Encouraging children to find out more about the area is one of our key aims. There is a huge range of local stories in our archives and some on permanent display giving glimpses into the lives of inventors, industrialists, farmers, soldiers, domestic workers and more. Plenty to inspire imaginations and be a resource for KS1 upwards (see below).

But learning isn’t just for children! We enjoy welcoming adult groups as well as school visits, and some of our loans boxes are particularly suitable for use by organisations such as memory cafes.

Loans boxes 

We have a number of loans boxes available to any groups and schools within the West Dorset area. They can be hired for £10 and a period of three weeks (or more, if no-one else has requested it during that time). We also ask for a returnable deposit of £50. The loans boxes currently on offer are:

Britain before 1066

C1 - assemblageFossil Handling Boxes – 3 boxes of fossils (Box A, Box B, Box C)  from Horn Park Quarry, Beaminster with detailed notes and photographs and links to Palaeomaps. An overview of the collection can be found in the Teachers’ Resources Pack.

KS1: As well as handling fossils why not request the Mary Anning story sack which has books and items relating to her lifesee the Story Sack List for more details.

Archeological BoxEarly History Resources: There are two separate boxes and folders with objects and photographs of the Neolithic, Iron and Bronze Ages and a separate one for the Romano British period from the South Dorset Ridgeway.  Click on the titles to see a list of items that can be borrowed.

1: Neolithic – Iron Age                      2: Romano-British

The Neolithic to Iron Age and Romano-British guides provides background to the loans boxes and the  Teacher’s Kit has lots of ideas for early history activities on the Pre-historic, Iron Age, Roman, Saxons to the present day.

Links: The BBC have some useful offerings for the different key stages:




Life in the Past (KS1)

Jacobs LadderToys and Games – A variety of games played in the past, e.g. Jacobs Ladder, Marbles. See the Toys and Games List for more details.

Homes – What did people have in their homes in the past . See the Home Items List for more details.

Beaminster School ChildrenSchools – Try on clothes similar to those worn in Victorian times and experience what children used in schools before computers. See the Schools in the Past List for more details.

Jobs – What sort of jobs did people do in the past? See the Jobs in the Past List for more details of what can be borrowed.

Local History Study (KS2)

Slape Mill, NetherburyFlax & Hemp Industry: a new addition to our collection with both old and contemporary objects – Flax & Hemp Loans Box 1 and 2.

Britain after 1066

Tudors: a box containing clothes, objects and pictures – Tudor Loans Boxes 1 & 2 List.

World War 2:  includes objects, music on CDs, examples of WW2 art, photographs, WW2 Prisoner of War experience at Parnham, etc.  –  WW2 Loans Boxes 1 & 2 List.

We also have items from Before and After WW1Post WW2 Items (1946-1948)

The 1950s and 1960s: Objects include  Fairy soap, motorcycle helmet, pre-decimal coins, photographs of old vehicles,  magazines and newspapers –  1950s and 1960s – Loans Box & Magazine Folder List.

Creative Literacy

Victorian Valentine Cards Resource Pack (returnable deposit of £20) – a CD and printed pack with teaching ideas.

Please email us if you would like to borrow any of these loans boxes.