THE DORSET County Museum is hoping to introduce a new generation to poet William Barnes after the long awaited refurbishment of a dedicated gallery was completed.

The new look William Barnes Gallery is now open to the public following a two-year project and fundraising effort.

At preview evening ahead of the public opening was attended by more than 80 guests, with visitors coming from Wiltshire, Somerset, Bristol and London as well as Dorset.

Guests also include the Mayor and Mayoress of Dorchester.

Chairman of the William Barnes Society Brian Caddy opened the proceedings, demonstrating the special link between the museum and the society.

Marion Tait thanked all who had supported the project and Bonny Sartin gave a faultless rendition of My Orcha’d in Linden Lea before cutting the traditional style ribbon to declare the newly refurbished gallery open.

For the last two years Marion, honorary curator of the William Barnes Collection and secretary of the William Barnes Society, has been committed to raising the profile of the Dorset Dialect poet and organising fundraising for the refurbishment.

All events were supported by the William Barnes Society, particularly Mr Caddy, Tim Laycock and Devina Symes.

The museum said that without the input from the society the refurbishment would not have happened.

Marion’s vision was to be a story simply told to captivate the interest of the younger generation and introduce people to Barnes.

She aimed to take visitors on a journey from his humble beginnings in a small cob cottage kitchen with open fire, flag stones, stock pot and bread oven to the rich legacy Barnes left including poetry, published books and music.

Her vision also included a school room that visitors could enjoy and where lessons could take place.

This vision has been achieved thanks to the museum maintenance team and to all staff and volunteers who gave their support and expertise in putting the exhibition together.

The gallery is enhanced by the use of photographs and graphics.

Marion said: “Barnes would have been thrilled by the whole gallery, especially the classroom, as Barnes firmly believed in education for all.

“The refurbishments to the gallery have been made possible through fund-raising.

“A huge thank you to all sponsors, local businesses and traders for their continuing commitment to the project.”

For further information about the gallery contact the museum on 01305 756827 or visit