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].

Society Annual Report and Accounts DRAFT

The final version of the Society Annual Report and Accounts will be posted here in early October once members have had a chance to comment.

Join us

on Social Media

Recent Facebook

Over 12,000 people have registered so far for our FREE #LunchtimeLecture next Thursday with Dr Francis Young where we'll be exploring Macabre church lore.

Join us as we look at some fascinating #folklore and discover some weird and wonderful tales and legends connected with churches


Learn more 👉 bit.ly/3nWZSkU
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One of our group members is keen to find out the names of these men...can anyone help? ... See MoreSee Less

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In 1973 the Madame Tussaud company bought Wookey Hole Caves for a reported £2m.
In 1974 they used one of the rooms at the old mill for the storage of “retired” waxworks from their London displays.
The heads, busts, legs and arms of the great and the good were stored there including those of, Alfred Hitchcock, Bob Hope, Don Revie, Julie Andrews, Steve McQueen, the Queen all graced the shelves of the storeroom. The torsos were melted down and used in other figures.
In this picture, from the museum collection, if you look on the right-hand side on the second shelf up you can see the head of Sir Paul Macartney.
The public were able to visit the store until 1990 when they put in their collection of Curiosities.
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Every year around the time of Pack Monday Fair people ask us about the origins of Teddy Roe and his band and various theories are floated including the popular idea that Teddy Roe was foreman of the Abbey renovations after the fire of 1437 and that when these were completed a musical celebration was led round the town.
The name “Teddy Roe” does not seem to have been applied to the town’s night of rough music (a common phenomenon that traditionally ushered in most great fairs throughout the country) until the early nineteenth century, when the name started appearing in local newspaper reports. Teddy Roe was then a character in Victorian popular culture, known and celebrated as far afield as the United States, headlining in farcical plays in music halls and theatres. He featured as a Dublin fishmonger in a long poem called “The Wake of Teddy Roe” which describes a ludicrous and drunken event, printed in “The British Minstrel” in 1827. The name was also the title of a popular tune. It may well be that to call something such as Sherborne’s noisy midnight perambulation “Teddy Roe’s Band” signified that it was a chaotic and lawless event, led by a kind of Lord of Misrule.
Teddy Roe’s Band, while special to Sherborne, is by no means unique and shares features with other similar bands such as the Broughton Tin Can Band in Northamptonshire, which takes place annually at midnight, on the first Sunday after 12th December (old St Andrew’s day). As with Teddy Roe, it follows a set route; participants carry pans, cow horns, metal trays, whistles and the like, while in earlier years locals often found themselves the victims of dustbin-lid stealing. Both bands have invited controversy and attempts at eradication owing to the supposed presence of “undesirable elements” from other parts of the region but there has always been a stalwart core of locals insisting that the tradition is kept alive. This brings to mind the years of the police ban in Sherborne, when former mayors Arthur Sweet and Alwyn Lugg would walk the route together at midnight in order to keep the continuity running. Even during the Second World War blackout, participants would perambulate in silence apart from the jingling of coins in their pockets.
It was Alwyn Lugg who ensured that the cow’s horn, said to have been played in the Band and discovered by a builder in a garden in Westbury, was eventually gifted to the Museum for safekeeping. On careful examination, its rim can be seen to be inscribed with hexfoils or daisy-wheels, traditional symbols used to ward off evil. This reinforces the idea that rough music was employed to expel both undesirable spirits and people from the community and it seems that “Teddy Roe’s” Band is one of the country’s few existing survivals of this once common tradition. It’s so important that we keep it alive.
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Our museum volunteers have dedicated many hours over the past few years and especially over the past few months rejuvenating the museum both inside and outside. Here are just a few of our wonderful team past and present and we want to say a big thank you to them all.

The museum is open on Saturdays between 10-4pm, we would love to see you and show you what we have been up to.
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Recent Twitter

Did your ancestors die in #Dorset?
Over one thousand FREE death certificate transcripts available now.
If you already have their death certificates, why not donate copies to the website for other researchers?

‘Once in a while antiquarian pursuits, like recording monuments in churches, hit present day reality.' Find out what happens when the study of church monuments becomes headline news https://bit.ly/3dst3aX

#TackysRevolt @brixtonbard @DorsetMuseum @DorsetArchives