Collections

Delve digitally into 250 million years of Dorset’s history through our nationally and internationally important collections.

You can find significant archaeology, natural history and literary objects, along with items from our local history, art and textile collections, which tell a wider story about people’s lives in Dorset.

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT

The Victorian Hall will be hosting a private event on Friday 10th June 2022, all day and Saturday 11th June 2022, 12 noon to 5:00 pm, and therefore will be closed to visitors.

Some of Britain’s most significant archaeological finds are in this collection of around three million objects. They span from the Palaeolithic to the medieval period, and include objects from sites such as Maiden Castle and Roman Dorchester.
Dorset-Museum-Objects-bronze-age-glass-beaker

Archaeology

c.6th to 7th century CE

Germanic style glass bowl fragment

This was a strongly curved, low drinking vessel with molten glass trailed around it for decoration. It is rare and only normally seen in the east and southeast of England.

People’s Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-engraved-glass-bowl

Archaeology

43-410 CE

Engraved glass bowl from Colliton Park, Dorchester  

Engraved with followers of Dionysus, Greek god of wine.

People’s Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-shale-table-leg

Archaeology

43-410 CE

Shale table leg from a three-legged table 

Found in excavations at Colliton Park, Dorchester. Kimmeridge shale was used for many objects in Roman Dorset and beyond.

People’s Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-tarrant-valley-lunula

Archaeology

c.2,200-1,950 BCE

The Tarrant Valley lunula  

Named after the shape of a crescent moon, this Bronze Age lunula is very rare and the only one known from Dorset. These objects were first produced in Ireland, of gold beaten to a foil from a single ingot.

People’s Dorset
Dorset-Museum-Objects-glass-beads

Archaeology

c.100 BCE - 53 CE

Stone and glass beads, both local and imported 

From an Iron Age burial at Langton Herring, these beads belonged to a young woman.

People’s Dorset
dorset-archaeology-007

Archaeology

Early Bronze Age

Bronze Age beaker    

Beakers of this type are associated with the first objects made from metal. This beaker was found in Broadmayne.

People’s Dorset
dorset-archaeology-010

Archaeology

70-50 BCE

Hoard of sixteen gold Durotrigian staters

Staters were the earliest coinage in Britain. Hoards of them were sometimes treated in similar ways to other deposits of special objects.

People’s Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-Bronze-Plaque-Fragment-Maiden-Castle

Archaeology

43-410 CE

Bronze plaque fragment, with engraved figure  

The engraved figure of Minerva discovered during excavations of the Roman Temple, Maiden Castle.

People’s Dorset
Dorset-Museum-Objects-red-roman-hair

Archaeology

43-410 CE

Plait of red human hair  

Hair was preserved in several graves at the Roman cemetery at Poundbury because bodies were packed with gypsum. Women wore their hair long, often plaited and arranged on their head. The plaits were made of up to six strands, suggesting the help of a maid or hairdresser.

 

People’s Dorset
Dorset-Museum-Objects-Glass-jug-from-Bucknowle-Roman-Villa

Archaeology

Mid-3rd century to mid-4th century CE

Glass jug from Bucknowle Roman Villa

A large, oval-shaped glass jug with distinctive chain handle. A rare survivor, this is one of the finest examples of Roman glassware ever discovered in Britain.

People’s Dorset

Dating from the 16th century to the present day, this collection represents the dress of the rural working poor and the well-to-do. It includes delicate lace, sunbonnets, Dorset featherstitch, smocks, quilts, Dorset buttons, shoes and gentlemen’s 18th-century dress.
dorset-museum-rural-workers-shoe

Costume and textiles

1840 

Rural worker’s shoe              

Workers’ shoes rarely survive because they were often used until they wore out. This shoe was discovered in a barn and still has mud and straw on the sole.

People’s Dorset
dorset-museum-sun-bonnet

Costume and textiles

1850-1900

Sunbonnet    

Cotton bonnets shielded women’s faces and necks from the sun and rain. They shared similar print patterns or colours with the dresses women wore.

 

People’s Dorset
dorset-museum-shepards-smock

Costume and textiles

1850-1900

Shepherd’s smock

Dorset shepherd Job Green owned this smock made from hardwearing cotton and gathered at the front to give it shape. The thick fabric, stains and holes show that it is a working garment. He had another for special occasions.

