Somerset in the First World War Research Symposium

Sunday 22 March 2015

9.30am – 5pm

£12 per person (includes lunch)

To mark the end of the Somerset Remembers project eight speakers will explore the many ways the county was affected by the First World war.  The symposium will draw on new research that shows how the events of 19-14-1918 changed people and communities forever.

Learn about the impact of the conflict on mental health, the story of the Somerset Light Infantry and the creation of war memorials.

To book please call the museum on 01823 255088

The Jewel in the Baldric

The Mendip Morris men, whose logo and dress is centred on the Alfred jewel will be visiting the museum on Saturday 14th February at 11am to dance for us and to visit the jewel.  Founded in 1956, the Mendip Morris Men adopted the Alfred Jewel as their badge due to its connections to Somerset and Alfred the Great.  The insignia is worn with pride as the centrepiece of their baldricks (the cross sashes worn by Morris dancers)  We are delighted they will be dancing at the museum at 11am.

Alfred – A Great Name!

Alfred – A Great Name!

King Alfred is the only English king to be called ‘The Great’, and in celebration of having the Alfred Jewel on display, the café at the museum is offering a free ‘Alfred Special’ (a drink and a slice of cake) to all visitors with the name Alfred.

So if you’re called Alfred (not necessarily as a first name) pop along to the museum with an appropriate piece of ID to claim your treat.  Take your ID to the Welcome Desk, and they will give you a token to use at the café at any point in February.

Susie Simmons, Visitor Services Manager at the museum said, “We thought it would be nice to celebrate all those who share their name with the great man.  My dad is called Stanley Alfred and is delighted his name is becoming fashionable in Somerset.  He’s looking forward to his slice of cake.”

“But we don’t expect to find anyone like the man born at West Hatch near Taunton in 1845.  His name was Alfred Jewell!”

The Alfred Jewel is here…

The Alfred Jewel, one of the most celebrated treasures from Anglo-Saxon England, has returned to Somerset for the first time in nearly 300 years.

Through the kindness of the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, the Jewel will be disThe Alfred Jewel 1played at the Museum of Somerset during the month of February.

The Jewel, which dates from the late 9th century, was found near North Petherton church in 1693.  It is lavishly made of gold, enamel and rock crystal and includes the image of a seated figure. It also bears a famous inscription which translates as ‘Alfred ordered me to be made’.

It has long been assumed that King Alfred the Great commissioned the Jewel, and that it may have been his gift to the abbey at Athelney which he founded in thanksgiving for his defeat of the Vikings in 878.

Tom Mayberry, Chief Executive of the South West Heritage Trust, said, “The Alfred Jewel is a unique and compelling object which goes to the heart of West Country history. It left Somerset in 1718 and has never returned, so this is a very special occasion.

“We are deeply grateful to the Ashmolean Museum for making possible the loan of one of its greatest treasures. We are also very grateful to Arts Council England who contributed to the costs of the exhibition and without whose practical support the loan could not have happened.”

David Gwyther, Chairman of the South West Heritage Trust, said, “This is a fantastic opportunity to see one of England’s undoubted national treasures.  We hope as many people as possible will visit the Museum of Somerset during February to experience this unique and beautiful survival from the distant past.”

Dr Alexander Sturgis, Director of the Ashmolean Museum, said, ‘The Alfred Jewel is an iconic object of Anglo-Saxon England and one of the most popular treasures at the Ashmolean.  For that reason, we rarely part with it, but it is a huge pleasure to lend the Jewel to the Museum of Somerset and thereby return it to its home county, if only for a month.  I hope as many people as possible from Somerset and the region go along to see the real Jewel and learn about this extraordinary and evocative object.’

The Alfred Jewel is on display from Saturday 31 January until Saturday 28 February.  Full details of the events are in the events listing on the ‘what’s on’ part of our website.

The Museum’s opening hours during February are 10.00 am to 5.00 pm on Tuesdays to Saturdays, with last entry at 4.30 pm. There will also be special late opening events on Tuesdays. Admission to the museum is free.