01935 429609
Somerset & Dorset
Family History Society

Welcome to the SDFHS

How can we help you? We will help you to find documented facts about the lives of your former family members which will unlock doors to your own personal family story. Although we do specialise in Somerset and Dorset and have extensive records from our two counties, our experienced Research Volunteers have skills which can help you trace your family roots, regardless of where they might have originated.

SDFHS Family History Centre

Our Family History Centre is at Broadway House, Peter St, Yeovil BA20 1PN. Find out more about how we can help with your research and the facilities we have to offer.

The Society’s Family History Centre in Yeovil is still closed to members and other visitors, but we are very pleased to have reopened our bookshop for online sales and orders by post, only – please do not come to the Centre to buy books.

Our Research Volunteers are still working mainly from home but do now have some access to our resources at the Centre, so if you would like any help with your family history research email: [email protected] and we will do our best to help you.

When we are able to reopen the Centre to visitors, we will inform members by electronic newsletter and will also post the information on our website and on Facebook. If you do not already receive e-newsletters, but would like to do so, please email: [email protected].

Join us

on Social Media

Recent Facebook

This webinar is today at 2pmAs we know many local history events have been hit by the virus, this includes the September Early Dunster Project day, where we had hoped to update you all on the fantastic progress Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society has made delving into people's roofs and house histories.

However, all is not lost, SANHS are instead planning a virtual September conference and to prepare they are doing a Zoom online event with Dave Dawson on the history of Dunster Kiln on Saturday 1st August at 2pm.

To register go to: us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_ikx_DjMYSOSuO4-4yhE1wQ
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We will be opening the cemetery gates again this Sunday, 2nd August, from 11am until 4pm. Come along and have a stroll round our scenic three acres site with wildflowers, grasses, butterflies and bees (plenty of space for social distancing!) Admission is free but donations to our charity greatly appreciated! Dogs welcome on leads. www.mendiphospitalcemetery.org.uk/ ... See MoreSee Less

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I didn’t know that the west front of Wells Cathedral would once have been painted, did you?The West Front of the Cathedral

Many are surprised to discover that Wells Cathedral's West Front would have once been painted in vibrant colours. Traces of paint have been identified on the original masonry.

The sculptures on the west front at Wells include standing figures, seated figures, half-length angels and narratives in high relief. Many of the figures are life-sized or larger. Together they constitute the finest display of medieval carving in England. The figures and many of the architectural details were painted in bright colours, and the colouring scheme has been deduced from flakes of paint still adhering to some surfaces.

Picture: Museum collection
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"Strive To Excel", 1781

This sampler was created in 1781 by Mary Lucas, and includes a wonderful poem. The rhyme is certainly of its age: "Go on my dear, strive to excel / Improve in work and reading well / For book and needle both contend / To mak[e] a housewife and a friend."

The Samplers Room presents a selection of the museum's collection of over 120 samplers including “Strive to Excel”. Samplers date from the 18th and 19th centuries. Most of these were donated by the late Eveleen Perkins in her will.
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3.1 Bridgwater & The River Parrett ... See MoreSee Less

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Dorset writer Roger Guttridge will be making his second appearance on BBC1’s award-winning Murder, Mystery and My Family on August 6, when series four re-examines the tragic case of Martha Brown.
Martha was the last woman to be publicly hanged in Dorchester after murdering her husband John Brown at Birdsmoorgate, near Broadwindsor, in 1856.
A 16-year-old Thomas Hardy was among the 3,000 who watched the execution and was undoubtedly affected by the experience.
It is thought to have influenced his decision to have his Marnhull-born heroine Tess Durbeyfield executed in Tess of the D’Urbervilles.
‘The Hardy connection is one of the things I’ll be talking about along with the trial itself and whether Martha had a raw deal given what she’d had to put up with from her husband,’ says Roger, who was brought up at Sturminster Newton.
Roger and novelist Rosemary Ellerbeck, who also lived at Stur for many years, appeared together in an earlier programme on Martha, screened by HTV 20 years ago.
Under her main pen-name Nicola Thorne, Rosemary also wrote My Name is Martha Brown, a novel based on the story.
Roger also appeared on the very first Murder, Mystery programme in 2018, which re-examined Charlotte Bryant’s murder of husband Fred at Sherborne, and will also feature in series five, to be screened later this year.
Series four starts on Monday July 27 and the Martha Brown episode will be screened at 10am on Thursday August 6.
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Recent Twitter

It’s good to be back @SomHeritage Excellent COVID measures in place: limited visitors, seated some distance apart, hand sanitiser, quarantined documents, screens. Thank you for keeping us safe! Glad to see visitors ALL wearing masks 😷

Did your family have roadside picnics? If so, Barbara Elsmore’s latest blog post will bring back some memories for you https://sdfhs.org/blog/the-joys-of-the-family-picnic/

Happy Birthday to the British Red Cross! Their superb database of VADs provides an insight into the roles women played at home during WW1 https://vad.redcross.org.uk/Volunteers-during-WW1

@BeginsHistory @WomensHistNet @WHNWestSWales @womenshistory #BritishRedCross150 @TheSDFHS @DorsetArchives https://twitter.com/BritishRedCross/status/1290542989924679683

British Red Cross@BritishRedCross

Today, 4th August, is a very special day for us: our 150th anniversary.

Join us as we look back over the past 150 years and recognise the incredible people who have driven, and continue to drive, our movement of kindness. #BritishRedCross150