PO Box 4502
Dorset DT9 6YL

Phone: +44 (0)1935 389611

SDFHS Family History Centre

Situated in a 17th century building next to Sherborne Museum our Family History Centre is the first port of call for our many visitors. Here you will find an informed and dedicated group of volunteers, on hand to help you at whatever level you are with your family history research. If you are unable to visit the Centre in person our Volunteers can also undertake research for you.

Opening Hours

Monday, Friday, Saturday 10am to 1pm
Thursday 10am to 4pm

Third Tuesday of the month 7pm to 9pm

Closures 2017

The Centre will be closed on: Friday 14 - Monday 17 April (Good Friday, Easter weekend and Easter Monday); Monday 1 May (Early May Bank Holiday); Monday 29 May (Spring Bank Holiday); Monday 28 August (Summer Bank Holiday); Monday 16 October (Pack Monday Fair); Thursday 21 December 2016 - Monday 1 January 2017. The Centre will reopen after the Christmas/New Year break on Thursday 4 January 2018.


For benefits and 'how to join' click link
Contact e-mail


If you live in Somerset or Dorset, there is sure to be an SDFHS Group close to you. Click here for details of our Groups and their upcoming events' programmes.



SDFHS on BBC Radio Somerset

The Society's Angela McDonald was interviewed about the Society, and researching family history, on BBC Radio Somerset on 23 January. The programme is available here for 29 days after transmission. Angela's interview starts at 01.38.09 and ends at 01.52.56.

Dorset Monumental Inscriptions

In June 2016 we made the index to our database of Dorset Monumental Inscriptions available for download here. We are very pleased now to be able to tell you that our records have been included in 85,000 transcripts of gravestones and other memorials which are now available on FindMyPast. If you don’t have a personal subscription to FmP, you should be able to access it at public libraries (in the UK) or at our own Family History Centre in Sherborne.

We can also still check these records for you on our database - just consult the Index and then contact us with the details you have found there. 

Membership subscriptions for 2017

If your membership expired at the end of 2016, you will have received a renewal form for 2017 with the November edition of The Greenwood Tree (it is printed on the back of the address insert). If you no longer have the form, you can download one here.

Our subscription year runs from 1 January to 31 December and current annual subscription rates are:

UK individual: £18

UK Family: £20

Overseas Individual: £22

Overseas Family: £24.

If you subscribe for three years (2016-2018), you will get a discount and the three-year rates are: UK Individual £50; UK Family £56; Overseas Individual £62; Overseas Family £68.

Joining the Society

If you would like to join the Society for 2017 (or 2017-2019) download the 2017 application form

An hour of free research for new Members

We are offering new members of the Society a complimentary hour's work on your first research request to one of our experienced Volunteers. Please see here for full details.

Download the November 2015 issue of The Greenwood Tree

If you are not yet a member of the Society and would like to see a copy of The Greenwood Tree before joining, you can download a PDF of the November 2015 edition here.

The Greenwood Tree 1975-2015 in digital format

All editions of our journal The Greenwood Tree from the first in 1975 up to and including November 2015, can now be purchased as PDFs on one fully-searchable CD (or memory stick). Digital editions from February 2016 onwards can be downloaded from our Members' Forum.

The Editor, Bob Barber, describes the CD here and details of prices and how to order are on the bookshop page.

Make a donation to the SDFHS when buying online

If you shop, book transport or hotels, or pay utility bills online then there is now a way for you to do this and support the Society at the same time as we have signed up to easyfundraising which means that if you register with them and choose the SDFHS as your good cause, we will receive a donation from the retailers, without it costing you anything extra - the prices to you are exactly the same as if you visit the retailers' websites directly.

Every three months, easyfundraising totals up donations and sends a payment straight to the Society’s bank. So far easyfundraising has raised over £9 million for causes throughout the UK. If you are a UK tax payer the donation made on your behalf is eligible for Gift Aid.

If you would like to help the Society by taking part, then please go to easyfundraising.org.uk and sign up, choosing the SDFHS as your good cause.

The Island and Royal Manor of Portland Historic Sources CD

Version 3 of this comprehensive set of records for Portland has now been released. The CD is a most valuable resource for anyone with Portland ancestors.

 The main additions for this new release are:

  • Transcripts of census records for 1881, 1891, 1901 and 1911.
  • Parish registers for St Peter’s, The Grove, [Christenings (1870-1906) & Marriages (1873-1918)], Our Lady & St Andrew RC Church, The Grove, [Christenings (1866-1870) & Marriages (1884)] and the Independent Chapel, Chesil, [Christenings (1829-1837)].
  • Churchwardens accounts for St George’s (1723-1780) and St John’s (1859-1919).
  • Portland Cemetery MIs.
  • St John’s Pew Rent Book (1845-1875) and Vestry Minute Book (1868-1918).
  • Postholders: Parish Clerk, Sexton, Way-Wardens, Land Tax Assessors & Collectors, Vicars of St Peter’s, Prison and Naval Chaplains, and clergy of other denominations.  Other similar lists have been extended.

Over-the-counter price £15.00. UK including postage: £16.10. Overseas including postage: £17.75.

Please note that the CD version does not run correctly on Apple Mac computers using operating systems above 10.4 (Tiger).  However, copying the files from the CD to your computer hard drive, and running from there, does enable everything to run correctly.

You can buy the CD securely online in our shop, or in person or by post from: SDFHS Bookshop, PO Box 4502, Sherborne, Dorset DT9 6YL. Enquiries: 01935 389611 or email.

