The Somerset and Dorset Family History Centre
Sherborne is home to the Family History Centre and Headquarters of the Somerset and Dorset Family History Society. The Society was founded in 1975 and helps people to research their family history, especially those with ancestors in the two counties. The Centre is the first port of call for the many out of county and overseas visitors, and here you will find an informed and dedicated group of volunteers, on hand to help you with your family history research. Members of the Society may use all the facilities for free, non-Members are charged a daily fee of £3.
What will you find at the Family History Centre?
Ancestry/Findmypast – There are six computers on which you can access both of these sites, plus many more available on the Internet. If you have not tried searching on-line before, then one of the volunteers will help you find your way.
Parish Files – There is a file for every parish in Somerset and Dorset, and these contain transcriptions of most of the baptisms, marriages and burials in the parish church. Files may also contain similar details for other denominations, and the majority of the files also hold memorial inscriptions (MIs) and similar material. In some files you will find ‘parish packs’ which provide additional background information.
The Library – The Society Library has over 5,000 family, local, and military history items, and apart from the many books you will find CD’s, microfiches and maps. All together, these cover a wide range of relevant topics including village histories, areas of specialist research, and the works of many local authors. The collection includes The History of Somersetshire (1791) by the Rev. John Collison and The History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset (1861) by John Hutchins. Plus a full set of back copies of the Society journal, The Greenwood Tree. Books cannot be borrowed but searches can be made on request to the Centre.
Also available – A wide range of lists and indexes: some may be searched by yourself, others by a volunteer for a small fee. We can also search the Society’s large collection of donated pedigrees and family trees.
Events and Bookshop
Events – The Society holds lectures and longer events in the Meeting Room at the Centre. Click here or see What’s Coming Up for full details.
The Society Book Sales – The Society book shop has a stock of more than 800 titles, including the Society’s own publications, an extensive selection of Somerset and Dorset local history books, indexes to Somerset and Dorset records, general genealogy and family history guides and historical maps.
The Society can undertake research for you
If you are unable to visit the Centre in person you may like to contact the Research Team who will undertake research for you. The Service is reasonably priced, and provided by volunteer members who will research on your behalf using the records held by the Society. A minimum fee of £5 (Members) or £10 an hour (Non-Members) is charged for research work. This is intended to cover administrative costs and up to an hour’s research. Any further research is charged at £5 an hour (SDFHS Members) or £10 an hour (Non-Members).
Where is the Family History Centre? – The Centre is located at The Parade, Cheap Street, Sherborne – close to the Abbey, between Sherborne Museum and Connell’s Estate Agents. For those using a sat nav the actual building postcode is DT9 3BJ. We regret there is no parking at the Centre, although the nearest long-stay car park, the Culverhayes car park (DT9 3ED) off Long Street, is only a 5-minute walk away.
When is the Centre open and is there a charge? – Monday, Friday and Saturday, 10.00am – 1.00pm; Thursday 10.00am to 4.00pm; third Tuesday of every month from 7.00pm to 9.00pm. Entrance to the Family History Centre is free to members of the Society; non-members pay a day visitor’s fee of £3.
When is the Centre closed? – The Family History Centre is normally closed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays; as well as over Easter and Christmas and on Bank Holiday Mondays. The Centre is also closed for Sherborne’s Pack Monday Fair.
Closures for 2016 are as follows (all date ranges inclusive) – Monday 2 May (Early May Bank Holiday); Monday 30 May (Spring Bank Holiday); Monday 29 August (Summer Bank Holiday); Monday 17 October (Pack Monday Fair – date TBC); Thursday 22 December 2016 – Monday 2 January 2017. The Centre will reopen after the Christmas/New Year break on Thursday 5 January 2017.
Want to Volunteer? – The Society always welcomes new Volunteers, who can either work at the Society’s Family History Centre in Sherborne, or remotely from home. Volunteers, who will need to be computer-literate, play a huge part in welcoming visitors to the Centre and in caring for and adding to the Society’s records and databases. Please contact the Centre if you are interested.
Contact us – Somerset & Dorset FHS, PO Box 4502, Sherborne, Dorset, DT9 6YL, United Kingdom. Telephone: 01935 389611 (The Family History Centre has a telephone answering machine to take calls when the Centre is closed. Someone will return your call when they are next at the Centre).
The Society has a website: http://www.sdfhs.org/;
and can be followed on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheSDFHS;
and on our Blog: http://sdfhs.wordpress.com/.Follow me!