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 2017 - Monday 1 January 2018. 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 2017 Open Day and AGM

The Society’s annual Open Day, including the Annual General Meeting, is being organised this year by our Taunton Group, and will be held in Cheddon Fitzpaine Village Hall on Saturday 23 September (9.30am-4.00pm). Full details can also be found here.

The Agenda for the Annual General Meeting (at 3.00pm) and summary Accounts for 2016 will be sent to all members with the September issue of The Greenwood Tree. The full version of the Trustees' Annual Report and Financial Statement for 2016 can be downloaded here.

Creating a Personalised Family Tree

Have you ever felt frustrated by the limitations of, and the problems of printing, the family trees generated by your genealogy program?

We have a new website page where you can see how one of our Volunteers, Barbara Elsmore, has been able to design and create her own personalised family tree with photographs. Do check it out and let us know if it inspires you to try something similar.


East Dorset Railway Staff

We are very pleased to announce that an important dataset has been added to the Members’ Area of our website, thanks to the generosity of Peter Russell (of the Somerset & Dorset Railway Heritage Trust). Together with Colin Divall, Emeritus Professor of Railway Studies at York University, he has been studying the railways around East Dorset, including the careers and families of those who worked on the railway from the 1840s to the 1970s, particularly in the Wimborne area, where both Peter and Colin grew up.

With the help of genealogical research undertaken by Peter’s wife Kay, they have compiled a dataset from all useful sources, including census records, railway company staff records, books, magazines, deposited archives, community memory, etc. Although focused on the Wimborne area, many staff progressed up the staff hierarchy and/or moved between locations for career progression or other reasons, so if your ancestors worked elsewhere on the railway, they may still be included in the dataset. Please do check it out.

The photograph above shows the staff at Wimborne Station posing in the station forecourt, circa 1890. No names are known for definite, but ranks are evident from the different uniforms. The Station Master is sitting at the front, just left of centre, bearded and with cap badge. There was a changeover of Station Master around this date, so it may be Champness William Edwards or William Forward. Photograph courtesy of the Priest’s House Museum, Wimborne 


10,000 Fallen Remembered on Dorset War Memorials - Murial Monk

A bargain! We have reduced the over the counter price to £5.00 (it was originally £12.00).

The book is a compilation of all the names of those who lost their lives in both World Wars and recorded on war memorials in Dorset, as well as a few names of those who died in earlier conflicts.

The book is accompanied by a CD also containing all the names of those who lost their lives, but also including photographs of all the memorials, organised village by village. The book acts as an index to the names.

The CD includes additional memorials, discovered after the book was published, and the names listed on them. The CD includes a separate index of these additional names.

If you aren't able to come to the Bookshop at our Sherborne Family History Centre, you can order the book from our online shop where the prices include postage (UK or Overseas) or from: Book Sales, SDFHS, PO Box 4502, Sherborne, Dorset DT9 6YL.


Joining the Society

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

Our subscription year runs from 1 January to 31 December (and includes four issues of The Greenwood Tree) and current annual subscription rates are:

UK individual: £18

UK Family: £20

Overseas Individual: £22

Overseas Family: £24.

If you subscribe for three years (2017-2019), you will get a discount and the three-year rates are: UK Individual £50; UK Family £56; Overseas Individual £62; Overseas Family £68.

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.

Renewing your membership

If you haven't yet renewed your membership for 2017, it is not too late to do so, and ensure that you receive all four issues (March, June, September and December) of The Greenwood Tree.  A renewal form can be downloaded here.

Sherborne Pageant Participants Project

In 1905, to mark 1,200 years since the founding of the town, Sherborne staged a historical pageant, which involved around 900 local people. In 2010 Rachel Hassall, the Archivist of Sherborne School, which holds many of the original records of the Pageant including numerous photographs, began to research the participants involved in the Pageant. Following a very successful event held at our Family History Centre on 12 July 2015 (summary) it was agreed that the Society would continue Rachel’s research into the participants of the Sherborne Pageant as an official SDFHS Project (now coordinated by Barbara Elsmore), since this is a valuable family history resource for people with ancestors from Sherborne and the surrounding area.

For more details see here, where you can find a downloadable list of all the known participants and biographical profiles which are being prepared by Barbara and Rachel.

22.02.17: Rachel Hassall has uploaded to YouTube a short film clip of the procession at the end of the Pageant. This is wonderfully evocative so please do have a look - click here.


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. 


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

We 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' Area

Our Members' Area can be accessed at the right hand end of the horizontal menu bar above, or click here. To access the Area, you must be a current 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 Memebrs' Area gives you the opportunity to share your research with other members, register your own interests, and ask for help and advice.

You can also download fully-searchable PDFs of issues of The Greenwood Tree and data sets of family history information produced by our research volunteers.

We hope you will find it both useful and enjoyable and would welcome your feedback and suggestions for developing and extending the Members' Area.


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.


Social Media

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 family history stories by our members and 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.


Contact the Society

Somerset & Dorset Family History Society

P.O.Box 4502
Telephone: (01935) 389611

Somerset & Dorset Family History Society


Recent Update to Family Tree Maker 


Well I have finally done it – I have downloaded Family Tree Maker 2017 and I am very happy about it. Why did this become such a big deal for FTM long term users like me? As I described in … Continue reading

Intriguing Photographs (1) – Some Answers


My thanks to Gareth for coming up with an answer to my query so promptly and pointing out that the castle in question is on Brownsea Island, in Poole Harbour, and known as Branksome Castle. The two photographs above are … Continue reading

Intriguing Photographs (- first in series)


We cannot help but be intrigued by mystery photographs. They may be of people staring out at us from long ago or they could be of buildings or locations now completely unknown to us. I would like to challenge you … Continue reading

The Greenwood Tree – June 2017


The June issue of The Greenwood Tree will be appearing shortly and is due to be posted to all 2017 Members this week. It can also be viewed and/or downloaded as a PDF file in the Members’ Area of our website. As … Continue reading