A SPECIAL lecture to help bring three valuable paintings to Dorset takes place tomorrow.

As part of Dorset County Museum's bid to save the paintings for Dorset, art historian Gwen Yarker will be giving a free lecture at the museum.

Gwen will be talking about the Reverend Thomas Rackett, the most important of the family trio painted by artist George Romney in 1768.

She will reveal the results of her recent research into a life which spanned the rise of the industrial revolution - a time of great change, discovery and social upheaval.

As Rector of Spetisbury for almost 60 years, Thomas Rackett cared for his parishioners but also kept a house in London which he often visited.

There he attended meetings of the many learned societies to which he belonged. He was a distinguished antiquary, natural historian, geologist, artist, numismatist and empiricist and is of immense importance to Dorset and to Dorset County Museum.

The museum already has a range of material relating to Rackett including a collection of coins, drawings, domestic items, archive material and his own field research notes.

Involved in scientific enquiry, he pioneered discoveries of archaeology, geology and natural history in Dorset and the South West, recording, drawing, publishing and lecturing about the world around him.

Rackett also contributed to the major publication of Hutchins's History of Dorset, still the primary source of reference for students of Dorset today.

A museum spokesman said: "Thomas Rackett was an enlightenment figure and Gwen's talk will show how much he influenced collectors in the county and provided a benchmark for the development of museums such as ours during the 19th century."

All are welcome to this free lecture to be held in the Victorian Hall of the museum where all three portraits are currently on display.