition, and took a second from a slightly different viewpoint.  This makes it very interesting to compare what has changed, and decide if there were a few minutes or days between the images.

Bell Inn 5 Bell Inn 6

There is a fascinating belt-driven motorised bicycle against the front wall, identically parked in both images.  It appears to be equipped with a bulb horn and water bottles.  Along the side, round the back, there are chickens.  Even when I used to visit this establishment, there were chickens round the side here.  However, in one image there is a car, but it is possible that the other composition just misses capturing this car, being just out of the photo.  The image of the car is too indistinct for me to recognise what make it is.

Bell Inn 7

Just to the right of the car, one can see a lady feeding the chickens.  The other image makes it clear that there are two ladies here, and the object near them is a well, which one of the ladies is operating.  There appears to be a hatch (the dark square object resting against the right well head support) that has been opened to enable the well bucket to be drawn up.  You need a bonnet to feed the chickens but not to operate the well!

Many of the first floor windows are open.  There are extensive yew hedges which are kept well trimmed.

I leave you to explore and enjoy further.



Laughter Resonated Through the Building..



Volunteer Linda Robson (no, surely not that Linda Robson..?) has sent us this email:

You ask for contributions for the volunteer blog.  After the Pratchett exhibition, when laughter resonated through the building, I thought, how about a museum joke each time?Anyone can contribute. I confess I got this one off the internet, but great fun.


Visiting a modern art museum, a lady turned to an attendant standing nearby.

“This,” she said, “I suppose, is one of those hideous representations you call modern art?”

“No, Madam,” replied the attendant. “That one’s called a mirror.”


Well, how about it?

THE FINAL WEEK by Volunteer Alan Crooks


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HisWorld last day

The last day….

Well, the Terry Pratchett:HisWorld exhibition has, all too soon, come to an end, and the army of Gallery Staff will be wondering what to do with all the spare time that has suddenly been bestowed upon them.

“Gods don’t like people not doing much work. People who aren’t busy all the time might start to think”.

A wonderful cameradie has developed among the Gallery Staff, and we are looking forward to meeting together again in the not too distant future, particularly as a colleague, Kara, was unable to be with us for the final week or two.

There were several quite crypic exhibits in the exhibition, the most emotive one being the encoded ‘embuggerance’ in Gallery 3. I liked to think that the reason for encoding this rude word was to avoid young children quizzing their parents as to its meaning. However, that theory was exploded when extra signage was placed right outside the café, pointing out the direction to the ‘Embuggerance’! It is astonishing how many people failed to notice this encoding. When asked whether they had noticed the significance of the letters in different font, some would reply, “Oh yes; they were the letters Terry couldn’t see very well!

Several of my colleagues were of the opinion that  the term ‘embuggerance’ was coined by Sir Terry himself, but a Google search revealed that it was a military term dating back to the 1950s, but popularised following the 1990s Gulf War conflict when Andy McNab, formerly of the SAS, published his book Bravo Two Zero (2008).

I had already attended several shifts before I noticed another two further subtleties. One of these is that Gaspode the Wonder Dog, on the Interactive DiscWorld Massif says ’Woof’, when clicked. This was despite a massive clue in the second line down of the legend, which says, It looked up slowly and said ‘Woof!’. Having noticed this, I was disappointed that The Librarian doesn’t say ‘Ook’!

The other subtlety came to my attention late one afternoon when I was alone in Gallery 2, and wondered why I could hear birds twittering. It came, of course, from Terry’s office, where other sounds included sheep bleating and the cat purring. Several people asked, incidentally, where the cat  slept now that Terry’s desk was in the Museum!

