Heritage Open Day

Dorchester Heritage Open Day

18 September 2022

Each year, places across the country throw open their doors and give people the chance to see hidden places and try new experiences for free.

This year’s theme is ‘Astounding Inventions’. This provides a great opportunity to explore the many innovations inspired by local people.

The event coincides with the 400th anniversary of the Dorchester Brewhouse set up in September 1622 to provide a welfare system via a tax on beer and Dorchester’s 21st-century Brewhouse & Kitchen has created a special “Heritage” beer to mark the occasion.

Visit St Peter’s church to find out about Rev John White, the “Patriarch of Dorchester”, who set up the Brewhouse and the Massachusetts Bay Company to settle America, and William Barnes, local polymath and dialect poet. Visit the Shire Hall Museum to hear about the Tolpuddle Martyrs who inspired the trade union movement and Keep Military Museum to explore innovation through military history and enjoy displays from Nothe Fort Garrison.

Demonstrations of flint knapping, pottery, tin casting, and jewellery-making can be seen at the Roman Town House, where the Portable Antiquities Scheme will be encouraging people to bring in their finds and artefacts.

Visit the Corn Exchange to see “Galpin’s Folly” and find out about Martha Brown at Dorchester Prison.

Where did Sir Frederick Treves, developer of the appendectomy live? Who invented the first composting toilet? Answers can be found at Dorset Museum, on the guided tours of the town, or from the living history displays in Nappers Mite. Visit KeeP 106 at the town pump to send morse code messages, pick up an activity sheet and decipher the naval flags on display around the town.

FREE EVENT – Something for all the family

  • Opening hours:

    Daily: 9.00am - 4.30pm
    Sunday: 10.00am - 4.00pm
    Bank Holidays: 10.00am - 4.00pm

  • Admissions:

    Annual Pass or Day Entry available

    Book now
  • Dorset Museum

    High West Street
    Dorchester DT1 1XA

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Heritage Open Days

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Heritage Open Day

Special Exhibition

28 May – 30 October 2022

Take a fresh look at the Victorian novelist and poet, Thomas Hardy, in the stunning Wessex landscapes that shaped his view of the world. His story will be retold in exciting new ways by our museum collections, from period costumes to personal letters, art to archaeology.

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9 September 2022 - 14 October 2022

Drawing Into Life – 6 Week Creative Course

Six week art course designed for adults interested in art and archaeology. This new course is an exciting opportunity to get up close with some extraordinary artefacts in the collection at Dorset Museum. You will be drawing inspiration from prehistoric art including Neolithic flint tools, Anglo Saxon gold, precious burial goods, Roman mosaics, decorative textiles and archaeological maps amongst others, and have the chance to work directly from the Elisabeth Frink collection.

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Community Exhibition

3 October 2022 - 8 February 2023


Unmasked is a local, voluntary project that began in the dark days of March 2020, when a new disease called COVID-19 literally stopped the world as we knew it.

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Poetry Evening


Who’s in the Next Room?

Poems by Thomas Hardy with new writing from Paul Hyland, Kate Scott, Catherine Simmonds & Pam Zinnemann-Hope

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Big Draw 2022

9 October 2022, 10:30am - 12noon

The Big Draw at Dorset Museum

Come and take part in our Big Draw event at Dorset Museum. Inspired by the natural world around us, colour and natural forms, help us create a giant collage in the style of Henri Rousseau to display in one of our galleries.

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11 October 2022, 11:00am - 12:00pm

Archaeology Highlights Tour

Explore archaeological treasures held by Dorset Museum – from Bronze Age gold to medieval silver -  in this volunteer-led tour.

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13 October 2022, 5:00pm - 7:00pm

Museum after hours

Join us for an opportunity to explore the Museum at this free late opening

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13 October 2022, 7:00pm - 8:00pm

A persistent place: a new chronology for Neolithic Dorchester

The area underneath and around the town of Dorchester was an important place for Neolithic people, who built a variety of monuments here over a period of 2000 years. In this talk, Dr Susan Greaney discusses the research project that has obtained radiocarbon dates from samples of antler picks, charcoal and human remains held in the Dorset Museum collection and has been able to build a brand new chronology for the monuments.

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21 October 2022, 7:00pm - 9:30pm

Strings Forever!

Join baroque violinist Emma-Marie Kabanova on a musical journey back in time exploring the dance tunes and folk music beloved by Thomas Hardy and his family.  Tim Laycock and Colin Thompson contribute the traditional dance tunes and folksongs of Dorset on violin, concertina and melodeon.

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