People’s Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-dorset-box

Costume and textiles

c.1695

The Bond family raised-work box   

Raised, or stump, work was a popular 17th-century embroidery technique. Its padded decoration often featured biblical motifs, plants and flowers, but the figures on this intricately crafted box are thought to depict Charles II (1630-1685) and his wife Catherine of Braganza (1638-1705). The box belonged to the Bond family at Creech Grange.

People’s Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-dorset-shoe

Costume and textiles

c.1720

Embroidered shoe   

18th-century shoes often matched the colours of women’s luxurious silk gowns. Professional embroiderers would have decorated the fabric with floral designs ready for the shoemaker to craft into an upper.

People’s Dorset

Thomas Hardy is just one of the writers represented in the Museum’s collections. Others include the 19th-century poet, linguist and teacher William Barnes, and members of the Chaldon Herring literary and artistic community, such as the novelist Sylvia Townsend Warner, her partner the poet Valentine Ackland, and Powys family members.
dorset-museum-objects-Valentine-Ackland

Dorset Writers

Most likely c.1930s

Valentine Ackland      

Gertrude Mary Powys
Oil on canvas

Artists' Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-Katie-on-Josephine

Dorset Writers

Mid-1930s

Katie on ‘Josephine’       

Gertrude Mary Powys
Oil on canvas

Artists' Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-John-Cowper-Powysle

Dorset Writers

1930s

John Cowper Powys (1872-1963) AD

Gertrude Powys painted sensitive portraits of her siblings and other artists and writers who were part of the Chaldon Herring community. In this painting she highlighted the strong profile of her brother John by using shadow and a pale background.
Gertrude Mary Powys (1877-1952)
Oil on canvas

Artists' Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-Maquette-for-statue-William-Barnes-Edwin-Roscoe-Mullins

Dorset Writers

1886

Statue of William Barnes

Maquette for a statue of William Barnes by Edwin Roscoe Mullins (1848-1907)

People’s Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-William-Barnes-shoes

Dorset Writers

c.1880

William Barnes’ shoes

William Barnes (1801-1886) was well known and respected in Dorchester as a teacher, rector and one of the founders of Dorset Museum. A writer of Dorset dialect poetry, he also published essays on history, archaeology and linguistics.

People’s Dorset

Within this geology collection of around 18,000 specimens is the largest single assembly of material from the UNESCO Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. Around twenty holotype fossils include the Swanage snapper, a beautifully preserved crocodile skull, and the Weymouth Bay pliosaur, the largest substantially complete pliosaur – sea reptile – skull found to date.
dorset-museum-objects-Portland-Roach-Stone-with-molluscs

Geology

c.150 million years old (Portland Limestone Group)

Portland Roach stone with molluscs (Aptyxiella portlandicum and Myophorella sp.)   

When this limestone was forming, the snail and bivalve shells buried in it dissolved away, leaving gaps. The solid shell shapes you see are casts of the insides of these shells.
Portland, south Dorset

Natural Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-mother-of-pearl

Geology

c.190-201 million years old (Lias Group)

Belemnite with mother-of-pearl (Conoteuthis sp.)    

You rarely see mother-of-pearl preserved like this in a belemnite – a squid-like fossil. The shell was made up of fine, alternating layers of inorganic and organic materials. These split light into iridescent rainbow colours.
Lyme Regis, west Dorset

Natural Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-the-swanage-crocodile

Geology

c.140 million years old (Purbeck Group)

The Swanage crocodile (Goniopholis kiplingi, holotype)       

This skull is from a substantial crocodile that dwelled in Purbeck’s Early Cretaceous lagoons. There it waited, motionless, to ambush unsuspecting animals. Fish, turtles and even baby dinosaurs were potential dinners. Peveril Point, southeast Dorset

Natural Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-pliosaur

Geology

c.142 million years old (Purbeck Group)

Raptor dinosaur jaw (Nuthetes destructor)    

This tiny lower jaw is the first raptor dinosaur fossil found in Britain. It belonged to a small dromaeosaur – a group that also included velociraptors.

Durlston Bay, southeast Dorset

Natural Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-Star-ammonite

c.190-195 million years old (Lias Group)

Star ammonite (Asteroceras sp.)

This superb ammonite retains some of its original shell. It shows some of the textures and features the shellfish had in life, such as grooves and growth-lines.

Near Charmouth, west Dorset

Natural Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-Dinosaur-Backbones

Geology

c.189 million years old (Lias Group)

Dinosaur backbones (Scelidosaurus harrisonii)  

These backbones belonged to a famous local plant-eating dinosaur called Scelidosaurus. Adult scelidosaurs were three to four metres long, with long tails and protective body plates.

