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The Keep Military Museum

Friday, March 5th, 2010
The Keep Museum Dorchester
The Keep Military Museum

The Keep Military Museum is housed in an impressive prominent historical building located at the top of the town. ‘The Keep’ used to be the guardroom and gateway to the depot barracks of the former Dorset Regiment and was in active use until 1958. It houses the splendid archive collection of the participating regiments that make up the Military Museum of Devon and Dorset. People of all ages can experience realistic battle environments, together with exhibitions and tales of courage, humour and sacrifice spread over 300 years.

The Keep Museum’s Constituent Regiments

The Keep Museum’s constituent Regiments are The Devonshire Regiment, The Dorset Regiment, The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment, The Dorset Yeomanry, The Queen’s Own Dorset Yeomanry, The Dorset Militia, The Royal Devon Yeomanry and 94 Field Regiment RA. The Museum aims to provide a fine tribute to all those who have served in the regiments of Devon and Dorset and to preserve the memory of the Countys’ infantry and yeomanry cavalry.

The Keep Museum Experience

You can transport yourself back in time while at the Museum and experience the heroic stories of the soldiers and their families and much more.  The artefacts, weapons, uniforms, and medals are on display over three floors. The museum uses computer and digital presentation to relate the history of the Napoleonic Wars, Boer War, World Wars I and II, and the Falklands and Iraq conflicts. A vast array of military campaigns are represented and put into a historical context in the video introduction in the bunker. There are also Spectacular views from the battlements from where you can observe Hardy’s Dorset.  On-line is a new 360 degree virtual tour of The Keep Military Museum that provides an excellent overview of this unmissable family attraction.

Regimental & Military History books

The Keep Museum Ground Floor
The Keep Museum Ground Floor

If you are researching your family’s military background, The Keep Military Museum Library holds an extensive collection of rare books and military journals which have been donated to the Museum over the years. Photocopies can be made dependent on copyright restrictions and the general condition of the volume concerned.

War Diaries

Copies of some War Diaries, more so for World War I than for World War II, are also held in The Keep Military Museum. The museum is happy to check these records for you if you let them know the name of the Battalion and approximate dates in which you have an interest.

The Accessions Database

The Keep Museum 2nd Floor
The Keep Museum 2nd Floor

The Keep Military Museum’s MODES accessions database holds details of 28,000 documents, photographs, medals and artefacts donated to the Museum over the years. The searchable database is updated daily and all names of individuals are recorded wherever possible. Other records available include Nominal Rolls for the Queens Own Dorset Yeomanry (QODY), Enlistment Records for the Dorsetshire Regiment and Journals for the Devonshire and Dorset and Dorset Regiments and much more.

Home Front 1939 – 1945

There are also web pages dedicated to the Home Front 1939 – 1945 with historical and educational information as well as image galleries featuring photographs taken of The Blitz, The Home Guard and front line Dorset and American troops. The Home Front Recall Project was completed with the support of Heritage Lottery Funding.

The Keep Military Museum is open, Monday to Saturday during April to September from 10.00am to 5.00pm (last admission 4.00pm) and opens Tuesday to Saturday during October to March (plus Mondays during school holidays) from10.00am to 4:30pm (last admission 3.30pm). The Museum is closed on Sundays throughout the year . Note, during March 2010, The Keep Military Museum is also closed on Saturdays in addition to Sunday and Monday.

Admission is £6 per adult, Children 8-16 years £2 (under 8 years free), Seniors/concessions £4 and a family ticket (2 adults and 2 children) is £13. Please contact the Keep Military Museum for special rates for groups and schools.

There is Wheelchair access to all display floors by lift. Disabled toilet facilities are available.

Virtual Galleries

The Keep Museum Roof
The Keep Museum Roof

Having visited ‘The Keep’ you may want to view their website which contains Virtual Galleries and documents covering the regiments’ part in the Gallipoli Campaign (WWI) of 1915, the Middle East Campaign (WWI) , the Battle of the Somme (WWI) and the Home Front (WWII). The Keep Military Museum has developed educational teaching packs in support of Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 and these packs are available to download from the website.

The Keep Military Museum shop holds a large selection of items in the Museum shop, including books, DVD and museum souvenirs. Entry to the shop is free. The online shop also sells a selection of Regimental goods including books, badges, cufflinks, ties and plaques.  You can also become a member of ‘Keep Friends’ which was established in 2002 to provide practical and financial assistance – individual £10, Family £15 and Corporate £75.

Archive Research Service

The Keep Military Museum offers an enquiries and research service, in return for a donation, based on the information held in its archives. The Keep Military Museum holds collections and archives for its constituent Regiments listed above. The National Archives also holds many records and is a good source of information.

If you are visiting Dorchester, do take time out to see this historic Military Museum which is located next to the ‘Top of town’ car park. This is a great Dorset attraction to combine with a bit of shopping which is only a short walk away. Click here for a list of retailers.

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