Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Stories of Sherborne

8th July 2014

By Jack Welch, Volunteer Press Officer

The WITS team got their backpacks and time travel gear on today, as we made an adventure to trace the footsteps of Dorset's famous pilgrimaging Saint, St. Aldhelm and Sherborne's role in early Saxon history. Alongside our familiar friend from Dorset Young Remembers, Pippa Brindley, the group would also participate in a storytelling workshop later in the afternoon which will equip the group with vital skills in creating concise and attention-grabbing tales for our caches. Firstly though, we made our visit to the Abbey in the centre of the town Shown around by Education Officer of the Abbey, Lesley McCreadie, the group observed the magnificent architecture that surrounded the church and because of the later Norman invasion, St. Aldhelm, who was the first Bishop of the Abbey, would not have recognised its features his much simpler Abbey building was believed to have been next to today's building in 705.

Not knowing what the famous Bishop really looked like can pose a challenge to most artists. There were at least three interpretations of the famous Bishop that we saw, some of which you can see here:

The group also witnessed the tomb of Sir John Horsey and his son, the former being the man who had purchased the church after the monasteries were dissolved in the Tudor era and saved the Abbey being destroyed by Henry the VIII. As we approached the end of the tour, the group were also pointed to a Mermaid in the roof of the Abbey, which has now become a phenomenon for the visitors to the historic site.

Thanking Lesley McCreadie for the insightful tour, we ventured down to Pagent Gardens for a well-deserved lunch break (where treats included a mix of tiffin, flapjack and oranges!) As the sunny conditions pressed on into the afternoon, we were able to begin our workshop with Pippa in the gardens. As the session got underway, our first challenge wasn't far behind us, as Pippa put our skills of short and snappy storytelling to the test from what we did earlier in the morning. With a stricken match acting as our stopwatch, the group had to cope with the pressure of this initial challenge. Once the group had shared stories about stray cats, stolen army helmets and lunches, everyone pulled together in smaller groups to use our imaginations in adding descriptions of the Papa New Guinea myth of dogs who came to meet in a large castle. From the bizarre to the elaborate, we all shared some wacky ideas on how the dogs would take off their tails or how the gran castle may look on top of the mountain.

Following that, we all allocated ourselves prescribed words on a story to be fed back to the group once we had written something on paper. With words as wide-ranging as 'cardigan' or 'yellow bush' being thrown in, we all probably did rather well in the circumstances. We realised our stories were more entertaining  and engaging if we worked as collaboratively as a group. With the workshop done for now and the group ready to apply their new story telling skills to set some very interesting stories for our Caches, we made our way back with our imaginations switched on for planning the next stage! From our research we know some very interesting facts about St Aldhelm who was a remarkable character himself,and a great one for adventures, we have his poems and his riddle and with our new story telling techniques we want to bring his time in the Dark ages back to life.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Dorchester and the Great War

Visitors to the Corn Exchange on Friday 8th August can step back in time to experience what life was like in Dorchester during the Great War.

This year marks the centenary of the beginning of World War One in which over 4,500 Dorset soldiers lost their lives.

The free event has been organised by a consortium of partners including Dorchester Town Council, Dorset Youth Association, Dorset County Museum, The Keep Military Museum, a local historian and Dorchester Rotary Club. Any money raised will go to The Rifles “Care for Casualties” appeal.

1st Battalion Dorsets manning Trench 38 Hill 60 – Ypres Spring 1915. Soldier making a makeshift periscope to view German Trench © The Keep Military Museum 2014

The Mayor will open the event at 10:00am and at 10:30am Dorset Youth Association will launch the ‘Walking in their Shoes’ First World War Interactive History trail funded by a grant of £28,200 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

There will be talks by local historian Brian Bates and Curator at the Keep Military Museum, Chris Copson.

“It is important to commemorate the sacrifice and the achievement of British soldiers in the war.”

“It was a war of ordinary people achieving extraordinary things.”

“If what we are doing gives people a more accurate idea of what the war was like, that’s very important,” says Chris.

Leaving the Somme Trenches 1st or 6th Dorsets © The Keep Military Museum 2014

Visitors will even be able to dress up in Tommy Uniform, listen to a performance of World War One songs and try some rationed WW1 stew and cake. Bring any WW1 memorabilia to be identified by an expert and share your WW1 family history stories at the listening post. Children can take part in a trench art workshop and have a go at geocaching along the ‘Walking in their Shoes’ trail. The Durnovaria Silver Band will round up the day with a performance at 3:00pm before doors close at 7:00pm.

For further information please contact Steve Newman on 01305 266861 or email

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Camping at Avon Tyrrell

Here are a few photos from the Avon Tyrrell camping trip on the 13th to 14th June.
James and Ben hard at work
Michael in the off road BOMA 
Walking in their Shoes group with staff from Avon Tyrrell

Calzone making 

Finishing the walk at Avon Tyrrell