Discover the amazing story of this beautiful village and travel through time from it’s foundation 3,000 years ago to the present at Dunster's new community Museum.
Explore the village's vibrant history, hear stories of Viking raids and bloodshed in the Civil War, tales of romance in the time of Lords and Ladies and see how history has shaped this idyllic place.
See some fantastic finds that the Museum has collected, such as this intact Medieval tile dug up when Robin was doing some double digging in his veg patch in Park Street!
Great plans for the Museum
The Museum is a work in progress, with the help of the local community the aim is to create a 21st Century Museum and Community Centre specifically dedicated to the village and people of Dunster. A Heritage Lottery Grant application has been submitted to double the exhibition space.
The unique doll collection, the largest outside the V&A, was started by Mrs Mollie Hardwick in her Dunster cottage in 1957. Failing health had prevented her from getting about or travelling abroad, so the world and its dolls came to her as relatives and friends collected them on their travels.
The Dolls Collection opened in 1971 and since then many more dolls have been added. There are now thousands of dolls spanning different time eras, cultures and manufacturers. There are Artists’ and Fashion Dolls and a unique collection of 20 “Sasha” Dolls in 1913 period dress, and the Bristol Red Cross Dolls. The collection is always growing so there are likely to be many new additions and faces if you have been before!
Dunster Memorial Hall
Since 1921, Dunster Memorial Hall has been at the centre of village life. Given to the village by Alexander Luttrell for meetings, activities, parties, & events in remembrance of those from the village who served and those who lost their lives in the First World War. It was the prime meeting place for villagers and it has served the community well for many years. It now houses the new Dunster Museum, which has big plans for expansion, a large Doll Collection (the largest outside the V&A), a Snooker Room and other community facilites.
The Memorial Hall is situated in the High Street near the Yarn Market. It is open
11-3pm most days between April and October. It is entirely run by volunteers.
Dunster Museum - Current exhibitions
There are 3 special exhibitons:
- a First World War Centenary exhibition;
- historic images of the streets of Dunster. Have a go at spotting the difference between the 'then and now' pictures; and
- an insight into the social history of Dunster, focussing on the family history of 2 great Dunster families - the Lamacraft and the Sparkes.
Time Team Dig Village - Upcoming exhibition
Time Team chose Dunster as its first Dig Village because of its rich history. Time Team have been to the village several times and dug a number of test pits. The Museum will be developing an exhibition in association with Time Team using their footage and analysis of the finds, as well as the stars of the show - a sample of some of the finds themselves.
Time Team returned over the May 2015 Bank Holiday and with the help of a small army of village volunteers dug more pits in search of the cloisters of the Benedictine Priory, Dunster's earliest origins at Gallox Bridge and St Thomas Street (where the medieval harbour may have stood), and to understand how extensive Medieval Dunster might have been. Follow the link to see the 8 minute Teaser trailer for this season's dig: https://www.youtube.com
So did Time Team find anything?
All pits found a wealth of finds, which are all with the Time Team for analysis. The top 2 photos show a piece of Medieval pottery that came from the pit in search of the Cloisters. The photo top left shows the piece as it came out of the ground, dug up by Jeni, and on the right, cleaned up by Biddy to show its profile, and perfectly shot by Martin. Bottom left the pit it came from, and bottom right Stewart Ainsworth and Tim Taylor being filmed discussing what was found.
The Cloistors pit was the only pit to find standing archaeology. Two in-situ walls were found, on one side of one wall can be seen extensive burning. One suggestion was that the building was raised to the ground during the siege of Dunster Castle during the Civil War in 1650. However these walls are laid over rubble, so the Team are not quite there in getting to the bottom of the Cloister mystery. Time Team are hoping to come back in the Autumn to dig a big trench. Watch this space for details, and how you can get involved in the dig!
The Memorial Hall also offers a range of community facilities, including:
- a large committee room for meetings, parties etc with kitchen facilities
- spaces for local arts and crafts exhibitions
- a recently refurbished Victorian Snooker Room
- free wi-fi
- a kitchen and accessible toilet
- ATM facility in the front of the building
Call 01643 821493 if you are interested in hiring any of these facilities.