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 Greenwood Tree - November 2015

The November edition of The Greenwood Tree has now been mailed to members shortly and you can find a preview of the contents, written by the Editor, Bob Barber, here.

As promised we are making this edition available for free download so that those who have already purchased the 40th Anniversary CD/memory stick with all editions of the journal from the very first issue to August 2015, can complete their sets to date. 

Our online shop is now 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.

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


Open Day and Annual General Meeting 2015

The 2015 SDFHS Family History Open Day and Annual General Meeting was held on Saturday 19 September at Yeovil College.

After an opening introduction by our President, Sir Mervyn Medlicott, the Editor of The Greenwood Tree, Bob Barber, gave a fascinating and informative talk about the journal's origins and development over the forty years since the Society was founded. Colin Dean also described his time as Editor.

The Society's Annual General Meeting followed at 12 noon and members approved several administrative changes to the Society's constitution, and also approved the re-introduction of three-yearly subscriptions (see further below). Our Treasurer, Rose Figgins, reported that the Society's accounts showed a surplus for 2014 and she is optimistic that the 2015 Accounts will also show a surplus on the year.

After a lunch break, the final talk of the day Anecdotes from Medieval Village Life was given by Dr Ed Lorch of the Tintinhull Local History Group who described the lives of ordinary villagers in Tintinhull (about 5 miles from Yeovil) and how their experiences were typical of most villagers in Medieval England. 

Joining the Society towards the end of the subscription year

Our subscription year runs from 1 January to 31 December but if you join the Society after 1 November in any year your first year's subscription will cover 14 months, expiring at the end of the following year. You will be entitled to use our members' facilities with immediate effect (though you do not receive the November edition of The Greenwood Tree but the 2015 November issue can be downloaded for free).

Current annual subscription rates are: UK individual £18; UK Family £20; Overseas Individual £22; Overseas Family: £24. The same annual rates will apply for 2016 but in addition, we will again be offering discounts for members who subscribe for three years (2016-2018). These rates will be: UK Individual £50; UK Family £56; Overseas Individual £62; Overseas Family £68.

If you would like to join the Society for 2016 (or 2016-2018) download the 2016 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.

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 can be downloaded (see above) 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.

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.

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.

SDFHS Events for 2015 and 2016

The programme of events at our Sherborne Family History Centre for the last few months of 2015 can be found here and we are starting to add details of events early in 2016. 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, 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 Pasley Engine Company, Sherborne


On Saturday 21 November 2015 we held our second successful ‘Sherborne’s Industrial Archaeology’ day, chaired by George Tatham and with talks on several fascinating topics by Barry Brock and Graham Bendell. Here Graham summarises the history of William Henry Pasley … Continue reading

The Greenwood Tree – preview of the November 2015 edition


The November 2015 issue of The Greenwood Tree will be appearing soon, and we have another larger-than-usual edition this time – 36 pages of articles, regular features and news. Following the very successful Rid(e)out symposium held at the Family History … Continue reading

More Family Treasures


Barbara Elsmore has been scouring the charity shops of Sherborne collecting items, with no apparent monetary value, and using them to create a display at our Family History Centre where she hopes they will act as reminders to members and … Continue reading

Do you have a carpenter in the family?


Barbara Elsmore describes how learning a new trade enabled her great-grandfather, George Collings, to improve his own life and that of his descendants. Many of his carpentry tools are still in the family and some are now on display in … Continue reading