The Remnants of an Army Returns to the Somerset Military Museum

The Remnants of an Army by Lady Elizbeth Butler returned to the Somerset Military Museum this September. The painting belongs to the Tate Gallery and was recalled to Tate Britain in 2015 where it featured in Artist and Empire, a major exhibition of art associated with the British Empire from the 16th century to the present day. The exhibition, including the painting, later travelled to the National Gallery of Singapore.

Remnents of army-sml

Elizabeth Butler (1846-1933) achieved fame for her realistic depictions of war and its consequences. The Remnants of an Army is one of her best-known works.

The painting shows the moment in 1842 when Dr William Brydon arrived outside the fortress town of Jellalabad during the 1st Afghan War. He brought the terrible news that 17,000 British soldiers and camp followers had been massacred. They had been making their way back from Kabul to India. But they were attacked along the route despite a promise of safe passage from Akbar Khan, the Afghan tribal leader.  Dr Brydon was one of very few survivors.

Soldiers of the 13th Light Infantry, the regiment which would later become the Somerset Light Infantry were then besieged in the fortress town of Jellalabad. After five months they broke out and defeated the Afghans in one of the most famous military operations of the Victorian age.

Find Out More

Join Curator of Military History Sam Astill for a Talk and Tea exploring the painting at The Museum of Somerset at 2.30 pm on 10 November (£5.)

A Fragile Beauty: Art on the Blackdown Hills 1909 to 1925

An exhibition of works by the Camden Town Group

Opens Saturday 25 March

An exhibition of works by the Camden Town Group opens at the Museum of Somerset in Taunton on Saturday 25 March. ‘A Fragile Beauty: Art on the Blackdown Hills 1909 to 1925’ captures the beauty of this Somerset and Devon borderland in a period when the First World War was changing English society forever.

The Camden Town Group initially painted contemporary urban life, but later they were drawn to the countryside, especially the Blackdown Hills. Read more


Spencer Gore’s ‘Applehayes’ on kind loan from the Ulster Museum

2017 Wild Art Calendars

On sale now at The Museum of Somerset these calendars will make great Christmas presents!

Wild Art

This stunning calendar features images of the natural world taken from the Neal brother’s Wild Art exhibition currently on at the museum. Each photograph features animal shapes and faces hidden in the landscape and invites viewers to offer their own interpretations.

Produced by Andrew Neal

Cost: £12

Size: A3 (fold out to A2)

The calendar is available to buy from the Museum of Somerset, Castle Green, Taunton, TA1 4AA

2017 Harry Frier Calendar

The paintings of Harry Frier

This lovely calendar features monthly images by one of Somerset’s best known artists Harry Frier. His watercolours document life in and around Taunton during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Produced by The Friends of the Museum of Somerset

Cost: £5

Size: A4

The calendar is available to buy from the Museum of Somerset, Castle Green, Taunton, TA1 4AA

Museum launches campaign to secure Yeovil hoard of Roman coins

Yeovil hoard 5-web

Otacilia Severa, wife of Philip I, AD 244-249, with hippo on the reverse. This is one of a number of coin types struck to mark the 1000th anniversary of Rome in AD 248

The South West Heritage Trust has launched a campaign to secure the Yeovil hoard so that it can be displayed in the Museum of Somerset and enjoyed by local people.

The Yeovil hoard of 3,335 Roman coins was discovered in March 2013 while ground works were being carried out on a new artificial grass pitch on behalf of South Somerset District Council at Yeovil Recreation Centre. The hoard was spotted by Mark Copsey, the driver of a bulldozer, who reported the find.

The hoard was declared Treasure and in May The Treasure Valuation Committee recommended a valuation of £53,500. To support the museum’s acquisition bid South Somerset District Council have generously waived their right as landowner to half the value of the reward. The Friends of the Museum of Somerset have also pledged their support by kindly donating £1,000.

Read more and see images of the hoard

Important New Paintings go on Display

Visitors to the Museum will be able to enjoy two newly-acquired paintings which went on display on Monday  16 May.  A portrait of the Somerset-born philosopher John Locke and Tristram Hillier’s picture ‘The Vale from Cucklington’ can be seen in the museum’s ‘Making Somerset’ gallery.

Read more and visit to the see the paintings

The Art of Victor Ambrus

Richard III-web

The exhibition includes this bloody scene of King Richard III in his final moments at the Battle of Bosworth, 1485

The achievement of the Hungarian-born artist and illustrator Victor Ambrus is celebrated at the Museum of Somerset from 23 April to 2 July.

