Fish, Chips And Quiz Will Fund Shaftesbury Museum Enhancement

Gold Hill Museum’s meeting and venue space is underused and Chairman, Elaine Barratt, is keen to encourage greater use of the charity’s Garden Room.

Now the Museum team is planning a quiz night and supper, to raise the funds needed to make the facility suitable for more Shaftesbury residents. ThisIsAlfred went to visit.

You have to know where you’re heading if you’re looking for the Museum’s Garden Room. You’ll pass down corridors and through three doors to reach the light, airy space at the back of the building. If you don’t know the room by name, it’s the area where the Tibetan Monks displayed their sand Mandala last summer.

Elaine Barratt

“It’s a lovely space with a fabulous view,” said Elaine, as she gestured towards the green slopes outside the large windows. The views extend out past Gold Hill Museum’s tranquil gardens towards Melbury Hill. “We’re very keen for people to use it for events. We’ve got a couple of people booked in for the Fringe,” she said.

Each Garden Room booking helps to fund the town’s much-loved museum, which is staffed entirely by volunteers. But few groups currently book the space. “Julian Richards meets regularly on a Tuesday with his archaeology group. The Civic Society hired it just after Christmas for their AGM. It’s used occasionally, but not enough,” Elaine added.

You might assume that this room is used only in relation to historic or archaeological groups, but Elaine says that anybody can make a booking for public or private events. “We’ve had a christening party here in the past, so any social occasion is fine. We can have 36 sitting at tables, 48 sitting in rows and 60 standing. That’s the official capacity.”

There are facilities on site. “There was only ever room for one toilet but it has disabled access. The kitchen has everything you might need for refreshments. It has got an oven that you can heat things in,” said Elaine.

Previously the Museum has had to decline some potential Garden Room bookings because performers didn’t have insurance in place for their events but Elaine says they have now arranged cover. “We had an issue in the past with our public liability insurance not covering performers during Shaftesbury Fringe. But we’ve addressed that. And so hopefully we’ll get a lot more people using it, because it’s an ideal space for someone who wants to do a poetry reading or sell their book.”

The expanse of glass that gives the room its natural light and its views over the green slopes can make the space a little echoey. So the Museum wants to fit an induction loop, which will help some locals who are hard of hearing. “People with hearing aids do find the acoustics in here quite difficult, apparently. One of our previous stewards wouldn’t come to any social events here because of the acoustics. When there were a lot of people talking he couldn’t hear properly.”

Elaine hasn’t had quotes for the equipment but she’s got a rough idea of cost. “We’ve asked our museums advisor and she knows one that was put into a similar space. That was about £500 pounds,” said Elaine.

Gold Hill Museum is hosting a quiz to raise cash for the hearing loop. “We have a quiz planned on Friday 22nd February. We’re holding the quiz at the Heritage Suites in Bell Street – the Masonic Lodge. It’s 7pm for 7.30pm,” said Elaine. “It’s there because our Garden Room isn’t big enough to have enough people to make a quiz viable.” And of course, not everyone will be able to hear the questions in the Garden Room, as it currently stands.

“It’s going to be a fish and chip quiz,” added Elaine. “It’s £10 and the food is included. We’re asking people to make teams of up to six. But if people can’t do that, then we’ll try and get them together in teams. People do need to book in advance because obviously for catering for fish and chips, we need to know how many to order.”

Even though this is a Gold Hill Museum fundraiser, Elaine says that it won’t be a history quiz! “Definitely not. It’s going to be very much a broad spectrum of questions.” You can book your tickets or book the Garden Room by emailing enquiries@goldhillmuseum.org.uk.