I was curious as to why there were two versions of Terry’s family motto. In Gallery 2, the family crest bore the motto, Non Timere Messorum, whereas the bronze bust in Gallery 3 bore the variant, Noli Timere Messorum. Resorting to Google again, I encountered various grammar nerds speculating that one means ‘Fear Not the Reaper’ whereas the other is subtly different and means ‘[I] do not fear the reaper’. Taking advantage of the presence of a visit by Paul Kidby one afternoon, I took the opportunity to ask him why Terry had these two versions. To my disappointment, he explained that the version on his armorial bearings hadn’t been properly considered, and was ‘dog Latin’, whereas they ensured it was grammatically correct for the bust. And there was I thinking that there must be a deep philosophical reason… .

However, the aspect that I most enjoyed explaining about the exhibition is how well it fitted with the raison d’etre of the Museum. Thus in his book, ‘I Shall Wear Midnight’, Terry describes a ‘chalk giant who isn’t wearing trousers, and he’s male; very definitely male!’. One realises immediately that this is the Cerne Abbas Giant, and, in the previous exhibition, ‘British Art Ancient Landscapes’, there had been a large painting of the Cerne Abbas Giant in Gallery 2. Also in that exhibition there was a painting by Eric Ravilious which depicted the ‘Long Man of Wilmington’ and an illustration of the Uffington White Horse… and what should be depicted on Paul Kidby’s painting, ‘The Chalk’ but the Uffington White Horse – in the top left hand corner. This painting was also chosen to replace the view out of Terry’s office window.


I’ve just become aware of how many exclamation marks I’ve used in this piece. To quote Sir Terry, “Five exclamation marks, the sure sign of an insane mind”!



“..exciting and interesting…” by Joanna Arnott



Jo Arnott 2

Joanna Arnott was with us before Christmas….

Earlier this year I began a twenty-five day student placement with the learning department at the museum, and what an exciting and interesting experience I had! I am a part time student at Bath Spa University studying for an MA in Heritage Management, which I began in September 2016 after a 25 year career as a primary school teacher and adviser. I had heard about the excellent outreach work that the learning department at Salisbury Museum were doing and felt that this would be really useful for me to learn about.

Along with Owain Hughes (the Salisbury Museum Learning Officer) and the learning volunteers, I visited several schools to help with the Mini Museum project. Each school was different in the way they approached the project and I helped children to make a variety of objects for their own school museum, everything from Roman sandals to a desert island! It was really interesting to see how museum learning could take place in the community. At the same time I carried out some research for a university assignment called “The Town Museum: Making a difference or just a ‘bad habit’.” I used data collected from visitors to several Wiltshire town museums and Salisbury Museum came out very positively in being viewed as making a difference to the local community. Through helping with the Mini Museum project I was able to see this in action.

I was also asked to design a trail for young children for the Terry Pratchett exhibition. I devised a trail where the children have to tear a hole in their trail to look through, and then have to hunt for the bronze Nac Mac Feagles which are hidden in the museum galleries. I also helped Joyce Paesen (the Salisbury Museum Exhibitions Officer) set the exhibition up which was a very exciting experience especially when the BBC arrived to film! I learnt how to prepare paintings (thank you Joyce for being patient with my terrible screw driver skills) how to hang them at eye level and how an exhibition unfolds. It was an honour to attend the private viewing of the exhibition.

I would like to Richard Henry for letting me design the trail, and Owain for his support and advice throughout the placement, which I very much appreciated. And a big thank you to all the staff and volunteers who made me feel so welcome.

Thank you Joanna, and best wishes


WE WILL NEVER KNOW by Volunteer Alan Clarke




The museum has over 5000 glass negatives.  When we scan photographs, we scan the reverse of the photograph as well. The reverse often contains written information about the photograph.  However with glass negatives, there is no reverse and almost always no text,  numbering system or date written on the glass negative anywhere.  Whatever records went with the glass negative have usually long since been lost.  For example the museum received a donation of two shoeboxes full of marvellous glass negatives but nothing else.  There were no notebooks, indexes or any history of where the glass negatives came from – they were just found in the rubbish in a garage when the donators moved in and eventually got round to sorting through the junk.  This leaves us to try and recognise the scene or people.  For some images we will never know the date, photographer, location etc, but still the image conveys much information.

