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.



The Sherborne Pageant of 1905

The next event at our Family History Centre will be on Saturday 4 July, 2.00-4.30pm.

"In 1904 Sherborne was a small sleepy town of about six thousand people, ‘a dull enough place to live in’, according to the Daily Express, bypassed by tourists heading for the coast of Cornwall and Devon. Twelve months later most of Britain knew the name of Sherborne, and many towns and cities were scrambling to stage their own historical play as ‘pageant fever’ swept the land". Cecil P. Goodden, The Story of the Sherborne Pageant (Sherborne, 1906).

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), will talk about how what happened in Sherborne inspired the pageantry movement right up to the present day.

This will also be an opportunity to measure progress on the project to identify the 900 pageant performers, which is being undertaken by Rachel Hassall, the Sherborne School Archivist, with help from SDFHS members.

There will be a refreshment break between the two talks. SDFHS members: £10. Non-members: £12. Details and booking form.

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.

Family History Open Day and SDFHS AGM 2015

The 2015 Open Day and AGM will be held on Saturday 19 September at the main Yeovil College site in Mudford Road, Yeovil, Somerset BA21 4DR. Please note this is a change of venue from that advertised in the May mailing. Directions and a map will be sent to all members with the August Greenwood Tree. The programme for the Open Day can be found here.

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.

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


Tracking down John Deacon – basketmaker in Bristol


Barbara Elsmore is researching the Deacon family of basketmakers  and here describes how enlisting the help of other SDFHS members helped her to track down a missing son. On Saturday 16 May Barbara will be talking in Sherborne about basketmaking … Continue reading

Preview of the May ‘Greenwood Tree’


We have experienced a little local difficulty with the production of the May edition of The Greenwood Tree, and we apologise if its delivery is slightly later than usual. The printers we have used for over 20 years, FWB Printing … Continue reading

The US Civil War


2015 marks the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the end of the US Civil War and to commemorate this we had four talks at our Family History Centre in Sherborne on Saturday 11 April. The event was the inspiration … Continue reading

William Rashley: was he a scoundrel?


Jane Harrington, a member of the SDFHS, tells the story of her great grandfather and the unanswered questions about his life and marriage. My great grandfather, William John Rashley, born in Burton Bradstock in 1861, died quite young. We knew that because … Continue reading