Minette Walters Talk

Minette Walters is a long-term resident of Dorset and the author of a series of novels that have sold over 25 million copies.  It was her Dorset surroundings, a more particularly rumours of a plague pit close to her home that prompted her to move from contemporary to historical fiction.  The Last Hours was published in 2017.  A generous ‘thank you’ is inscribed to Dorset History Centre which also serves as a useful signpost to anyone wishing to research the history of the county.


Minette appeared before a packed audience at DHC and in conversation with Carola Campbell, chairman of DAT, she explained her reasons for choosing an historical theme and the level of detail that she had researched when considering her characters and the medieval world they inhabited.


The Black Death, which forms the backdrop to the novel devastated the country leaving as few as 10% of the population alive.  It is recorded as having come ashore in Weymouth, hence the very particular connection to Dorset’s history.  In a wide-ranging discussion, Minette and Carola discussed the history of the Plague, characters from the novel, particularly the female protagonists, and the impact of the disease which left uninhabited villages, crops unharvested and large, unmanaged herds of animals roaming the land.


A long series of questions from the audience followed.  A second historical novel will appear later in 2018, so we look forward to seeing which period and theme Minette will take as her subjects.


DAT would like to thank Minette Walters for providing a very entertaining and enjoyable evening.

Poole Power Station


The latest by purchase by the DAT Emergency Purchase Fund are some photographs of Poole Power Station at the end of its construction in 1950. The black and white photos include internal views of the boilers and control room. Poole Power Station was a coal fired power station constructed between 1946 and 1950 in Hamworthy. It was demolished between 1993 and 1994. More detail at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poole_Power_Station.  The collection reference number is D-2858.

Tyneham Village Talk

It was a mild October evening when a packed house gathered at the Priest’s House Museum in Wimborne to listen to Lynda Price give a fascinating talk on the lost village of Tyneham.  Lynda has worked at Tyneham since 2004 and is responsible for all the interpretation visitors encounter when they visit as well as the restoration of Tyneham Farm.  Using images purchased jointly by the MoD and Dorset Archives Trust, now preserved at Dorset History Centre, she give a glimpse into a lost world.  Lynda has used a range of sources as well as photographs such as Lillian Bond’s diaries and has a put together a range of exhibitions and displays at Tyneham to help the public get a better understanding of this iconic village.

Using a wide range of photos and anecdotes the audience were taken through the story of the village through its evacuation in 1943 and up to the present day.  It is always a delight to hear a knowledgeable and interesting speaker and it is wonderful to know that the Dorset History Centre supported by the Dorset Archives Trust is able to save these records for future generations

History Centre Shopping List

Here at the DAT we love to support our friends at the History Centre, with things that make it easier for them to share our love of Dorset history with everyone – so we asked them to make a shopping list of things they would like and this is what they came up with:

Funding a school trip £80 per trip


An artist to work with a development group to design a template for responding to a document using the visual arts – £1200

Digital microform reader£2150 or £3750

Conservation Work Station – Hot Air Pencil – £299.50

Microscope Digital Kit – £289.05

Dial Micrometer – £152.37

3m x 2m wall mounted BeamWall for the conservation of maps and oversized paper items. – £10,000

Complete digitisation of Herbert Collection – £25,000 main collection – £10,000 portraits

Lenses for the Nikon camera – £300 – £1,000

A lot of these things are very technical bits of equipment for preserving documents and archives that could be just falling apart in front of us.

The Archives Trust are delighted to say that as a result of our fundraising efforts we have already agreed to fund 5 school trips and give £1,000 towards some of the equipment needed.  If you would like to donate to help us fund the rest, you can donate here or get in touch.

DAT Summer Gala

DAT SUMMER GALA EVENT AT THE TITHE BARN HINTON ST. MARY STURMINSTER NEWTON (by kind permission of Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Pitt-Rivers).


The wonderful setting of the Tithe Barn, at Hinton St Mary set the scene for this year’s Summer Gala.

After a glass of fizz with strawberries and shortbread; the background live music being  provided by  members of the Wessex Youth Orchestra around 60 guests took their seats for this year’s Summer Lecture which was introduced by the Dorset Archives Trust Patron, Kate Adie.

The guest speaker for this year’s summer event was James Grasby, Curator of the National Trust and his lecture was  entitled Thomas Hardy and Sir Edward Elgar- Curating Lives.  A thought provoking and often humorous  talk followed with James  taking the audience through the  birthplaces of both Hardy and Elgar and indicating that their genius perhaps started at these places; both of these properties now in the care of the National Trust.  Elgar loved his birthplace and wanted  it to be maintained after his death whereas Hardy, James stated, did not want anyone to see his.