The image here shows a young girl holding a cat with a younger boy, possibly her brother, in the doorway of a building.  I suspect that the building is their home.  The boy has no socks or shoes on his feet.  There is no guttering, but a row of slates to direct the water from the roof away from the wall.  The steps into the door are stone and not concrete.  Is the wall chalk?  No windows can be seen in this photograph.  There is an ornamental dinner plate on the ground, possibly being used for feeding the cat.  There is a horse shoe hanging on a nail on the house wall, low down.  The horse shoe is upside down letting all the luck fall out!  It looks as though the floor beyond the door is stone with no carpet or covering.  The door has a door knob but does not appear to have a letterbox. There are small flower borders delineated by round stones, either side of the door.  There is a plant I don’t recognise growing up a string stretching from the ground to the top of the wall.  The image is so important because it gives a view of what life was like around, say, 1900 for a typical farming family.  It is just my guesses concerning the date and that this is the home of a farming family.  Note the girl’s ribbon in her hair stretching from the bow on one side to a bow on the other side with a neat parting down the middle.

Why would the photographer set up his camera stand here to take this very atmospheric photograph?  We’ll never know.


Old Friends


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IMG_4470 Tony and Phil

Last week, the museum was pleased to host a talk by Sir Tony Robinson (with a little help from his friends!). Our own Owain Hughes was there and reports back…

Sir Tony has an autobiography out – ‘No Cunning Plan’ – and his talk focused on that, and on his friendship with Sir Terry Pratchett.

He began by describing Sir Terry’s great love of the chalk landscape and invited a certain member of the audience – a great friend of ours, Phil Harding – to explain the origins of this local landscape, and to share a few memories of Time Team digging in it!

Rob Wilkins, Terry’s assistant, business manager and long term friend added to the memories of the writer by describing how the two of them ‘bonded’ – at a book signing when they realised they were both ‘electronic nerds’!

Tony’s links with the writer go back a long way. At an early encounter, Terry was to congratulate Tony on some comedy programmes he had written for Radio Bristol. In subsequent years Tony was to create the audio versions of Terry’s books and played a role, the store manager, in the 2006 film version of Terry’s ‘Hogfather’.

The same year, Tony appeared in Tony Robinson: Me and My Mum, a documentary surrounding his decision to find a nursing home for his mother, and the difficulty he had doing so. In the intervening years he has become a supporter of Alzheimer’s research and charities, which, of course would have been a bond between the two men, as Terry began to suffer himself. When Terry was invited to do the Dimbleby lecture in 2010 he was already struggling with the illness, and while he introduced the lecture, it was Tony who read Terry’s words. It was about death, our attitudes to it and about assisted death. The audience here were very moved when Tony read an abridged version of the lecture at this talk. As indeed visitors have been moved by this aspect of the museum’s exhibition.

Owain shares with us some of the excitement at the end of the talk…


The talk ran over the allotted time and with less than an hour before his train was due to leave, Tony began signing copies of his books for a very long queue of eager fans. He was due to give an interview to the British Forces Broadcasting Service which they managed to do somewhere on the car journey to the station! The next day, he was at the Royal Albert Hall, reading at a carol service.

A busy man. Thank you Sir Tony for your visit and sharing your memories.

One Giant Lego Mosaic


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One   giant LEGO mosaic with 960 tiles and 61,440 bricks

Thirty six  volunteers

One  hundred and thirty  models of ‘The Luggage’ constructed

Four hundred and sixty  visitors

The Staff  Team

Not quite the Twelve Days of Christmas! BUT we overcame rain inside the marquee, cling filming LEGO in the dark, avoided a storm, managed to keep warm (mostly) and delivered another amazing event to our visitors.

Sincere thanks to you all for everything you contributed towards a wonderful day.

See the finished article in the museum now.