First World War research guide

logo singleAre you researching an ancestor who served in the First World War? Do you want to know more about the contribution your community made to the war effort?

If you want to find out more about the role your relatives played in the war, or about the effect the war had on your community, there are a number of resources available to help you.

Somerset Remembers is a county-wide project exploring the impact that the war had on the county and the many ways in which Somerset people, their families and communities have remembered the war. The Friends contributed £2000 to this project. 

Download the research guide here or visit their resources page for further information.

If you have already done research, share your own memories, records or artefacts with others on the Somerset Remembers community archive. Here you can discover the personal experiences of Somerset people in photographs, letters and stories passed down through the generations.

Do you have pictures, letters, diaries, or war records from a family member who was involved? Did a relative serve with the Somerset Light Infantry? Is there a Red Cross nurse in the family? Or have you been researching your village to mark the centenary?

You can contribute to the project or read the fascinating accounts of the lives and experiences of Somerset people at:


Book sale raises funds for museum

The Friends held two second-hand book sales at the Museum of Somerset on Sunday 15 June and Saturday 21 June. These were scheduled to coincide with Father’s Day on the Sunday and Taunton’s Somerfest on the Saturday, the latter celebration taking place at a number of locations around the town centre. There was an addition to the usual reading matter as plants donated by our members were also on sale. Across the two sales £186.56 was raised and this will be put with other funds and ultimately be used for the benefit of the Museum of Somerset. Our grateful thanks go out to all those Friends who gave up their time, energy and resources, including plants, to make the events a success.

The Closure of Taunton & District Civic Society

We were sorry to learn of the closure on 1st April 2014 of Taunton & District Civic Society, founded in 1971. At its closure the Society held certain financial assets which required suitable disposal and a number of local organisations were therefore approached in this connection. These included the Friends of The Museum of Somerset.

Following discussions between the parties we were very pleased to be offered the sum of £500 “without condition but we hope the money can be put towards something tangible and permanent for the museum, and, if at all possible, of relevance to Taunton and district.”

While we wish the circumstances could have been somewhat different, this most generous offer has been gratefully accepted. Due consideration is now being given in cooperation with the Museum to an appropriate use for the money complying with the spirit in which it has been donated to the Friends.

Friends Donate £2000 to First World War Project

From L-R Mick Grigg, treasurer, Sam Astill, Assistant Curator, Susie Simmons, Visitor Services Manager, Felicity Hebditch, retiring Chairman, and Betty Carter, one of the longest serving members of the Friends.The Friends of the Museum of Somerset have raised £2000 towards the Somerset Remembers project; the county-wide First World War memorial project.

Three members of the Friends, Betty Carter, a long-standing member, Felicity Hebditch, retiring chairman, and Mick Grigg, treasurer, presented the cheque to Assistant Curator Sam Astill, who is leading on the commemorative project for Somerset Heritage.

The money was raised through subscriptions, donations and raffles at the Friends’ meetings, and will go towards meeting the costs of the project.

2014 marks the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the 
First World War. Drawing on this poignant moment in national history, Somerset Remembers will explore the impact and long-term legacy of the conflict on the county.

A six-month exhibition will be held at The Museum of Somerset this summer. Built around the stories and experiences of Somerset people during the First World War, it will go beyond the military aspects of the conflict to explore the wider impact on the county.

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Visit to Cothelstone Manor

Cothelstone ManorBefore Christmas a group of 50 members visited Cothelstone Manor. Their hosts, Nigel and Finny Muers-Raby, made them very welcome, providing an entertaining talk on the history of the manor and a private tour. 

The present house is Grade II listed and dates from the early 1600s. It was largely demolished by the parliamentary troops in 1646 and rebuilt in 1855–56. It is notable for its fine Grade I listed Gatehouse dating from the early 1500s, the Grade II listed Gazebo and the 17th Century Banqueting Hall all of which have survived. The stone mullion windows are of architectural significance and are noted by Pevsner as being unique. There is, in fact, only one other house in England with this type of mullioned window.

The group then went to the the red sandstone Church of St Thomas of Canterbury behind the manor. The church dates from the 12th Century and was largely restored in 1864. It includes memorials to the Stawell family church., which is still in regular use; one of the churchwardens gave a guided tour.

After this the group returned to the manor for a homemade afternoon tea of cake and sandwiches, followed by some carol-singing around the Christmas tree and log fire.

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