Latest News

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

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