James discussed  what might have been the other  circumstances  and aspects that fuelled and inspired them both to reach the great levels they did in their respective fields. He  concluded by  illustrating  how the National Trust curate the lives of such famous people and felt that the public wanted to experience the spaces in which these gifted people achieved their masterpieces.  He said that by curating these properties in such a way that visitors left feeling  that they too could be creative in some way or encourage someone else to be creative then the  National Trust had created its aim.

Hardy’s birth place  is at  Higher  Bockhampton, Dorchester   and his home was at Max Gate, Dorchester, and Elgar’s birthplace is at Lower Broadheath,  Worcester.

DAT Purchases part of Battens Archive

This archive is part of a larger Batten’s collection purchased by Somerset Heritage Centre.  The smaller, Dorset element of the archive was in turn acquired thanks to DAT’s Emergency Purchase Fund.  The collection which consists of several hundred documents contains some really interesting early items – written in Latin and dating back to the eras of Henry VI, Henry VII and Elizabeth.  The archive is typical of some of the fascinating material that is sometimes contained within the archives of solicitors’ firms, of which Dorset History Centre has many.  The Batten’s archive is now safely stored within DHC’s and has been assigned the reference D/BTT.

New Purchase by DAT

Two albums kept by a Mildred Baker of Lennox Street Weymouth dated “1899” and a note states “Age 8”. The second album has an address in Ashley Road Parkstone (near Poole) which has been crossed through and the Lennox Street Weymouth address added again, dated “March 27th 1900”.

The pages comprise a lovely mixture of nature notes, detailing the names of plants and from where they were obtained, a variety of plant specimens affixed (usually by glue, larger ones with tape) and the occasional watercolour drawing or photograph. There are numerous visits to South Dorset and in particular the coastal areas. Other trips further afield are noted including a visit to London, and in particular the Zoo with photographs and several parrot feathers which were picked up and carefully inserted. Many of the Dorset journeys were carried out on bicycles or on walks with her parents, both of whom also seem to have had a keen interest in botany. Tales of their journeys are also included. There is a note of taking tea with “Mr and Mrs Bowles Barrett he is a great botanist and is going to help me” [probably William Bowles Barrett, Lawyer & Botanist, 1833-1915].

A third album is similarly bound in green cloth, and a note inside states “Barbara Baker Witchampton Rectory April 15th 1912 aged 10”, which may give us a clue to the original owner as a Reverend E.W. Baker (assisted by Lord Alington) erected the first Village Hall in Witchampton in 1924, so Mildred and Barbara Baker may have been his children? The third book follows a similar pattern, and is about half full. It breaks at one point for several years (until 1917) when she notes that she had been away at school in Bristol as well as bemoaning the difficulty of walking the coastal path at Portland due to the war. Finally, the last few pages note a different name (“Belinda Parham 3 Arboretum Rd Edinburgh Age 9”) with similar specimens collected during Spring 1949. It is unknown what relation this contributor is to the Baker girls.

A photograph of a young girl is also included and may possibly be one of the Baker sisters. Also three associated letters comprising 1934 2pp from Gerald Allen, Bishop of Sherborne regarding “..your husband’s illness”, 1911 1pp from Frederick Ridgeway, Bishop of Kensington and 1913 2pp from Charles Robertson Honey.

Poole Borough Archive Project Event

Cllr Xena Dion, Mayor of Poole & Cllr Mohan Iyengar beiing shown documents from the archive by Katherine Kinrade, Project Archivist

The Dorset History Centre held a reception on 29th of March to celebrate the completion of the Poole Borough Project.  This significant project catalogued over 1600 boxes of parchment and paper spanning 800 years.  A tremendous effort which included the creation of a digital catalogue, conservation of documents where needed, and the repackaging of all the boxes for storage in the History Centre’s climate controlled strong rooms.  This has ensured the preservation and accessibility of Poole Borough’s archival history.

I was very privileged to join these celebrations representing the Dorset Archives Trust (DAT).  DAT are proud to be one of the organisations along with The National Archives, which provided funds for this project. Other attendees included the Mayor of Poole, Councilors from Poole Borough, Poole historians, volunteers from the project and staff from the History Centre.



Poole’s original Coat of Arms ca. 1563 based on a seal from the late 1300’s

The event showcased a selection of items from the archive, including the founding Longespee Charter dating from 1248 down the timeline to a letter to the Mayor in the early 1960s.   Also on display was the full archive catalogue which can now accessed over the Internet.  The project archivist Katherine Kinrade gave a fascinating presentation on the work of the project and anecdotes on the 15,000 items held in the archive.  A delightful afternoon enjoyed by all, the only sad part was saying goodbye to Katherine who has done such a sterling job as Project Archivist.  We wish her all the best for the future!


Carola Campbell

Dorset Archives Trust