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.

Contact details as above.

Opening Hours

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

Third Tuesday of the month 7pm to 9pm


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.


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


What did your Ancestors do?

The next event at our Family History Centre at Sherborne is on Saturday 16 May and is the first in an occasional series which will look at our ancestors' work and skills and how their occupations often influenced who they met and their social lives. Barbara Elsmore will talk about Basketmaking Yesterday and Today andJohn Damon will discuss Families in the Utilities. Full details and booking form.

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.

February 2015 edition of The Greenwood Tree

The February edition of our award-winning Journal The Greenwood Tree was mailed to members at the end of January and you can read a summary of the contents by the Editor, Bob Barber, here

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.

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.

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.

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.

Family History Open Day and SDFHS AGM

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.




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

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.

Somerset & Dorset Family History Society


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

Making Baskets for Saddlers


While researching items in Sherborne Museum for a forthcoming exhibition on basketmaking I came across a photograph, donated by a member of the Deacon family, who made baskets here in Sherborne and in the nearby village of Nether Compton over … Continue reading

‘The Ridouts of Sherborne’ – writing up your family history


SDFHS member, Karen Francis, describes how she started investigating her Ridout ancestors and encourages other family historians to publish their research so that it can be preserved. In March 2004, I decided to find out a bit about my maternal grandparents, Reg and Elsie Ridout. … Continue reading