Remembering a generation: the World War One servicemen of West and Middle Chinnock

This book looks at the lives of 86 servicemen who were born in, or who lived in, the village before or during the Great War. It builds on the names recorded on the Rolls of Honour in the two churches, which included those who served in the forces and returned, as well as those who were killed in the fighting. In addition to the standard research sources for the period, the author has been able to contact the relatives of 56 of the 86 men, and then use family recollections and photographs kindly supplied by those relatives.

Phil Nichols has lived in West and Middle Chinnock since 1960, and he, his wife and their two daughters all attended the village primary school. Phil retired from his post as the senior professional librarian with Somerset’s Library Service in 2012. Since then, he has carried out project work for Somerset Archaeological & Natural History Society, prior to researching the contribution of the village in the Great War.

90 pages.  Soft covers.  Over-the-counter price £10.00. UK including postage:£13.35. Overseas including postage: £15.60.

The author, Phil Nichols, has written a post for our blog about his research while preparing the book, and the new contacts he has made since its publication.

 SDFHS Pedigree Index

The Society holds more than 3,500 sets of documents donated by members and others. The collection consists mainly of pedigrees and family trees, but also includes some copies of deeds and indentures, lists of names extracted from parish registers, a few wills and some family histories and biographical notes. The collection is continually increasing.

You can now download the index to the Pedigrees that we hold. This gives you basic information - surname, second surname, the number of pages in the Pedigree and an indication of the counties (in some cases countries overseas) referenced in the Pedigree - and can be used as a guide to the Pedigrees in our collection. Pedigree Team members will always be happy to check if a Pedigree is relevant to the family you are researching.

SDFHS Library Catalogue

At our Family History Centre in Sherborne we have a Library with more than 5,000 family, local, and military history items. Apart from the many books we also hold CDs, microfiches and maps. We are now able to make available, for download, the Catalogue to our Library in two versions, sorted by either Title or Category. 

Click here for further details of our Library holdings and to download the fully searchable PDFs.

Our online shop is open for business

We now have an online shop which you can access either by clicking here or from the horizontal menu bar above. You can use it to pay subscriptions (new memberships or renewals), order publications, pay research fees, and book places for events at our Sherborne Family History Centre. We also hope when making any purchases that you might consider adding a donation to the Society's general funds.

Payments in the shop will be made securely using PayPal, either with a PayPal account (if you have one) or with a credit/debit card, if you don't have a PayPal account. Simply browse the shop, fill your shopping basket and proceed to the check-out!

Please do explore the shop, even if you don't wish to purchase anything at the moment. We hope you will find it easy to use but if you experience any problems please contact us.

Our latest publication is now available from the online shop or from the bookshop at our Family History Centre in Sherborne.

Members' Forum

Our Members' Forum can be accessed at the right hand end of the horizontal menu bar above, or click here. To register to join the Forum, you must be a Member of the Society and you will need your membership number to complete your registration. This is number of up to four digits and it can be found above your address on any mailing from the Society, but if you are unsure of your number, or can't find it, send an e-mail and we'll send it to you. The Forum will give you the opportunity to share your research  with other members, register your own interests, and ask for help and advice. We hope you will find it both useful and enjoyable and would welcome your feedback and suggestions for developing and extending the Forum.

SDFHS Events for 2017

The programme of events at our Sherborne Family History Centre for 2017 can be found here although additional events will be added during the year, so please do check regularly.

Since the Centre is open on Saturday mornings, why not combine a visit to research your family history with an afternoon event? For details of the extensive programmes of talks organised by our local Groups (see below), click here.

SDFHS Groups

If you live in Somerset or Dorset, there is sure to be an SDFHS Group close to you. The Groups are one of the Society's greatest strengths as in addition to arranging interesting talks (the programmes can be found on their individual Group pages), most hold self-help events, and they are run by very experienced family historians who can help you with your research. Our Groups are all very friendly and informal and their events are open to non-Members so please do go along to a meeting if you are thinking of joining the Society and talk to Members - you will be made very welcome. Our Groups also represent the Society at local Family History Fairs and other events in their area.

Facebook and Twitter.

In addition to our Facebook Page we now have a rapidly-growing Facebook Group (go to Facebook and search on 'Somerset & Dorset Family History Society Group') where you can discuss your research with other members and anyone interested in the two counties. We can also be followed on Twitter.


Please do check out our Wordpress Blog (see also the right-hand column on this page) where you can add your e-mail address to be sure of receiving news when a new post is added. It includes accounts of recent activities such as our very successful 'pub walks' held in the summer and our Study-days and Workshops at our Sherborne Family History Centre, in addition to accounts of family history research undertaken by some of our members. We would love to hear from any members who have family or local history items that could be published on the Blog. Please e-mail if you would like to contribute an interesting snippet from your own research.

Somerset & Dorset Family History Society


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The Greenwood Tree – November 2016


The November issue of The Greenwood Tree is now in the post to members. The Editor, Bob Barber, presents a few items to whet your appetite. The cover includes a number of photographs collected recently by the the Society’s Photographs Project. They also act … Continue reading

Robert Goadby – founder of the ‘Western Flying Post’


When Patricia Goadby and her brother Michael arrived at the SDFHS Family History Centre one day to enquire about their illustrious ancestor, Robert Goadby, the founder of the Western Flying Post (now better known as the Western Gazette) we were about to … Continue reading