Somerset’s Buccaneer: Talk on 13 September

William DampierSomerset buccaneer William Dampier is the subject of an evening talk at the museum on Tuesday 13 September.

The talk is part of the summer exhibition ‘Pirates: Fact and Fiction’ which explores pirates through history, in film and in literature. The talk will be given by Tom Mayberry, Chief Executive of the South West Heritage Trust. Dampier was born at East Coker in 1651.

A brilliant navigator

Tom said: “Dampier was the first person to sail around the world three times and the first to explore parts of Australia. He was a brilliant navigator and an important naturalist. But most of his career was spent as a buccaneer, or pirate. The ships he sailed in often targeted Spanish settlements on the Pacific coast of South America.”

Vivid descriptions of distant places

Dampier recorded his experiences in books which include New Voyage Round the World (1697). His vivid descriptions of distant places were very influential, inspiring literature such as Gulliver’s Travels and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Among words that Dampier introduced to the English language are ‘banana’, ‘barbecue’ and ‘chopsticks’.

Tom continued: “Dampier died in London in 1715, almost £700 in debt. But his reputation as a bold explorer and terror to the Spanish lived on.”

Dampier display at the museum 

The ‘Pirates: Fact & Fiction’ exhibition is provided by Pop-Up Exhibitions and is suitable for all ages. In addition the museum has created a display about William Dampier, which includes his portrait, generously loaned by East Coker Village Hall Management Committee. It also features maps and illustrations from Dampier’s books and the register recording his baptism at East Coker.

Booking for talk

‘Somerset’s Buccaneer: The Life and Adventure of William Dampier’ starts at 7.30 pm, tickets cost  £9.50 with booking advised via or 01823 255088.

Work for us!

We are looking for new Visitor Services Assistants

We aim to be Somerset’s flagship museum and a must-see visitor attraction for both local people and visitors to the county.  These posts are responsible for welcoming visitors to the museum, assisting with the security, maintenance and cleanliness of the site, assisting with events and helping with the museum shop.

A basic awareness of health and safety and premises issues is required, and you must be confident and comfortable with using computers and other technical equipment (eg. tills).

You should also have a genuine enthusiasm about Somerset’s history and heritage, and be keen to share this to inform and inspire our visitors.

Maximum flexibility, and the ability to work additional hours/overtime, sometimes at short notice, is essential.

Applicants must live within a short distance of the museum to be able to attend out of hours alarm calls.

There are two posts.  A full-time post generally worked Tuesday to Saturday.  There is also a post for 30 hours a week, including a Saturday.

Application forms and Job descriptions can be downloaded from the ‘Get Involved’ part of our website

For further information, please contact Susie Simmons, Visitor Services Manager on 01823 255088 or email


Salary £15,975 (pro rata for 30 hours a week post)

3 year fixed term contract

Closing date: 5pm, Friday 3rd June 2016

In the Night Sky event on Friday 13th May

Nightsky1Space Detectives will bring you an exciting evening learning about the stars in the night sky, the myths and stories surrounding the constellations and how our ancestors viewed the heavens. There will be an interactive presentation suitable for all ages followed by a range of space science activities in which children and grown ups can take part!! And… if the weather is kind, there will be the opportunity to look at our own parent Star – The Sun through a highly specialized telescope which will allow us to observe safely in real time.

As part of Museums at Night, this family workshop will cover all aspects of observing the night sky, including history. Led by Jo Richardson ESERO-UK Space Ambassador.

Suggested minimum age for children taking part is 2 years old. The whole event is aimed at families – parents are encouraged to take part with their children. The activities themselves are suitable for all ages including pre-school. The initial presentation is fairly short and very interactive so the younger children can be involved.

£5 per person (adults and children).

You can book your tickets by contacting us on 01823 255088


Explore the museum on the spookiest night of the year – Halloween!

On Saturday October 31 from 5.30 to 8.30pm families are invited to take a self-guided torch-lit tour of the museum in the dark. Try spooky family craft activities, including making creepy spider hats, mini-ghosts and paper pumpkin lanterns. There will also be spooky stories in Castle House and Halloween-themed treats in the café. Wear fancy dress if you dare and bring a torch. Family activities suitable for ages 3 upwards. £3 adults £1 children. No booking required – just turn up.

On Friday 30 October at 7.30pm and on Saturday October 31 at 9pm grown-ups are invited to enjoy a glass of wine and a museum tour to explore the darker history of Taunton Castle. £10 per person (including a glass of wine.) Booking required on 01823 255088.

Dino Day on Sunday 25th October

The Museum of Somerset will be open 1Daisysaurus0am until 4pm on Sunday 25th October for some Giant Dinosaur Fun.  It costs £3 for adults and £1 for children (under 3s FREE).  We will have lots of crafts for those age 3 plus, along with dressing up, a dino trail,  and a puppet show by ‘Lyme Regis Rocks’.  Find out about Somerset’s only dinosaur – Camelotia, with our fossil expert.

It doesn’t matter what the weather is doing – as it’s all inside

No need to book – just come along.

Improved on-line booking system

We are delighted to announce that we have improved our on-line ticketing so that all tickets cost the same, whether they are purchased on-line at or by calling the museum.  It is not possible to book all tickets on-line, for our smaller events they are only available from the museum, but we hope for the larger events visitors will really appreciate being able to buy them 24/7.

King Alfred’s Somerset Talk on Thursday 22nd October

The Alfred Jewel 1

On Thursday 22 October, Chief Executive of the South West Heritage Trust, Tom Mayberry will be giving an illustrated lecture entitled ‘Alfred’s Somerset’, tracing the creation of the Anglo-Saxon county and telling the dramatic story of King Alfred’s retreat to Athelney. On the same occasion,  Head of Museums, Steve Minnitt will be describing the famous Alfred Jewel and its continuing significance more than 1,000 years after it was made.

The event starts at 7.30pm. Booking is advised, with tickets available from or by calling the museum on 01823 255088