|Open:||Old School Room, in the Abbey Guest House, Saturday 7th April to 30th September, 2.00 - 5.00 pm daily.|
|Cloister Gallery, in the Abbey, 1st January to 31st December, 8.00 am - 6.00 pm (summer) / 8.00 am - dusk (winter)|
The Museum has displays in the oak-panelled, 16th century Old School Room in the Abbey Guest House and in the Abbey’s Cloister Gallery. The intention is for these displays 'to be a guide to the past and present of the village of Dorchester-on-Thames and its environs', bearing in mind that the area has been continuously occupied by man for the last 6000 years.
We have simulated the look of the Old School Room by furnishing it with school desks, each with a commentary and items relevant to schooling from the 17th century to WWII. Around the panelled walls we have display boards and artifacts illustrating the Neolithic Big Rings, the famous Iron Age oppidum (the Dyke Hills), and comparisons between Dorchester today with life in the 19th century. New displays on the Roman, Saxon and medieval periods are in preparation, and a touchscreen is gradually being loaded with a wide range of historical information. There is also a classified archive of photographs, published articles and original documents about Dorchester.
The award-winning Cloister Gallery display, described as the best of its kind in the country, tells the story of the Abbey building through a collection of carved and moulded medieval stonework supported by a vivid, written commentary.
The Museum has 'registered' status with the MLA and the Management Committee are now working towards the new 'accreditation' standard.
The Old School Room also houses the Abbey's shop. Although small, the shop sells an interesting selection of Shire books, locally made crafts, hand-painted cards, stationery and a wide range of souvenirs to suit all pockets. Books include two of the Abbey's own publications: Heavenly Cakes, a book of cake recipes used in the Tea Room, and Dorchester Abbey: Church and People 635 – 2005, edited by Kate Tiller.