Shepherds, huts, sheep and a fun mini-exhibition

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Gillian Beecher turned the book-signing session for the launch of her study of the portable huts once used by shepherds into an engaging mini-exhibition.

The Bexhill Museum volunteer has spent 17 years researching a bygone way of life when shepherds lived in crude wheeled huts to be near their flocks at lambing time.

She also has her own collection of sheep-rearing memorabilia, from sheep shears to sheep bells.

Fellow volunteers were assisting in the Egerton Road museum’s Education Room on Saturday where Gillian was kept busy signing copies of Shepherds, Huts and Sheep, which she has published under her own Beechtree Press imprint at £7.50.

The book is on sale at the museum shop and Gillian is donating a proportion of each sale to the voluntarily-run, independent museum.

Among guests at Saturday’s four-hour session was Jean Collett, of Seabourne Road, Pebsham.

Jean has donated a family heirloom to the museum, a 19th century Century Oxfordshire working smock made of coarse twill, or “drabbet,” which was on display at Gillian’s mini-exhibition.

Jean explained: “It could be from as early as the 1850s. I don’t think it has ever been worn.

“My husband is from Oxfordshire. He was from a farming family and worked on a farm.

“When his mother died and they cleared the home it came back with various family items. It’s been stored away and we’d not thought much about it. But when I came into the museum with another couple of items I remembered that it was stored under the divan.”