West of Seatown, southwest Dorset

Natural Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-Flowering-plant-leaf

Geology

c.47-50 million years old (Poole Formation)

Flowering plant leaf

Can you spot where insects nibbled the edges of this leaf? Today’s flowering plants and insects often depend on each other to live. This fossil shows how they needed each other in the past too.
Southeast Dorset

Natural Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-Fish-(Dapedium-sp)

Geology

c.195-200 million years old (Lias Group)

Fish (Dapedium sp.)

Thick scales and bony skull-plates protected this fish from predators. Even if a hunter spotted its slender profile, it could have escaped by changing direction swiftly using its small fins and stout tail.
Lyme Regis, west Dorset

Natural Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-Turtle-shell-(Hyaeochelys-emarginata)

Geology

c.142 million years old (Purbeck Group)

Turtle shell (Hyaeochelys emarginata) ND

You normally see a turtle’s top shell (carapace) from the outside. This shell has been fossilised with its inside showing. There are backbones (vertebrae) still attached to it.
Swanage, southeast Dorset

Natural Dorset

Over 30,000 books cover subjects relating to archaeology, geology, natural history, geography, Dorset writers, social history and local studies. The library also contains a considerable archive of maps and plans, printed ephemera, as well as biological and geological field notebooks, archaeological excavation reports and academic research papers.
dorset-museum-Edward-Cunnington’s-notebooks

Library

Late 19th-early 20th century

Edward Cunnington’s Notebook

Edward Cunnington (1825-1916) excavated around 46 Dorset barrows, including Clandon Barrow near Maiden Castle, in the late 19th century. Cunnington wrote up reports of his finds in this notebook. The 1882 Clandon Barrow excavation is illustrated by pencil drawings and watercolours of his discoveries.

Library
dorset-museum-Origin-of-Species

Library

1859

On the Origin of Species

On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection by Charles Darwin

This rare first edition of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species belonged to James Buckman, a geologist and natural historian who settled in Dorset to farm in 1863. Darwin wrote to Buckman, asking about his latest research. The letter was later bound into the book’s spine.

Library
dorset-museum-Mary-Annings-commonplace-book

Library

1820-1847

Mary Anning’s Commonplace Book

Fossil collector and scientist Mary Anning (1799-1847) handwrote prayers, poems and texts she valued into this unique document, her final notebook. Simple books like this were a way for people to keep copies of their favourite writings.

Library

Dorset people’s lives and beliefs, trade and industry, agriculture, rural crafts, schooling, transport, fishing and smuggling are all reflected in this fascinating collection numbering around 10,000 objects.
dorset-museum-dog-collars

Local History

c.1800-1851

Brass dog collars

Reverend Thomas Warren, the Anglican vicar of Tolpuddle’s St John the Evangelist church, used these collars to identify his dogs. Warren witnessed an agreement over wages between the Tolpuddle labourers and landowners during the 1830s. He then sided with James Frampton, the local landowner who was responsible for the martyrs being arrested.

People’s Dorset
dorset-museum-verwood-jugs

Local History

c.1800-1900

Costrel, Verwood pottery

Verwood produced many ceramic products. Their most famous was the Dorset Costrel – a flask with ear-like lugs, used by labourers for taking cider or cold tea into the fields when working.

People’s Dorset
dorset-museum-Tolpuddle-trade-show-sign

Local History

1857

Tolpuddle trade show sign  

The Fowl and Fatstock Show was a traditional event when farmers came to town to show off their market-ready birds and animals. People would travel from around the area to buy goose or other meat for Christmas.

People’s Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-Deerstalker-hat

Local History

1700-1750

Deerstalker hat

Illicit deer hunting often took place in the evening when men ventured out wearing hats made of straw and bramble strips for camouflage. They also wore thick quilted coats to help protect them from the deer’s antlers, or the gamekeeper and his dogs if they were caught.

People’s Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-Selection-of-Dorset-buttons

Local History

19th century

Selection of Dorset buttons

Dorset buttons were first produced in Shaftesbury in the early 17th century. By the 19th century over 100 different types of button were made in Dorset. These included the High-Top, Dorset Knob, Crosswheel, Blandford Cartwheel and Honeycomb.

