Harold St George Gray, in his 'Memoir of General Pitt-Rivers', gives a short introduction to the Museum he had worked in as an assistant:

Gray, H. St. G. 1905. ‘A Memoir of Lt-General Pitt-Rivers’ in Excavations in Cranborne Chase vol. V. Somerset [privately published] pp. xxx-xxxi

After succeeding to the Rushmore estates, a large proportion of the General's time was absorbed in the formation and development of a second large collection of archaeological and ethnographical objects, which now occupy nine rooms and galleries in the notable local museum of Farnham, North Dorset. The four smaller rooms originally formed part of a Gipsy School, but the occupation of the building for this purpose became useless, for the children of these wandering people played truant so often that the school soon had to be closed.

The original intention of the Museum was (1) to house the relics found by the General on his surrounding property, together with absolutely accurate and unique models of all the sites excavated, and in this way to carry out his views that, as far as practicable, local antiquities should remain in the neighbourhood in which they are found; and (2) to form a collection - particularly for the education of country folk, as a means of popular instruction - of agricultural implements and appliances, including models of country carts, ploughs, scythes, spades, querns, textile fabrics, dress, etc., from different localities. But in later years the Museum developed into a far larger and more comprehensive collection, the wall-cases alone measuring over 250 yards. In addition to the series mentioned above, the Museum contains the following :- Peasant costume and personal ornament of different nations; household utensils used by peasants in different countries; a large series of pottery of all ages, descriptions and nationalities, commencing with the Stone Age down to the present time; a fine series illustrating the history of stone and bronze implements; series illustrating the history of glass-making and enamelling; a series of accurate models to scale (made by Messrs C.W Gray and F.W. Reader), showing the development of the Christian cross in Celtic times; drawings and paintings on the flat from different countries, including the drawings of savages, with examples of the well-known series of "successive copying,"* embroideries, lights and lighting apparatus; the Benin City collection previously mentioned ; carvings from different countries; and a fairly representative ethnographical collection of specimens from all parts of the world. This latter branch of the Museum was largely developed during the last four years of the General's life, for he was a voracious and omnivorous collector up to the end. In the acquisition of all things General Pitt-Rivers displayed a rare and discriminating intelligence.'

[Note * : General Pitt-Rivers, followed by H. Balfour and others, have given us an insight into the manner in which realistic forms, by repeat copying, may degenerate into mere ornament]


'As a museum curator Herbert Toms particularly regretted the fate of the General's collection, writing to Gray in 1911 after a visit to Dorset: 'Went to the Museum 4 times. How neglected! The beetles are playing the devil with many of the wooden objects. What a pity the old chap died before the arrangement of the ethnog. part was completed! [Bradley, 1989: 31]

Transcribed by AP as part of the Rethinking Pitt-Rivers project, June 2010

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