An evening with Sir Tony Robinson

Somerset & Dorset Family History Society

Barry Brock describes a recent event in Dorchester.

A trip to the Dorset History Centre on 30 October provided the chance to meet Sir Tony Robinson, ‘actor, TV presenter, historian and Ancestry.co.uk spokesperson’. This was a ‘meet the customer’ event, organised by Ancestry in conjunction with the Dorset History Centre – a ballot for tickets had been four times over subscribed.

It may be difficult to think of Tony Robinson as a knight of the realm, especially as the obvious name linked to his face is that of Baldrick in Blackadder. But by now we know him just as much for his years on Time Team, and so it proved an enjoyable trip as Sir Tony took us through the various things that should cause us to feel grateful to Ancestry. Not least among these reasons was that by making records available on the Internet, Ancestry has…

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Opening of new Photographic Archive at Dorset County Museum

Came House by Charles Cornish Browne © DCM

Came House by Charles Cornish Browne © DCM

A generous legacy has enabled Dorset County Museum to rebuild its Photographic Archive and to ensure its long-term future as a unique resource for Dorset. The sum of £100,000 was donated in 2011 by William Butcher, a former farm hand at Shipton Gorge Farm.

During the Second World War, Bill ran the farm – a reserved occupation – and patrolled Chesil Beach as part of his Home Guard duties, often up all night then going straight out at 5.00am to milk the cows by hand!  He and his wife Sylvia had a life-long interest in archaeology stemming from the discovery of prehistoric artefacts on the farm he worked.  They were both avid collectors and had amazing collections of boxes, tins, and old cider bottles.

Looking down High East Street with all the decorations for the visit of the Prince of Wales to the bath and West Show in 1887. © DCM

Looking down High East Street with all the decorations for the visit of the Prince of Wales to the bath and West Show in 1887. © DCM

Bill Butcher’s £100,000 legacy was used to completely rebuild the photographic archive, previously at risk from rain and flood damage, providing improved user facilities and a state-of-the-art storage capacity so that the collection can be both safeguarded and enlarged.  Dorset County Museum has almost 50,000 photographic prints, slides and negatives dating back to the mid-19th Century – images showing what life was like in Dorset parishes in times gone by, with an extensive biographic collection telling the story of Dorset people.

The new Dorset Photographic Archive is being officially opened on 14th June alongside the brand new “Bill Butcher Common Room” for use by volunteers and staff. For access to the Photographic Collection, contact Valerie Dicker on 01305 262735.

Dorset County Museum has many other projects for which donations would be most welcome.  If you are considering making or changing a will, giving to charity is easy and straightforward, and can pass on some excellent tax advantages as all legacies left to charities are free of inheritance tax.

By including Dorset County Museum in your will, you are helping to preserve its many collections and protect them for future generations. No matter how small your gift, your contribution will make a difference.  You may leave a donation to be used for general purposes, or, like Bill, you can specify a particular purpose for your legacy.