People’s Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-The-Dorset-Ooser

Local History

20th century

The Dorset Ooser

Every year Morris dancers use this replica Ooser for their May Day celebrations on a hillside near Cerne Abbas. The monstrous mask has its origins in ancient folklore. This terrifying creature stalked through Dorset towns and villages looking for food and drink from local people and frightening children.
On loan from John Byfleet

People’s Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-moule-earth-closet

Local History

1873

Moule earth closet

Dorchester vicar Henry Moule (1801-1880) worked for better sanitation in the squalid slums of his Fordington parish. He invented this simple but effective composting toilet – a ‘portable commode for everyone’.

People’s Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-Mosaic-fragment-Wimborne-Minster

Local History

Mid-13th century

Mosaic fragment from Wimborne Minster

Saint Cuthburga founded Wimborne Minster around 700 CE as a monastery for monks and nuns.

This mosaic fragment is thought to come from her tomb and shrine in the abbey. It is in the Italian Cosmatesque style used on mosaic pavements and church furnishings from the 12th to 14th century.

People’s Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-Spitfire-goggles

Local History

c.1940-1945

Spitfire windscreen, goggles and microphone

Sgt Kenneth Christopher Holland served with Squadron 152 at RAF Warmwell in Dorset.

On 25 September 1940, flying Spitfire N3173 he was shot down by the rear gunner of a German Heinkel bomber and killed. These items were recovered from the crash site in Somerset.

People’s Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-Mabel-Stobarts-medical-kit

Local History

c.1915

Mabel Stobart’s medical kit

Mabel Stobart (1862-1954) used this medical kit to treat her patients during the First World War. Before the war she had set up a medical training camp in Dorset to teach women to treat the sick and wounded in battle. In 1914 she formed the National Service League and created field hospitals in Belgium and France.

People’s Dorset

Investigate this collection for a unique glimpse into the colourful 19th-century natural world of Dorset and beyond. Highlights include bird skins collected from the Malay Archipelago in the 1850s by Alfred Russel Wallace, who later settled in Poole. There is also an extensive collection of Dorset specimens including mammals and birds, bird eggs, molluscs and around 130,000 insects. The herbarium contains plant specimens collected by John Clavell Mansel-Pleydell during the late 19th century.
dorset-museum-entomology-collection

Natural History

Late 19th century

Helen and Nelson Richardson’s entomology collection    

Helen (c.1855-1936) and Nelson Richardson (1855-1925) collected and documented moths and butterflies (Lepidoptera) on Portland and Purbeck, and discovered a number of new species. These are among a number of specimens collected by the pair that were donated to the Museum.

Natural Dorset
dorset-museum-helen-richardson-watercolour

Natural History

Late 19th century

Watercolour by Helen Richardson

Helen Richardson (c.1855-1936) was an enthusiastic field worker, collecting moths at night on Portland. She illustrated specimens in intricate watercolour paintings – some were reproduced as colour plates in her husband Nelson’s research papers.

Natural Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-bird-skin

Natural History

1850s

Bird skin collected by Alfred Russel Wallace

On Wallace’s trips to the Malaysian islands he collected over 8,000 bird specimens. Studying them helped him develop his theories on evolution

Natural Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-Cyril-Days-butterfly-collection

Natural History

1950s

Cyril Day’s butterfly collection

These are just a small part of Cyril Douglas Day’s (1885-1968) collection of 2,652 insects, representing the wide diversity of species commonly found in Dorset in the mid-20th century.

Natural Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-Great-bustard

Natural History

Date unknown

Great bustard

Great bustards were native to Britain and used to live on parts of Dorset’s open grasslands. By the 1840s hunting and habitat changes had made these large birds extinct in Britain. Great bustards from Russia were reintroduced on to Salisbury Plain each autumn for ten years from 2004. Some of them have wintered on the Dorset coast.

