No.1 Gold Hill to become part of Shaftesbury Museum


Once a priest’s house for St Peter’s Church in the 16th century, No. 1 Gold Hill still has a ‘squint’ through the wall to the church. It later became the Sun and Moon Inn, at the heart of Shaftesbury’s market days for more then 200 years. Sir Frederick Treves in his 1906 book; Highways and Byways in Dorset mentions the Inn by name – so it must still have been an inn at this time.
It has most recently been a shop – but in its latest incarnation, it will be re-purposed into an extension for Gold Hill Museum.
Dorset Council has agreed the transformation of Sun and Moon Cottage into a space that will house new exhibitions, an office, and a sales area, enhancing the museum’s capacity for display and storage.
The museum’s trustees, supported by the Shaftesbury and District Historical Society, aim to carry out the expansion with minimal structural changes to the building’s 700 sq ft of space.
Opened in 1957, the museum on Gold Hill currently has eight galleries which tell the story of rural and town life, starting even before Shaftesbury’s notional foundation by Alfred the Great. Highlights of the collection include the unique Byzant, carried during annual celebrations of the securing of the water supply (vital to a hilltop town); Dorset’s oldest fire engine, dating from 1744; fine lace work and costumes; handmade Dorset buttons; and a mummified Dorset cat. Drawing in 18,600 visitors last year. This new development promises to further enrich the cultural landscape of Shaftesbury, offering residents and visitors alike a deeper dive into the town’s storied past.
Gold Hill is, of course, the best known attraction in North Dorset thanks to Ridley Scott – in one of his last pieces for The BV, historian Roger Guttridge took a look at the history of ‘the Hovis Hill’ and the 50th anniversary of the advert in The BV.

Gold Hill Museum is currently closed for winter, but will open for the Shaftesbury Snowdrops event on 10th to 18th February 10.30am to 4.30pm And then every day from Saturday 23rd March

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