‘The Art of Victor Ambrus’ features some 90 original works created over a period of nearly 60 years by this much-loved artist.

Victor is one of Britain’s foremost illustrators of history, folk tales and children’s books and is well known for his archaeological reconstructions created for Channel 4’s Time Team series.

Works in the exhibition feature many aspects of his diverse career. They include lithographs from his student days, works commissioned for the Museum of Somerset, archaeological reconstructions for Time Time, and just some of the enormous number of his illustrations for children’s books.

The centrepiece is the bloody scene of King Richard III in his final moments at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. He was the last English monarch killed in battle. The illustration was inspired when the skeleton of the king was discovered in a Leicester car park in 2012.

The exhibition is FREE.

Read more and visit

Taunton Life is ‘Captured in Time’ for Art Exhibition

Tone Bridge by Harry Frier-web

A watercolour made in 1908 of Tone Bridge as rebuilt in 1834. The bridge was rebuilt in 1810, 1834 and 1895.

Life in Taunton, its people and places, are captured in time for an exhibition of watercolours opening at The Museum of Somerset on Saturday 19 March.

Harry Frier (1849–1921) is one of Somerset‘s best known artists. His paintings document life in and around Taunton during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Frier moved to Somerset in 1883 and began painting watercolours of local scenes. He was a prolific worker and at least 600 of his paintings survive.

‘Captured in Time: The Art of Harry Frier’ has been curated from collections cared for by the South West Heritage Trust and features more than 30 of the artist’s works. It includes scenes of Taunton, among them views of Tone Bridge, Fore Street, Church Square and Bath Place. Frier’s most ambitious painting, ‘The Assize Fair’ is also included together with a depiction of the fire that destroyed Pollard’s timber yard in 1889. There are also scenes of the surrounding countryside in villages including Creech St Michael and Bishops Lydeard. The exhibition is in the museum at Taunton Castle, which was also the subject of several of Frier’s paintings.

Read more and visit

The Becket Casket

The Becket CasketCIS:M.66-1997

A jewelled and enamelled casket depicting medieval England’s most infamous murder is going on display at the Museum of Somerset in Taunton. The Becket Casket, made in about 1180, held relics of St Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury.  He was murdered in 1170 by knights who had Somerset and Devon roots and were followers of King Henry II.

The precious object is being loaned by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (V&A) and will be displayed at the Museum of Somerset from Saturday 30 January to Saturday 2 April.

Entrance to the museum is free, including visiting the Becket Casket exhibition.

Read more

Museum of Somerset Celebrates 100,000 Visitors in 2015


Museum of Somerset Celebrates 100,000 Visitors in 2015

Staff and volunteers at the Museum of Somerset are celebrating an outstandingly successful 2015.

More than 107,000 visitors will have come through the doors by the end of the year, thanks not least to some special exhibitions and increasing use by Somerset schools.

Alfred Jewel and Brick Wonders 

The arrival of the Alfred Jewel for the month of February attracted an unprecedented 24,500 visitors to the museum. They came from all over Great Britain and from as far away as New Orleans to see the most famous treasure of Anglo-Saxon England back in its home county.

The museum’s summer exhibition, ‘Brick Wonders’, drew more than 900 people a day at its height, seeking to discover the wonders of the world recreated in Lego.

Thank you to our volunteers

Visitor Services Manager Susie Simmonds said: “When the museum opened in 2011 we set ourselves a target of 60,000 visitors a year, so we’re thrilled to have welcomed such a large number of people during 2015. Our amazing museum team is supported by a wonderful group of loyal volunteers who are essential to the work the museum does.”

Supporting Somerset’s cultural and economic life

Tom Mayberry, Chief Executive of the South West Heritage Trust, which runs the museum, said: “We’re delighted and proud that the Museum of Somerset has become such an important contributor to Somerset’s cultural and economic life. We’ll be making sure that the museum continues to find new and engaging ways to reveal Somerset’s wonderful heritage to the widest range of people.”

Part of The South West Heritage Trust

The Museum of Somerset became part of The South West Heritage Trust, a new independent charity, on 1 November 2014. As well as the widely-praised Museum of Somerset and the current redevelopment of the Rural Life Museum, in Glastonbury, the Trust manages state-of-the-art facilities in Taunton and Exeter to care for the extraordinary archive collections of the two counties. The Trust also provides essential advice about the historic environment and manages historic sites.