Natural Dorset

The collection includes paintings by Dorset-born artists such as James Thornhill and Alfred Stevens. Other works include 18th-century portraits by visiting painters George Romney and Thomas Gainsborough, and landscapes by Frederick Whitehead, who was drawn to paint the county by his friend Thomas Hardy. There are also a number of paintings by Cornish artist Alfred Wallis, an extensive collection of watercolours by local amateur artist Henry Joseph Moule, and numerous prints representing places and people from across Dorset.
dorset-museum-Rebecca-Steward

Paintings, Prints and Drawings

1783

Rebecca Steward (1766-1859)

Thomas Beach (1783-1806)
Oil on canvas

Artists' Dorset
dorset-museum-Fishing-Boat-with-Two-Masts-and-Yellow-Sails

Paintings, Prints and Drawings

1920s

Fishing Boat with Two Masts and Yellow Sails

Alfred Wallis (1855-1942)
Oil on cardboard

Artists' Dorset
dorset-museum-The-Undercliff-White-Nothe-Dorset

Paintings, Prints and Drawings

1920

The Undercliff, White Nothe, Dorset    

Catherine Ouless (1879-1961)
Oil on canvas

Artists' Dorset
dorset-museum-Dorset-Quarry-Three-Workers

Paintings, Prints and Drawings

1940s

Dorset Quarrymen, Three Workers

Alfred Palmer (1877-1951)
Oil on canvas

Artists' Dorset
dorset-museum-East-Stake-Mill-Dorset

Paintings, Prints and Drawings

Date unknown

East Stoke Mill, Dorset

Frederick William Newton Whitehead (1853-1938)
Oil on canvas

Artists' Dorset
dorset-museum-Thomas-Rackett-the-Younger

Paintings, Prints and Drawings

1768

Thomas Rackett the Younger (1756-1840)

George Romney (1734-1802)
Oil on canvas

Artists' Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-dorset-moule

Paintings, Prints and Drawings

Late 19th century

Watercolours of Dorset landscapes   

Henry Joseph Moule

The first curator of Dorset Museum and a friend of Thomas Hardy, Henry Moule regularly went out into the countryside surrounding Dorchester and further afield to paint. The Museum holds hundreds of his watercolours.

Artists' Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-dog

Paintings, Prints and Drawings

1958

Dog

Elisabeth Frink

Bronze, edition of 4

Artists' Dorset

Dorset Museum started collecting photographs late in the 19th century. Images in the archive date from the earliest days of photography to today. Around 50,000 prints, 20,000 negatives, 12,000 slides and 5,000 glass plates in the collection give us insights into lifestyles, occupations and traditions around the region over time.  Significant photographers featured in the archive include Harry Pouncy, Francis Frith and Charles Cornish-Browne.
Thatching at Grove House

Photography

c.1935

Thatching at Grove House

Taken by M. H. Ouseley

Picture Library
015_Legg of Loders thatching at Grove House

Photography

c.1935

Thatching at Grove House

Taken by M. H. Ouseley

Picture Library
Thatching at Grove House

Photography

c.1935

Thatching at Grove House

Taken by M. H. Ouseley

Picture Library
Mr. Legg of Shipton thatching a rick at Bredy Farm

Photography

c.1935

Thatching a rick a rick at Bredy Farm

Taken by M. H. Ouseley

Picture Library
023_Milking time at Herrison Dairy

Photography

1956

Milking time at Herrison Dairy

Taken L. Frisby

Picture Library
022_Edgar Hawkins milking

Photography

c.1935

Edgar Hawkins milking at Burton Bradstock

Taken by M.H. Ouseley

Picture Library
021_Heads up!

Photography

c.1960

Drink More Milk or from Producer to Consumer

Postcard

Picture Library
020_Cary and Grimsdell Milk Factory, Litton Cheney

Photography

c.1920

Carey & Grimsdell butter factory, Dorchester

Picture Library
019_Collecting milk from Manor Farm, Burton Bradstock

Photography

c.1935

Collecting milk from Manor Farm, Burton Bradstock

Taken by by M.H. Ouseley

Picture Library
018_Street Seller, South Street, Dorchester

Photography

2000

Vegetable Stall, South Street, Dorchester

Taken by M. Collier

Picture Library

The sculpture collection contains around 30 pieces by Elisabeth Frink, who lived and worked in Dorset from 1976 until her death in 1993.  Other sculptors represented include Dorset-born Alfred Stevens, Elizabeth Muntz, who was part of the Chaldon Herring creative community, and Mary Spencer Watson, who worked with local stone and lived and worked near Swanage.
dorset-museum-Horse-and-Rider

