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


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 Family History Open Day and Annual General Meeting

The 2015 SDFHS Family History Open Day and Annual General Meeting will be held on Saturday 19 September, 9.30am - 4.00pm at Yeovil College, Mudford Road, Yeovil BA21 4DR. Please note that this is a change of venue from that previously advertised. A map has been sent to all members with the August Greenwood Tree.

Full details.

SDFHS Annual Report and Accounts for 2014.

The Society's 2014 Family History Open Day, including our Annual General Meeting, was held in Weymouth on Saturday 20 September. Read about it here. The Minutes of the 2014 AGM will be uploaded shortly.

Now available - 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 the most recent, August 2015, can now be purchased as PDFs on one fully-searchable CD (or memory stick). The November 2015 edition will in due course be made available here for free download to complete the set.

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

Consultation on the content of the 2021 census

Ever since 1841 the census has created comprehensive snapshots of information about people living in the British Isles. Each census is a vital source for family historians - including those in a 100 years' time who will want to find out about us and our contemporaries.
The next census in England and Wales will take place in 2021 and the Federation of Family History Societies is encouraging researchers to engage with the consultation exercise of the Office for National Statistics, asking the public which types of information they think should be included.  It is suggested, for example, that attention should be given to details that we need to know about each person but which were not fully covered in 2011, such as:
  • Names in full, including maiden names
  • Full place of birth - ie: village, town or city; county (or local equivalent) and country.
The census consultation website is only a click away. If you want to go directy to the questionnaire click here.
This opportunity is open to everyone, whether individuals or organisations. You can answer as many or as few of the questions as you wish and the closing date is Thursday 27 August 2015.
The Federation of Family History Societies has already submitted its own response to the consultation and are happy for individuals to include material from it when sending in their own response.

East Dorset Group

On Saturday 18 July 2015, our East Dorset Group represented the Society at the Community Event held at the Priest's House Museum in Wimborne. There was a steady stream of visitors throughout the day and John Tanner and Rita Pettet were on hand to answer enquiries and help people with their family history research. The East Dorset Group's monthly talks' programme takes place in the Hilda Coles Centre at the Priest's House - full details can be found here.

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 Sherborne Pageant of 1905

On Saturday 4 July Dr Tom Hulme and Dr Paul Readman, of The Redress of the Past: Historical Pageants in Britain, 1905-2016 project (which is examining historical pageants in twentieth century Britain), gave talks at our Family History Centre about the Sherborne Pageant which inspired the pageantry movement right up to the present day.

Rachel Hassall, the Sherborne School Archivist, and Barry Brock then gave a progress report on the joint Sherborne School/SDFHS project which is indentifying participants and tracing their later lives.

For a summary of the event see our blog, and for a description of Tom and Paul's visit to Sherborne see here.

Hardy Marriages in Somerset and Dorset: 1561-1922 and Hardy Baptisms in Somerset and Dorset 1540-1920

Do you have Hardy ancestors in Somerset or Dorset? The SDFHS holds an extensive Dorset Hardy names archive at the Family History Centre in Sherborne, much of it donated to the Society in 2012 by Brenda Tunks, and then organised for researchers’ use by Dorothy Bower and Chris Storrar. Rose Figgins is now preparing a searchable database of Somerset and Dorset Hardy baptisms, marriages and burials, and Hardy Marriages in Somerset and Dorset: 1561 - 1922 and Hardy Baptisms in Somerset and Dorset 1540-1920 have now been made available online to members in our Members' Forum. Dorothy and Chris both have Hardy ancestors, as does Rose's husband, Pete. Rose is currently doing a final check of the burials and these will be uploaded to the Forum as soon as this work is finished.

May 2015 edition of The Greenwood Tree

The May edition of our award-winning Journal The Greenwood Tree was mailed to members during the first week of May and you can read a summary of the contents by the Editor, Bob Barber, here.

Did any of your Somerset or Dorset ancestors fight in the US Civil War?

You can read a summary on our blog of our very successful event held on Saturday 11 April.

Members' Forum

Our Members' Forum is now live and 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.

Mills on the Yeo 

The November 2013 issue of The Greenwood Tree has a review by Colin Dean of Martin Bodman's Mills on the Yeo and the men who worked them here. The book is available from our bookshop: Price £10 to personal callers. By post: £12.60 UK and £15.30 overseas. Fully illustrated with photographs and maps, it describes nearly 90 water-powered sites within the Yeo basin, with a wealth of information on named men who worked in and around the mills


Subscriptions for 2015

The annual rate for UK members is £18 (£20 for family membership) and for overseas members £22 and £24. You can now pay your subscription to the Society using a credit/debit card or a PayPal Account online, or post a sterling cheque to: Membership Secretary, SDFHS, PO Box 4502, Sherborne, Dorset DT9 6YL.

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. If you wish to apply for Membership, click here to download the application form and then post to: Membership, SDFHS, PO Box 4502. Sherborne, Dorset DT9 6YL.

SDFHS Events for 2015

The programme of events at our Sherborne Family History Centre for 2015 is now available - full details. 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. The Group programmes for 2015 are being uploaded as they are received.

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, 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


‘The Greenwood Tree’ 1975-2015 – now available as PDFs


All editions published to date of the SDFHS award-winning journal The Greenwood Tree are now digitally available in fully-searchable PDFs, as the Editor, Bob Barber, explains. In the August edition of The Greenwood Tree we announced that we are making … Continue reading

SDFHS 40th Anniversary


We are celebrating our 40th Anniversary in 2015, reflected in the content of the latest edition of The Greenwood Tree, as summarised by the Editor, Bob Barber. 40 years on, and to mark the occasion this anniversary edition of The … Continue reading

Reflections on a Family History Journey


In spring this year Kerri Curtis made the long journey from Tasmania to the south-west of England, tracing the history of her family back to villages in Somerset and Dorset. It was my mother who inspired in me an avid … Continue reading

The Sherborne Pageant of 1905


In 1905, to mark the 1,200th anniversary of the founding of the town of Sherborne by Bishop St. Aldhelm in 705, the local Church Council decided to mark the event with a historical pageant which, during the planning, grew in … Continue reading