Four museums are swapping objects to tell stories of the region’s wicked past - from grim and gruesome to strange and shocking!

Four museums are swapping objects to tell stories of the region’s wicked past – from grim and gruesome to strange and shocking!

‘Wicked Wessex’ is the theme of the latest objects tour by Wessex Museums – a partnership made up of Dorset County Museum, Poole Museum, The Salisbury Museum and Wiltshire Museum. Each has chosen an item from its collection which best fits the theme.

Due to the Dorset County Museum closure for redevelopment, the Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum, Dorchester has kindly acted as an alternative venue to display the Wicked Wessex objects.

The first of the objects to go on display at the Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum is the Maquette for the Martyrs on loan from the Dorset County Museum.

This is a miniature version of a memorial to the Dorset Martyrs, situated on the South Walks in Dorchester. The full-size statues, which had recently been given Grade II listed status by Historic England, stand at the very place where hundreds of people died on Dorchester’s town gallows. The sculptures were created by Dame Elisabeth Frink in memory of the Catholics who were hanged in the 16th and 17th centuries because of their religion.

Jon Murden, Director of Dorset County Museum said “This is a unique opportunity to see this important piece of art, which led to the installation of a public sculpture in Dorchester, by one of the country’s famous artist and sculptor who lived and worked in Dorset. It would seem fitting to display the maquette in a venue which has seen nearly over two hundred years of justice, injustice, crime and punishment and we are very grateful for Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum for their support in hosting this tour by the Wessex Museums Partnership.”

The objects are currently on display at their home museums, then after three months they will rotate around the others in turn until October 2019.