Gold, Oak and Adventure – News from the Museum

News of a few current happenings at Poole Museum might cheer the gloomy days of winter. The first is a free talk at the Museum on 25th February at 2.00pm by David Dawson of the Wiltshire Museum, Devizes. Gold from the Time of Stonehenge will outline the story of the World Heritage Site and its ritual landscape and feature the remarkable craftsmanship of objects found in the burials of chieftains, important women and priests who used the area for their ceremonies. Many of the objects discussed are on display at the Wiltshire Museum, home of the best Bronze Age collections in Britain. Booking is essential. To secure your place, please contact: and search under Poole.

Books for Boys: Heroism, Empire and Adventure at the Dawn of the First World War is a new exhibition running at the Museum until Sunday 23rd April which celebrates a golden age of books for children in the decades leading up to the war. In particular, it considers the influence of the stories of the time on the young men who so readily volunteered in 1914. There is also a special event for World Book Day on 3rd March. For more details see: .

mermanLastly – it’s back! The rudder of the Swash Channel wreck has returned to Poole from its conservation process in York and is now installed in the Museum. I would like to say it’s impossible to miss but actually that’s exactly what I did, wandering past it with my mind on something else. The massive piece of oak stands on the ground floor near the entrance, opposite the log boat. With a cross section of about 48cm x 34cm and a height of 4m to 5m, its top is above first floor level. Also on display nearby is a carving of a merman from above one of the gun ports of the vessel. This is a strangely androgynous figure with the body of a mermaid and the head of a man with beard, moustache and helmet, just one of a number of carvings retrieved from the wreck site.

rudder-head-1Looking down at the rudder from the first floor you get a better impression of the sheer size of the vessel, and yet this is only a section of the piece. The whole rudder is nearly twice as tall at over 8m. The most striking feature, however, is the larger than life-sized carved head on the top. The face is of a man of middle years, bold and tough, with the flamboyant moustache and long curls of the period and his eyes rolled upwards as if scanning the sails and the sky. It’s tempting to think that it might be the portrait of a real person, perhaps the Dutch owner of the ship, revealed once more after lying on the bottom of the sea, staring blindly out for nearly 400 years.

For more about the ship, see ‘Poole and the Swash Channel Wreck’ on this blog.



A Double for September

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Society’s new season starts not just with one but with two talks.  Following her fascinating tour around the ceramic embellishments of Bournemouth’s buildings, Jo Amey will take us on a similar tour round Poole’s architectural ceramic heritage and this time we won’t have to stir a step! Tiles and Terracotta: Ceramic features in Poole Buildings is on 16th September at 7.30 pm. This is a joint event with the Dorset Architectural Heritage Week so just for this time it’s no visitors please (just members and DAHW attendees).

Thumbs up from Billy Bragg for the John Rede talk

Thumbs up from Billy Bragg for the John Rede talk

Our second talk,  John Rede, the Levellers & the Battle for Poole 1647-1651 on Saturday 26th September at 2.30 pm is a special event run jointly with the Levellers’ Association.  Writer, broadcaster and activist, John Rees, will take the audience back over 350 years to a time when the country abounded in new political ideas. The Governor of Poole was Col. John Rede, a charismatic soldier whose radical beliefs and revolutionary associates began to raise alarm in the heart of the Poole establishment. When they petitioned Parliament for his removal, the stage was set for a dramatic confrontation between Rede and George Skutt, the man who planned to take over as Governor.  (This talk is now fully booked. Wed 23rd Sept.)



Civil War Day

Catch a glimpse of life in the 17th century this Saturday 20th September at Poole Museum’s Civil War Day. Themed activities, re-enactments and demonstrations will be taking place at Scaplen’s Court (opposite the Museum, 4, High Street) between 11 am and 3 pm and entry is free.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs a Civil War garrison town Poole played an important local part in the conflict, holding out for Parliament even when most of Dorset had been taken by the Royalists. In 1643, the King’s forces tried to take the town and there was a dramatic skirmish in front of the towngate (near the site of the present railway crossing). Soldiers from Poole took part in the siege of Corfe Castle and the capture of Wareham as well as carrying out several successful raids on Royalist bands. Scaplen’s Court was then the George Inn and probably accommodated some of the troops, as graffiti on one of the old fireplaces suggests.

See the world of 400 years ago – the world of the Swash Channel wreck – brought back to life for the day.


Burton Bradstock – next Logboat session

BBYou are advised to book early for Poole Museum’s next logboat session, on Thursday 15th May at 7.30 pm, offering a fascinating blend of traditional English folk and jazz.

Burton Bradstock is the stylistic alter ego of the multi-instrument musician and composer Jimmy Cannon and was created along with his debut album, All Upon A Lovely Summer’s Day, which recasts English folk songs from the early to mid-nineteenth century into the modern jazz vernacular. A native of Cornwall, Bradstock is an accomplished saxophonist who has toured and performed with Sir Tom Jones, The Pasadena Roof Orchestra, The Commitments and The Syd Lawrence Orchestra. As a member of staff at London Centre of Contemporary Music (LCCM), he teaches songwriting and performance courses, and is a regular visiting tutor at Junior Trinity and Tech music schools.

In All Upon A Lovely Summer’s Day, Bradstock successfully marries his love and practice of jazz with the nostalgia of his childhood; combining the simple and well-loved melodies of English folk songs such as ‘Salisbury Plain’, ‘The Ashgrove’, ‘Early One Morning and ‘John Barleycorn’ with intricate rhythms and contemporary harmonies.

Don’t miss the next session in this excellent series of musical offerings. Click: and search for Burton Bradstock to book your place.





Hattie Briggs

HBCome along to the next logboat session at the Museum on Thursday 17th April at 7.30 pm (doors open 7.00) and enjoy the songs of Hattie Briggs. A rising star on the UK folk scene, Hattie is a singer/songwriter sharing her time between Oxford and Stroud.  She has been singing for as long as she can remember and released her debut EP, “My Shepherd’s Hut” in November 2013. A natural and sensitive performer with a unique, unaffectedly expressive voice and style, her songs are crafted with a maturity that belies her twenty years. Hattie is a finalist of the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards Go to: to book your place.

Maritime History Day


Pirates, the slave trade, oceanic exploration and the East India Company are among the topics covered in a maritime history day at Poole Museum on Saturday 5th April, organised by the South West Maritime History Society.


10 00   Museum opens, register,  coffee 

10 30   Welcome to Poole and Introduction.

10 40   Kevin Patience [ex East African Colonial, steam & maritime engineer, diver, wreck explorer] ‘Send a gunboat – looking at Zanzibar, the Slave trade & Royal Navy   on East African coast  ‘   

11 40   Nigel Pearce [ex oceanographer, expedition doctor & retired GP] ‘The South Atlantic, St Helena, The Atlantic Slave Trade and Western Cape Province S.A.’

12 40 – 14 00   Lunch (not included).  Poole Quay / The Museum café.

14 00    Tom Wareham [curator of the Museum of London Docklands]  ‘The pirate Captain Kidd & his influence on the East India Company’

15 00     John Dinley FRCS, PhD, [retired orthopaedic surgeon, marine scientist, deep blue researcher] ‘The Royal Research Ships brought up to date’. Including excellent video clips.

16 00 -16 20    Review, wind down and depart.

Cost, just £10.

Please reply to Dr Nigel  Pearce, 91 Orchard Avenue, Parkstone, Poole BH14 8AH Tel. 01202 745573 giving your name, address, telephone number and e-mail address and enclosing a cheque (made payable to the South West Maritime History Society).
or e-mail: with your application and pay on the day.





Poole Open – Coming Soon

cropped-logboat.jpgFrom next week, Poole Museum will be launching the Poole Open, an exhibition of art reflecting the themes of the Museum collections. The 70 or so works on display were selected from over 200 entries submitted by artists across the country in a variety of media, including paintings, sculpture, textiles, prints and photographs. Some pieces relate to the logboat, industry, trade or ceramics and some are based on objects found in Poole.

Cockerel dish2Many of the works are grouped in the main exhibition areas while others can be found throughout the museum close to the relevant objects and displays. Come and track them down and see how the artists have interpreted their chosen themes. The exhibition is open from 12th March to 5th May.