Museums in Dorset

Sutton Poyntz Pumping Station, Sutton Poyntz, Weymouth, Dorset

In 2006, Sutton Poyntz Pumping Station celebrated 150 years of supplying water to Weymouth. Occupation of the site can be traced back 10,000 years and the museum describes how water has influenced life since that time. The museum also contains one of Dorset’s three Industrial Ancient Monuments. Admission is free but by appointment only.

3 Trinity Street, Weymouth, Dorset

This is one of Weymouth’s few remaining Tudor buildings and it is furnished in the style of an early 17th century middle class family home. Guided tours are available. The museum, which is run by Weymouth Civic Society, is open Tuesday to Friday afternoons between June and September and on the afternoon of the first Sunday of the month between October and May. Admission charges apply.

217 Wakeham, Portland, Dorset

Sunday to Thursday, 10.30am to 4.00pm

Portland Museum in Dorset, UK is located in Wakeham, above Church Ope Cove, which was the setting for Thomas Hardy’s novel ‘The Well Beloved’. Exhibitions cover shipwrecks, smuggling, fossils, the Royal Manor of Portland and Dr Marie Stopes – founder of the museum in 1930 and the pioneer of birth control.

There is an admission charge for adults but concessions apply and children under 5 may enter for free.


Tolpuddle, near Dorchester, Dorset

The museum recounts the story of the six agricultural workers transported to Australia in 1834 after forming a trade union. Follow the Martyrs’ fate by taking an exciting voyage of discovery via the interactive multi-media screens. It is open on Tuesday to Saturday from April until October and Thursday to Saturday from November until March. It is also open on Bank Holiday Mondays but is closed for two weeks over Christmas/New Year. Admission is free.


The Keep, Bridport Road, Dorchester, Dorset

The Keep is a modern military museum with computers and creative displays to tell the stories of courage, humour, tradition and sacrifice of those who served in the regiments of Devon and Dorset for over 300 years. The museum is open from April to September on Monday to Saturday and also on Sunday during July and August. From October to March it is open on Tuesday to Saturday. Admission fees are charged.

Bridge Street, Lyme Regis, Dorset

This museum is located in a beautiful building overlooking the sea and it tells the story of Lyme Regis through the use of award-winning displays about the history of Lyme Regis and the Cobb, its geology, fossils, literary connections and famous people. The museum is open daily from April to October, and at weekends and during school holidays from November to March. There is an admission charge for adults but concessions apply and accompanied children may enter for free.


High West Street, Dorchester, Dorset

Open daily from July to September and Mondays to Saturdays between October and June.

This museum has galleries on Dorset’s archaeology, wildlife, geology and local history brought to life with free audio guides, interactive displays and films. It contains dinosaur footprints, Roman mosaic flooring and a reconstruction of Thomas Hardy’s study. The museum is open daily from July to September and Mondays to Saturdays between October and June.

South Street, Bridport, Dorset

Discover Bridport’s unique history from the Romans to rope making by visiting the Bridport Museum, which is located in a beautiful Tudor building. It is open from Monday to Saturday between April and October. There is an admission charge for adults and a small charge for unaccompanied children; accompanied children may enter for free.

Whitcombe Road, Beaminster, Dorset

Beaminster Museum is housed in the old Congregational Chapel and its displays explain the history of the town and the surrounding villages. Exhibitions also cover the archaeology and agriculture of Beaminster as well as the people who lived there. The museum is open from April to the end of September on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays. There is a small admission charge for adults; concessions apply and entry for children is free.


Sturminster Newton, Dorset

This is a small, local museum located in a former Workhouse Chapel, which contains memorabilia from the old railway, creamery and livestock market. A working mill still grinds flour using a 1904 turbine and special Milling Days and events are held throughout the season. It is open from Easter until the end of September. A small admission fee is charged for entry to the mill but the museum is free.

Abbey Gatehouse, Church Lane, Sherborne, Dorset

Located near the historic Abbey and Almshouses, Sherborne Museum features local history, geology and agriculture, as well as a model of the old Norman castle, displays on Sherborne’s silk and glass fibre industry, a beautiful doll’s house and an ecclesiastical wall painting dating from the early 16th century. It is open from April to October on Tuesdays to Saturdays and in the afternoon on Bank Holidays. There is a very small admission charge for adults but children and students can enter for free.

Gold Hill, Shaftesbury, Dorset

Gain an insight into Shaftesbury’s long history including the Byzant water ceremony, unique to the town, and its association with crafts such as the Dorset button making industry. From the museum’s cottage garden you can enjoy views to Melbury Hill. Open daily, except Wednesdays, from April until the end of October. A small admission fee is charged.


Park Walk, Shaftesbury, Dorset

The site of this Abbey church and museum was once the most important Benedictine community for women in the country and is the resting place of the murdered boy King Edward the Martyr. Today visitors can see the excavated foundations of the church, which lie in a walled garden, and see what the Abbey would have looked like through a virtual tour. There is also an Anglo-Saxon herb collection and a mediaeval orchard. The museum is open from mid-March to the end of October. There is a modest admission charge but concessions and family tickets can be purchased.

Chantry Fields, Gillingham, Dorset

Gillingham Museum tells the story of the town and its surrounding villages from prehistoric times, through Roman and mediaeval occupation, to the major rebuilding work of the Victorian period. The displays include a 1790 manual fire engine, an exhibition about John Constable, an interactive quiz and a photographic display. Admission is free and the museum is open all year round on Mondays (except Bank Holidays), Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturday mornings.

Town Hall, East Street, Wareham, Dorset

Wareham Museum tells the history of the town from pre-historic times to the present day and includes a special exhibition on Lawrence of Arabia. It is open from mid-April until the end of October on Mondays to Saturdays and admission is free.