The Guggleton Gallery Young Arts Christmas Exhibition – 2018

Isabel de Pelet , First Prize winner Will Montgomery and Sheila Williams at the Awards Ceremony held on  Friday 16 November 2018

Max Denison-Pender and Will Montgomery

The Bachelor of Balintore – the bronze sculpture which won First Prize

Hannah Cox receiving Third Prize for her two mixed media French street scenes

Jill de Bretton-Gordon, Mary Anderson and Will Montgomery

Winter Nag, winner of the Second Prize awarded to Madeleine de St. Pierre Bunbury

Happy New Year!

Dear Members and Visitors,

Wishing everyone  a happy, healthy and peaceful 2019.!

As I write, Christmas has passed and the New Year is fast approaching.  May this New Year be special and may you discover new interests, friends and skills you didn’t know you possessed!

I hope you will  really enjoy the lectures planned for the months ahead.  In addition to our lecture programme in Stalbridge each month,  there are also lectures held at Cerne Abbas and Market Lavington in North Wiltshire.  These are organised by the Wessex Area – very popular and similar in format to our Days of Special Interest, with a light lunch and three lectures.  Have a look online at and remember, you don’t have to sign up for all the lectures – try one and see if you like it.

We have a visit to The American Museum and the Holbourne Museum in Bath planned for June which I hope many of you will enjoy, especially as it will not involve a long coach journey and also an Evening Celebration to be held at St. Mary’s School Shaftesbury in May.  Tickets for both these events and our DOSI in March will soon be on sale at the monthly lectures.  Book early to avoid disappointment!

With best wishes,

Sheila Williams


Pottery and Painting Day at St. George’s School, Bourton

On Thursday 22 November, our Society funded a day’s painting and pottery class run by Mr Des Alner for 34 young pupils at St. George’s School, Bourton.  Due to the strictures of the National Curriculum pupils do not have much opportunity to learn pottery or to learn how to paint. They enjoyed spending a day moulding pots from clay using the same methods used by the early Romans. Some of the pots may well become Christmas presents when they have been fired by Des later in the week. We hope to fund another day early in the New Year.

Visit to the Silk Mill Whitchurch & The Bombay Gin Distillery

The Silk Mill at Whitchurch was established on the banks of the River Test in the early 1800s and has recently undergone extensive restoration. The grass upon which we were standing had been put in position the day before our visit and was perfect, green and weed-free, unlike many of our own lawns which are in a sorry state after the long hot summer.  After a very welcome cup of coffee, our guide explained that the chalk stream, mill pond, leat and race, with Frog Island in the middle, are micro-managed throughout the year to ensure that the quality and flow of the water is pure.
Grayling, brown trout and Mallard ducks pootled about in the river as we learned that fast flowing water produces tightly-woven silk and slow flowing water gives a much looser weave.

After a fascinating morning at the Silk Mill, we then drove a short distance to The Bombay Gin Distillery where  we had lunch on the top of a double-decker bus which has been turned into a cafe very successfully!  After sampling a delicious quiche, salad and coleslaw, we headed off to the factory.

The Botanicals Glass Houses add a very contemporary look to the factory which was established in 1761 by Thomas Dakin.  The constant warmth in the glasshouses is maintained by using the moist warm air rising from the copper stills. Butterflies from Africa live amongst the thick vegetation comprised of  juniper, cassia bark, lemon trees, liqourice roots and other exotics all of which are used to flavour the gin.  We saw tanks containing 100,000 litres of pure gin, 90% of which is exported – surprisingly, the UK market is only 10%.

At the end of the tour we enjoyed sampling a fruity cocktail in the late afternoon sunshine before our drive back to Dorset. Our thanks to Mary for organising an excellent day out!



A letter from the new Chairman

Dear Members and Visitors,
Autumn is here and after the long hot summer we can now look forward to 4 October and the start of an exciting and varied lecture programme.
On behalf of the Committee, I should like to extend a very warm welcome to all our new Members. We hope you will be able to attend the New Members buffet lunch in November which is an opportunity for us to meet you personally. We hope you will enjoy being part of our lively society and that you will make new and lasting friendships.

Almost five years ago, I was invited by a friend to come to my first NADFAS lecture here in Stalbridge Village Hall – and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done! I was impressed by the consistently high- calibre lecturers and how so many of them had the ability to present a seemingly- dull subject into something quite remarkable. I found I came away from lectures having learned so much and was often in awe that they frequently spoke without notes, non-stop, for an hour at a time.
In 2014, I became Programme Secretary, which has to be the most interesting job of all. I could have continued quite cheerfully choosing lectures for years, but Life is full of surprises and I am now your fledgling Chairman.
The re-branding of NADFAS last year saw the rise of The Arts Society with 90,000 members world-wide. You are part of this exciting mission to give a wider understanding of all the arts to both young and old alike. We hope you enjoy all that we offer at The Arts Society Blackmore Vale and that some of you might, in time, consider joining our voluntary Committee where you will be made very welcome.
With all good wishes,
Sheila Williams