One of the most important fossil sites in Britain will open to the general public for the first time on 28 May, Bank Holiday Monday from 11am until 4pm, revealing deposits of international interest dating back some 170 million years. We are really proud that Beaminster Museum is leading this.
The Horn Park Quarry site, on the B3163 between Beaminster and Broadwindsor, is the country’s smallest natural nature reserve and contains what geologists describe as the most significant examples of ammonites in Britain.
The Jurassic Coast Trust and Natural England, in association with Beaminster Museum have been working on the site to make it accessible for viewing by the public though collection of fossils is not permitted.
Visitors will be able to see the magnificent specimens in situ, look at the examples from Beaminster Museum loan boxes, follow the fault lines and chat with experts. There will be activities for all ages. The Quarry has a direct link to the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site in that the fossils exposed are also found at the top of the cliffs near Burton Bradstock, where there is no access.
Horn Park Quarry is famous to geologists worldwide for the amazing abundance of fossil ammonites found, representing an almost complete record of part of the Jurassic period. It is now used to correlate rocks of the same age throughout the world. They date from around 170 million years ago when what is now Dorset was situated near the equator.
The beautiful coiled shells of ammonites are probably the most recognisable fossil in the world. The shells were buried and turned to stone, while the soft parts rotted away.
Entry is free, though donations towards upkeep would be welcomed, and parking is available on site. Visitors are advised to wear strong shoes with grip and to beware of steps, slopes and rough surfaces. There will be no toilet or refreshment facilities
From Paleolithic axes to modern versions of nursery rhymes, from a murdered tranter to today’s WI, we have even more to discover this year. Hatch, Match and Despatch gives a sometimes highly entertaining, sometimes sobering view of local customs surrounding birth, marriage and death. 100 Years of the WI marks the centenary of the Women’s Institute in the town including its links with women in other countries.
True to our tradition, this season also brings a new discovery trail and a fossil rubbing box for younger visitors.
Many aspects of our heritage continue to be shown in our permanent (but updated) displays including the local flax and hemp industry, schools, pubs, Horn Park Quarry and more.
Older visitors are invited to add to our ever-growing records with their own memories of the history of the town and its surroundings using the Memory Book in the upper gallery.
Opening times, accessibility and research information can be found on the relevant pages.
The annual book sale is upon us! Saturday 24 February opening at 10 am. Not just our own marvellous publications but hundreds, maybe thousands, of books donated from far and wide. There is always a wide variety of specialist ‘I’ve been looking for that!’ and more recent popular titles. Do come along. The museum itself is not open as we are preparing for our new season but there will be plenty of people on hand to answer questions.
Our latest exhibition in the niche has:
- A model train for kids of all ages to move from Waterloo to Beaminster
- A map showing we (and London) are closer to France than each other
- Amazing snippets of information showing how Beaminster families made their mark in London and beyond
- Links from currently known Beaminster names to London.
Come and explore. Ask us questions. Bring evidence if you have it of how Beaminster influenced London and the world. You do know Henry the Hoover started here, don’t you?
As part of an on-going project we are collating data for agriculture from the villages. An indication of the weath of material available has been listed by Duncan and that list can be seen here. As research continues, we would welcome any old photographs, details of farm sales or use of farm land from Beaminster or any of our villages so please get in touch or come in and see us if you have any information.
The large number of watermills and manufactories used in Beaminster and the surrounding villages is one of our key areas of record-keeping and research. Duncan Harris has just put together a very useful list of sources available within the museum. This will be updated as more items are found.
For 145 years, there has been a masonic lodge here in Beaminster and many local families have been and still are actively involved in its charitable works.
The United Grand Lodge of England is celebrating its tercentenary this year so the museum, as part of that celebration, is hosting a summer exhibition in the ‘niche’ highlighting some of the characters, skills and activities of Beaminster Masons over the years.
Their early connections with excellence in craftsmanship can be seeen in some of the exhibits. It is also clear to see that Masons of old, if not today, could certainly dine well and heartily! Can anyone, today, eat that much?
There are still some lovely , locally crafted walking sticks available for sale in the museum shop so if you forgot yours when on holiday, you know where to come. Souvenir and practicality in one visit.
There are also some very original, light-weight, finely finished wooden bangles for only £2 each!!! (A steal!)
The Museum is delighted to once again host a photographic exhibition from Beaminster School students. This is now an important part of the Beaminster Festival and a valuable experience for the students themselves, showing their work to a wider audience.
So, apparently, museums are failing to close the participation gap. Hmm: not so sure that is true in Beaminster. We have children of all ages, learned professors, ‘staying over the road’ visitors, ‘want to see great-granny/grandad’s contribution’ visitors, overseas visitors of all ages from many countries – and people who return just because they enjoy what is on offer. We have also installed a stairlift that has been seen to double as a handrail for the very young.
Thankfully, we are rarely crowded and a local welcome is here – a welcome to suit you and what you want to do, whatever your age or background. We can’t do anything about the exterior but come inside and just have a look around. Have a laugh. Ask questions. Enjoy the things to do. Create your own list of things to do – we don’t expect anyone to do anything except explore and hopefully get a bit puzzled at times. See Opening times for more information.