heritage volunteers

Wessex Area Heritage Volunteers are Arts Society members who give their time to help preserve our heritage. They have commitment, discipline, work as a team and find their projects stimulating, rewarding and fun. In Wessex our volunteers support local museums, galleries, historic houses, libraries and archives.

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Museums, galleries, archives, historic houses and libraries all benefit from the time that volunteers give, whether they are working as stewards and guides or undertaking preventative conservation. Other work includes recording, photographing and repacking objects. Without the help of Arts Society volunteers some of these objects would deteriorate to an unrepairable state.

After basic training from professional conservators in various disciplines, volunteers work in teams on a regular basis.

Current Projects include:

100 hearts for 100 years

An exhibition organised by SSAFA to commemorate the centenary of the end of the Battle of the Somme and held in Salisbury Cathedral featured four original WW1 sweetheart pincushions (made by convalescing soldiers and sent home to their loved ones) alongside 100 recreated hearts including these by members of Sarum DFAS:

Salisbury Museum Costume Project

Volunteers from New Sarum and Sarum societies have now started a major project working on the extensive costume collection at Salisbury Museum. Pictured are Pam Balchin, Selina Chudleigh, Caroline Lanyon, and Jill Makepeace-Warne.

Dorset County Museum, Dorchester

Heritage Volunteers from Dorset County DFAS working on the project in the museum library.

Shaftesbury Estate Book Conservation Project

The project at St Giles House continues and, following a recent training session with Caroline Bendix, a group now carry out repair work to the books. This is Group 2 (of 3) which comprises members from Blackmore Vale, Sarum, Wimborne & Blandford and Wylye Valley societies.

Following a recommendation by Allen Weager, Project Leader, Vanessa was delighted to award a Gold Star to Gael Radclyffe acknowledging her hard work on the project.

Past Activities

Past heritage volunteering activities have included: recording the archives at the Bishop's Palace Wells; cleaning and repairing books in the libraries at Longleat and the Beckett Library at Sherborne School; photographing the fan and jewellery collections at the Fashion Museum Bath; stewarding at the Bishop's Palace and other historic houses including working with the BBC Antiques Roadshow; clearing and re packing objects in the attic of Westwood Manor; designing and embroidering bed hangings at Lydiard Park, Swindon; cleaning, conserving and repacking textiles at Dyrham Park for the National Trust and stewarding at Dorchester Museum, 'Dorset Faces' exhibition.

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Poole DFAS have recently completed their mammoth task of making 578 conservation grade protective covers for the historic collection of uniforms held at Bovington Tank Museum. The uniforms date back to WW1 and relate to all the Regiments associated with tanks.

A special presentation event was held for the HV group which the National HV Chairman Juanita Sharman and Wessex Area Chairman Julia Tibbs supported. They were all invited by the Curator of the Tank Museum to go behind the scenes into the store rooms for a guided tour and to see where the uniforms are kept. A special certificate attributing the work to Arts Society Heritage Volunteers was presented.

New projects are being developed by Laura Sweetenham, the Curatorial Assistant. Wessex Area Heritage Volunteers are looking forward to continuing their liaison with the Tank Museum in this 40th anniversary year of volunteering.

Other projects currently benefiting from Arts Society Volunteers in the Area include:

  • Making turkey work chair coverings in the Merchant House, Marlborough as well as stewarding, designing and making replica costumes.
  • Making parasol and wedding dress covers at the Cavalcade of Costume Museum, Blandford Forum.
  • Cataloguing collections of private papers at the Wiltshire History Museum, Chippenham and photographs at the National Monuments Record, Swindon.
  • Cataloguing, photographing and cleaning the medal collection at the Rifles Museum, Salisbury.
  • Making covers for uniforms at the Museum of Army Flying, Middle Wallop and Bovington Museum, Dorset.
  • Cleaning and repairing books at Sherborne Abbey, the library, Wilton House and Duke of Somerset's library at Maiden Bradley.
  • Cataloguing the prints at Dorchester Museum.

If you are interested in training to be a Wessex Area Arts Society Heritage Volunteer or would like further information – please contact your local society or email: