News Archive

Posted: Jul 18, 2018

Wimborne's Priest's House Museum Awarded National Lottery Grant for Revival Project

The museum has been awarded a National Lottery grant of £982,200 to fund improvements.

Museum Director and Chairman

Emma Ayling, Museum Director, and
David Morgan, Chairman of the
Priest's House Museum Trust

The museum has been awarded a National Lottery grant of £982,200 to fund improvements. We will use the grant to enhance the visitor and volunteer experience and ensure that the museum is fit for the challenges of the 21st century. This grant forms part of the museum's £1.6 million Revival Project which will start this autumn and will be completed by spring 2020.

The museum building and adjoining Tourist Information Centre (TIC) building are formed of one original Grade II* listed townhouse. This exciting project will include:

  • improving the visibility of the museum through an enhanced frontage
  • creating a new combined visitor reception, shop, TIC and information point
  • installing a lift, enabling all abilities to access first-floor galleries for the first time
  • updating and upgrading exhibition and display space
  • enhancing the story of the historic townhouse itself by telling the story of the building and the people who have lived in the house, Wimborne and East Dorset
  • establishing new formal and informal learning and community programmes
  • building new opportunities and training for volunteers
  • initiating more outreach programmes to the villages of East Dorset

The National Lottery funding has been awarded through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The museum has committed over £200,000 of its own reserves and the volunteer fundraising team has been successful in achieving a significant proportion of the partnership funding from charitable foundations including Garfield Weston, the Talbot Village Trust and the Valentine Trust; and local councils East Dorset District Council and Dorset County Council.

The local community and local businesses Bloor Homes, Teacher's Building Society and Renaissance Homes have also supported the project.

David Morgan, Chairman of the Priest's House Museum Trust said: "We are delighted to have received the support of the National Lottery for our Revival Project.

The Trust is committed to giving the people of East Dorset a museum of which they can be proud, a place which engages with all sectors of the local community as well as the many tourists who visit our beautiful town. Thanks to HLF and our very generous supporters, we can ensure that the museum will be enjoyed for generations to come.

We still need to raise a further £80,000 in funding and we hope we can do this through grants from trusts and foundations and donations from the community. Our volunteer fundraisers will continue to work hard to achieve this."

Museum Director, Emma Ayling said: "The Trust's vision is the one held by its founder, Hilda Coles, who believed that the museum should be 'a 'live' museum - a centre of education and culture, continually changing its displays and appealing to children as well as to adults’.

We will be asking the community to support us, through volunteering, and there will be many opportunities for people to be involved and to gain new skills. In the meantime, watch this space."

Nerys Watts, Head of HLF South West, said: "Thanks to National Lottery players, the home of the history and story of East Dorset will be fit for the future and for modern audiences. We're delighted to support this project, which will transform the access and facilities of the museum, provide some fantastic opportunities for volunteers and ensure the area's heritage is shared more widely than ever before."

The museum will be repositioned as 'The Museum of East Dorset'. The museum boasts amongst its treasures the most comprehensive Verwood pottery collection in existence, a collection of 350 Valentine cards from the later Georgian to the mid-Victorian period - identified as of national importance - the Dacombe collection of clothes dating from the 1930s through to the 1950s, as well as some rare and significant archaeological artefacts from the Romano-British villa site of Tarrant Hinton.

To donate to the appeal go to our website donations page or our MyDonate page.

For further information, images and interviews, contact Museum Director, Emma Ayling, on 01202 882533 or email

HLF logo


Here you can view past news items.

Summer garden party in the museum's beautiful walled garden.

Jul 22, 2019

Further research to be done on the earliest known TB skeleton in Britain.

Jul 22, 2019

Greendale Construction handed the keys to the Priest’s House Museum at unique event which kick-starts £700k restoration project.

Jul 22, 2019

The museum will be running taster activities in the museum garden.

Jun 21, 2019

The museum is offering behind the scenes guided tours.

May 31, 2019

'Echoes of the Past' is a promenade theatre event commemorating the temporary closure of the museum for refurbishment and development.

May 31, 2019

SISATA and Doppelganger Productions present an outdoor production of 'Feral', a new Gypsy-Folk musical drama on the timeless theme of wanderlust.

May 13, 2019

The museum is holding a family open day exploring 'Your First World War Heritage'.

May 13, 2019

Come and join in the fun with the Little Explorers activity morning.

Mar 25, 2019

Documentary theatre production by State of Play Arts about the impact of the Great War on people living in East Dorset.

Mar 19, 2019

A day of activities for all the family with the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

Feb 18, 2019

Artwork competition launched.

Dec 13, 2018

The museum is offering free entry in the run up to Christmas.

Dec 12, 2018

The museum is hosting two displays to commemorate the end of the first world war.

Nov 23, 2018

Mad Hatters beware! An exhibition at the museum features a wonderful collection of 44 different hats or forms of headwear.

Nov 23, 2018

The Victorian kitchen at the museum will be serving up Christmas Pudding.

Nov 20, 2018

A fun, festive concert with the Dorset Guitar Society.

Nov 15, 2018

A day of events to commemorate the end of the First World War.

Oct 19, 2018

Tivoli Theatre marks 25th anniversary with exhibition.

Oct 19, 2018

A 'spooktacular' family activity day.

Oct 5, 2018

Exciting opportunity for volunteers to help behind-the-scenes at the museum.

Oct 4, 2018

The museum will be visiting Hinton Martell on Thursday 11 October 2018 appealing for information from the time of the first world war.

Oct 3, 2018

The Trust is seeking to appoint up to three new Trustees to join the Trustee Board.

Sep 24, 2018

A talk that scratches the surface of the so-called 'Golden Age' and looks at how real children lived, worked and played.

Sep 9, 2018

The museum has been awarded the Sandford Award for Heritage Education 2018.

Aug 6, 2018

The museum has been awarded a National Lottery grant of £982,200 to fund improvements.

Jul 18, 2018

The Board of Trustees wishes to source an experienced Human Resources consultant/advisor.

Jun 18, 2018

The museum is celebrating Wimborne Minster Folk Festival.

Jun 6, 2018

A nature inspired family activity day.

May 23, 2018

Unfortunately this performance has had to be cancelled.

May 23, 2018

A family activity day to celebrate the Royal Wedding.

Apr 27, 2018

A new film will be screened at the museum.

Apr 23, 2018

A new exhibition at the museum features a wonderful collection of 44 different hats or forms of headwear.

Apr 19, 2018

A new exhibition tells the stories of two Wimborne men killed on the same day at the Battle of Passchendaele.

Apr 18, 2018

The museum's annual ticket offers so much more.

Apr 17, 2018

A fundraising concert for our Revival Project.

Apr 17, 2018

Secondhand book event at the museum.

Apr 4, 2018

'Little Explorers' activity morning for little ones.

Apr 3, 2018

Our Garden Tea Room needs the help of a few more local people.

Mar 23, 2018

Sponsor a Victorian Valentine Card as an unusual Valentine's Day gift!

Feb 13, 2018

Learning Officer (25 hours).

Jan 28, 2018

Help a new project.

Dec 14, 2017

Fun filled family activity day of Christmas themed art and craft.

Dec 7, 2017

Community Fundraising Day on Saturday 9 December.

Dec 4, 2017

Dorset County Council's Historic Environment team will be at the museum on Tuesday 28 November.

Nov 24, 2017

The entrance to the museum is now via the Tourist Information Centre.

Oct 27, 2017

Family activity day on Tuesday 24 October.

Oct 23, 2017

History of the local Ordnance Survey map.

Oct 11, 2017

We would like to hear from people who are researching their families in East Dorset.

Apr 28, 2017

Family friendly fun event.

Apr 27, 2017

Find out how you can get involved.

Apr 21, 2017

Get Creative with Little Explorers at Home

Posted: Jul 22, 2020

Look out for some exciting and creative activities every Tuesday through August.

Donate Your Books

Posted: Mar 9, 2020

Please donate your books to the Priests House Museum second hand book shop. This is a great way to support your local community and all proceeds fund projects within the Museum.