Sculpture

20th century

Horse and Rider

Mary Spencer Watson
Glazed ceramic

Artists' Dorset
dorset-museum-Truth-and-Falsehood

Sculpture

c.1857-1875

Truth and Falsehood   

Alfred Stevens
Plaster

Artists' Dorset
dorset-museum-Child-with-Dove

Sculpture

1963

Child with Dove

Elizabeth Muntz
Wood

Artists' Dorset
dorset-museum-Elijah

Sculpture

1938

Elijah

Mary Spencer Watson
Terracotta

Artists' Dorset
dorset-museum-gerenuk

Sculpture

1977

Gerenuk 

John Skeaping
Bronze

Artists' Dorset
dorset-museum-dog-fink

Sculpture

1958

Dog

Elisabeth Frink
Bronze, edition of 4

Artists' Dorset
dorset-museum-Self-Portrait-fink

Sculpture

1987

Self-Portrait

Elisabeth Frink
Bronze, edition of 9

Artists' Dorset
dorset-museum-Dorset-Martyrs

Sculpture

1983

Dorset Martyrs

Elisabeth Frink
Bronze

Artists' Dorset

The Museum holds the world’s largest collection relating to Dorset-born Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) – one of the most important writers of the 19th century. It includes many paper items, together with clothes such as Hardy’s embroidered christening robe, his sister’s stunning red silk bustle dress, and a striped scarf that he lent to his gardener. The core of the collection was gifted to the Museum by the Hardy family in 1937, and the archive was placed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register in 2012.
dorset-museum-thomas-hard-scraf

Thomas Hardy

1920s

Thomas Hardy’s scarf

This scarf is one of the few pieces of Hardy’s clothing that survive. When Hardy died, his wife Florence asked their gardener Bertie Stephens to burn her husband’s clothes on a bonfire. Stephens recalled how ‘all was burnt in her presence except a scarf which she gave me for my use.’

Hardy’s Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-katharine-hardy-red-dress

Thomas Hardy

c.1890

Katharine Hardy’s red dress      

Hardy’s younger sister Katharine (1856-1940) was a schoolteacher and had this dress made in Dorchester. With its luxurious red silk and bustle, it is reminiscent of the dress Tess wears in Tess of the d’Urbervilles when she runs away with her husband Angel Clare after murdering Alec d’Urberville.

Hardy’s Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-thomas-hardy-Kennington

Thomas Hardy

c.1930-1931

Maquette of the Statue of Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) at the Top ‘o Town 

Thomas Hardy
Eric Kennington
Bronze

Hardy’s Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-thomas-hardy-Mitchell

Thomas Hardy

1923-1924

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)     

Maggie Richardson Mitchell
Bronze

Hardy’s Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-thomas-hardy-Reginald-Grenville-Eves

Thomas Hardy

1923

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)     

Reginald Grenville Eves
Oil on canvas

Hardy’s Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-thomas-hardy-perpetual-calander

Thomas Hardy

c.1890

Perpetual calendar   

After Hardy’s first wife Emma died in 1912, Hardy kept his desk calendar set to the date he met her – ‘That never to be forgotten day’. They had grown apart but Emma always supported his writing and Hardy was filled with regret and sadness when she died.

Hardy’s Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-thomas-hardy-pens

Thomas Hardy

1890-1895

Thomas Hardy’s writing pens   

Hardy wrote Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure with these pens, dipping the nibs repeatedly into the inkwell on his desk. He engraved the pens ‘Tess’ and ‘Jude’.

Hardy’s Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-woodlanders

Thomas Hardy

1886-1887

Original manuscript of The Woodlanders   

The Woodlanders is the first novel Hardy worked on in his new study at Max Gate and was partly inspired by the village of Melbury Osmond in Dorset where his mother grew up.

Hardy’s Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-under-the-greenwood-tree

Thomas Hardy

1871

Original manuscript of Under the Greenwood Tree  

Hardy wrote Under the Greenwood Tree in 1871 when he was living at Weymouth and Higher Bockhampton. He set the story in Mellstock, a village he imagined based on real places near his home.

Hardy’s Dorset
dorset-museum-objects-Juno-I-watercolour-by-Thomas-Hardy

Thomas Hardy

1856

Juno I watercolour by Thomas Hardy

Thomas painted his pet rabbit when he was 16. He was interested in art and nature, knew many plants and animals by their country names and cared about how animals were treated. He had other pets when he was older, including a faithful fox terrier called Wessex.

Hardy’s Dorset

Caring for the collections

Textile Conservation

Your support makes a huge difference

Your donations allow us to conserve and research Dorset’s most extensive historical collections – from geology to archaeology, costume to sculpture. In the Museum’s new state-of-the-art Collections Discovery Centre our curators are dedicated to ensuring every object is cared for in the best possible way.