FUNDING is being sought for work to honour the memory of Dorset parson-poet William Barnes at the Dorset History Centre.

Barnes, who was friends with Thomas Hardy, is known for his dialect poetry, his thatched rectory home at Winterborne Came, in helping establish the County Museum and his campaign to protect Maumbury Rings from being cut through by the railways and, with his wife Julia, in founding a Dorchester school.

Now £35,000 is being requested to improve the collection about Barnes held at the history centre.

Barnes, who was born in 1801, has a society in his name dedicated to him, around a third of the members living in or near Dorchester with the rest across the UK and a few devotees in the USA. A statue to him stands to this day outside St Peter’s Church to recall his importance to the town in the 19th century.

When Barnes died in 1886 he left behind an archive of writings, poems, letters, sermons, woodcuts and engravings to what is now the Dorset History Centre.

Volunteers from the William Barnes Society carried out some work on the archive several years ago but the services of a professional archivist are now required to finish the task, making the material more readily available. It is anticipated that an archivist will be needed for at least a year, possibly two, to complete the cataloguing by 2026.

Some funding has already been achieved by the History Centre with the Williams Barnes Society seeking to add to the total to ensure the work is completed.

Pic  - Barnes statue outside St Peter’s Church Pic – Dorset History Centre in Dorchester where the Barnes collection is held Pic – Barnes Rectory at Winterborne Came