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LORD DIGBY’S SCHOOL - Archive and Exhibition

Following the success of last year’s temporary exhibition and series of articles called ‘Looking Back at Foster’s School’, this year we are planning to repeat the whole process but this time we will be ‘Looking Back at Lord Digby’s School’.

I have met with June Helson, former pupil and teacher and with Pauline Batstone, former pupil and president of the Old Girls’ Association and plans are now well under way for the opening of an exhibition just before Easter. The exhibition will then run for a year. Around Founder’s Day in May the window of the museum will also be used to display various larger items of memorabilia.

I have listed all the items that are located amongst the various collections in the museum which is available here. This consists mainly of photographs, items of uniform, honours boards and other substantive pieces. Most of the paperwork was sent to the Dorset County Records Office and a list of these items is held by the museum. Various other pieces of memorabilia are held by many of the old girls themselves and the museum is lucky to be able to have use of some of these to add to the display.

As with the exhibition for Foster’s there will be a series of articles on the school. These articles, it is hoped, will ‘grow’ as old girls of the school come forward to share their memories. In the case of Foster’s, which started out as half a dozen chapters, this eventually grew to 18 by the close. So the challenge is on - can the girls equal or even exceed this!

I would be very pleased to hear from anyone who would like to share memories of their time at the school. Here are a few photos to take some of you back in time:

First Digby school image Second Digby school image

Third Digby school image
Digby booklet cover

There is a booklet to accompany the exhibition called Looking Back at Lord Digby’s School which contains further information including some personal memories from former pupils.

It can be downloaded for free from Dropbox as a (large) PDF file.

Barbara Elsmore
January 2014


In May 2012 the Foster’s School cupboard, located in the photographic room, was scrapped and the content of the cupboard was removed, put into boxes and transferred to the Museum Store in the Somerset and Dorset Family History Centre. It has now been listed and catalogued.

The collection contained a folder reference: Foster’s School Records accession no 1992/12/1. This appears to be the original index created when the collection was donated to the museum in 1992 upon the closure of Foster’s School in Tinneys Lane and the start of comprehensive education in Sherborne. From this record it can be seen that some of the items originally went into other collections in the museum, for example, some photographs, postcards and items of the uniform.

Photographs A box containing around 70 photos taken in the mid 1950s. ©Barbara Elsmore

Archive Boxes A treasure trove of information just waiting to be unlocked. ©Barbara Elsmore

Now in January 2013 it has been possible to create a list of all the items that have been located and catalogued from within the various collections in the museum and it consists of 494 items. The groups of photos held in the photographic storeroom in the museum number around 250, at a rough estimate, and are not included singly on the list. Some of these photographs will be available to view via the museum’s new touch-screen system.

The next step will be to analyse the collection more closely to learn more about what it contains as up until now creating a full list of all the items has been the first priority with only tantalising glimpses, so far, of what it might consist. In the future it should be possible for those interested to search through this archive, not just the photographs, but the documents too as they can form a valuable tool for family historians. Further work needs to be done to facilitate this.

To celebrate the rediscovery of this archive some key items will be on display in a forthcoming exhibition in 2013. Ken House and John House were originally tasked with the job of moving this archive and I am very glad to have been given the job of assisting them. I should declare an interest as my father was an Old Fosterian as was my grandfather before him.

Barbara Elsmore 12 January 2013

Booklet cover

Looking Back at Foster’s School - exhibition 2013
(26 Mar - 17 December 2013)

The exhibition has some of the key items from the Foster’s School archive on display. There are many photos and items of memorabilia that will be of interest to ‘old boys’ of the school. It is hoped that descendents of former pupils will also find something of interest to give them a flavour of school life in days gone by.

There is a booklet to accompany the exhibition called Looking Back at Foster’s School (now includes more chapters) which contains further information including some personal memories from former pupils. The booklet can be purchased as a CD from the museum shop at a cost of £1.50 or downloaded from Dropbox for free here as a (large) PDF file. If you happen to have a tablet computer or e-Reader, such as Kindle, you can put it straight into your tablet computer and read it as an e-Magazine.

Barbara Elsmore March 2013

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