Bridport History Society


Bridport History Society is an association for people with a lively curiosity about both local history and wider historical matters. The Society’s meetings offer its Members not only the opportunity to attend a variety of interesting talks, but also the opportunity to engage with others in discussions about historical issues. The Society is also a forum for sharing information on Members’ own research and projects.

Next Meeting and Talk

Thursday, 14 March 2024         2.15pm for 2.30pm

Prof. William Gibson (Oxford Brookes University)
‘Seals, Sedition and Sacheverell’


The talk introduces the ways in which personal wax seals were used in the eighteenth century – on documents, as decorative items and for political purposes.  Through the case of Henry Sacheverell , we see how seal-makers exploited the political nature of public life.  Although forgotten now, Sacheverell was a great celebrity in the first two decades of the eighteenth century – either hero or villain depending on your point of view, use of his seals raises questions of loyalty and treason in the period.  Before the talk there will be a short AGM.


Dr Henry Sacheverell is considered by some to have been Britain’s first celebrity in the modern sense.  To find out more about Sacheverell, see below.

Henry Sacheverell

Extract from Greg Jenner's Dead Famous: An Unexpected History of Celebrity:

'Doctor Henry Sacheverell...was an ambitious Anglican minister who gave a 
fiery speech from the pulpit of St Paul's Cathedral on 5 November 1709, attacking "false brethren" in the church...it was immediately perceived as a political broadside against the Whig party by pro-royalist Tories, and thus Sacheverell was thrust into the centre of a political maelstrom...Before long, 100,000 copies of his speech had been sold...His next speech was attended by a huge mob, desperate to get into church...the Whig government attempted to try him for sedition...riots broke out in his defence...'

(above)      Staffordshire figure of Henry Sacheverell (c.1745), an example of eighteenth-century celebrity merchandising

...at the height of Sacheverell's new fame, penny loaves were inscribed with his name and the year, medals were issued, commemorative plates were struck, ceramic statuettes were made, babies were named in his honour, his chubby face appeared on wax-seals so people could stamp it into their letters, and he stared out from ladies' fans, decks of cards, tobacco pipes, and coat buttons...Sacheverell was already every inch the modern celebrity.'  (Greg Jenner, Dead Famous: An Unexpected History of Celebrity)

Society Meetings

Meetings are held at the United Church Hall, East Street, Bridport, DT6 3LJ on the second Thursday of the month (except July and August), 2.15pm for a 2.30pm start.  Access to the hall is from the alley to the side of the church.

Membership is £10 individual / £15 couple, plus £1 on the door.  Visitors welcome, £5pp per talk.

Bridport History Society
Meetings are held at the United Church Hall, East Street, Bridport, DT6 3LJ
on the second Thursday of the month (except July and August), 2.15 pm for a 2.30 pm start.   Access to the hall is from the alley to the side of the church.