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

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

Exon Domesday

Discovering William the Conqueror’s Somerset

A unique document from the age of William the Conqueror is now on display at The Museum of Somerset in Taunton throughout February and March.

Known as ‘Exon Domesday’, the document was created in 1086 as part of a vast survey of England ordered by its Norman conqueror, William I. It has been preserved for many centuries in Exeter Cathedral Library and is named after the Latin word for Exeter (Exonia).

The most famous book in English history

The document is the most detailed surviving draft of Domesday Book, perhaps the most famous book in English history, and covers the five western counties of Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset and Wiltshire, although not all of it has survived.

Its 532 parchment pages give a remarkable picture of the landscape and people of the South West at the time the Normans were taking control and include much information that Domesday Book leaves out, including unique accounts of the levying of the geld, the principal royal tax.

With grateful thanks

“We are deeply grateful to the Dean and Chapter of Exeter Cathedral for allowing us to display Somerset sections from Exon Domesday,’ Tom Mayberry, Chief Executive of the South West Heritage Trust, said. “It is an extraordinary document and a unique survival. Without it we would know far less about South West England in those turbulent years of conquest and change.”

Uncovering the document’s secrets

In 2011 Exon Domesday was removed from its nineteenth-century binding so that digital photography and detailed study could begin. Since then a major research project by a team from King’s College London and the University of Oxford, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, has been uncovering the document’s secrets. One strange and unexplained discovery was the mark of a medieval spearhead imprinted across two of the Somerset pages.

The exhibition runs from Saturday 4 February to Saturday 1 April.

Admission is free.

Associated events

Two talks at the Museum of Somerset by members of the project team will explain Exon Domesday and the research project while the document is on display.

On Thursday 9 March at 7.30 pm Dr Frank Thorn, the foremost living editor and translator of Domesday Book, will speak about Exon Domesday in the Great Hall at the museum (tickets £8.50). Booking available via TicketSource.

On Friday 10 March at 2.30 pm Dr Chris Lewis of King’s College London will speak about how William the Conqueror’s great land tax of 1086 was collected in Somerset. Part of the Talk and Tea series (tickets £5).

Tickets can be booked on 01823 255088.

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

Halloween – Monday 31st October

Explore the museum on the spookiest night of the year!halloween-fb The museum will be in darkness so do bring along your torch.  There will be crafts and activities and even a bit of magic!

Entrance costs £3 per person (age3+) or a family ticket for up to 2 adults and 3 children costs £10.

Doors will open at 5.30pm prompt.  Tickets are not available in advance but entrance will be quicker if you bring cash!  Last entrance is at 7.30pm

 

 

 

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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 http://www.ticketsource.co.uk/themuseumofsomerset or 01823 255088.

Museum launches campaign to secure Yeovil hoard of Roman coins

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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

Hidden Taunton Town Tours

Hidden tours

From roundhouses to gin palaces, almshouses to hotels, Hidden Taunton is a guided walking tour exploring some of the forgotten stories, vanished buildings and remarkable residents of Somerset’s County Town.

Along with well-known sites such as Taunton Castle and the site of Taunton Priory, the tour takes in lesser known locations including the area of earliest known human habitation in the town. Discover which Taunton landlords earned a place in the Madame Tussaud’s Chamber of Horrors; the venue which played host to both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones; and which part of Taunton was described as “one of the most disgusting places ever witnessed”.

Booking information

Each tour departs from The Museum of Somerset every Saturday at 11.00 am and Wednesday at 2.00 pm from 11 June until the end of September.

The tour lasts approximately 90minutes, finishing at Taunton Visitor Centre.

The tours cost £3 per person; you can reserve your place by phoning 01823 255088.

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