SDFHS Sherborne Events, and events where the SDFHS will be represented

For enquiries about SDFHS events at our Sherborne Family History Centre e-mail or phone: 01935 389611. Please note that places are limited for all Sherborne events, so early booking is advised.

You can now book and pay for Sherborne events, securely, using our online shop.

If you prefer to send a sterling cheque, please download the booking form, complete it and post it to: SDFHS Events, PO Box 4502, Sherborne, Dorset, DT9 6YL.

Download booking form

Details of SDFHS Group events throughout Somerset and Dorset can be found on individual Group pages, click here.

* indicates SDFHS attendance at an event organised by another FHS or organisation.




Feb 20, 2016 - 02:00 PM to 04:30 PM

From Altar to Archive: The Life and Works of Canon C. H. Mayo (1845-1929).

Luke Mouland, local historian and genealogist, will review the life of The Rev. Charles Herbert Mayo who spent all his clerical life in Dorset. When not tending to his congregations, he dedicated his time to looking into the county's rich history, leaving behind an extensive collection of books, pedigrees and manuscripts. At the time, he was one of the county's most eminent historians, so how is it that his name has now been largely forgotten? With the aid of his correspondence and private research papers, this talk will examine Canon Mayo's contribution to Dorset's heritage, and seek to understand the man behind the text.

Luke Mouland is a local historian and genealogist.

Includes refreshment break.

SDFHS Members; £8. Non-members: £10. Download booking form at top of page.


Mar 19, 2016 - 10:30 AM to 03:30 PM

SDFHS Photographic Project Open Day

We are setting up a searchable database of photographs of named people from Somerset and Dorset and to make this project a success we need contributions from members and friends. At this first Open Day local members are invited to bring photographs in to the Family History Centre so that they can be scanned and the data inputted by our team. For more details see:

There is no charge for this event and no need to book in advance.


Apr 6, 2016 to May 4, 2016

Essential Family History

The first session of a five week evening course, with Ted Udall. Also on 13, 20, 27 April and 4 May

7.00pm - 9.00pm.

SDFHS members £30 for the five sessions. Non-members £35. includes hand-outs. Download booking form at the top of the page.


Apr 30, 2016 - 02:00 PM to 04:30 PM

One-Name and One-Place Studies

Have you ever wondered what a One-Name or One-Place Study is and how to go about starting one? Col. Iain Swinnerton, founder of the Guild of One-Name Studies, and Sue Thornton-Grimes, the GOONS Dorset representative, will explain One-Name Studies and Bette Baldwin of the Friends of Hoar Oak Cottage, on Exmoor, will discuss her own experience of undertaking a One-Place Study.

Sue Thornton-Grimes: An Introduction to the Guild of One Name Studies.

This talk will tell you about the Guild, its activities and the support it offers to those who are carrying out research not just into their own ancestors, but others who also bore the same surname or variant.

Bette Baldwin: From Shepherds Cott to Conserved Ruin: finding and sharing the history of one small place on Exmoor. 

When Ruth Sedgbeer died in 2010 the search for her relatives resulted in an Heir Hunters TV programme which brought two of her family together for the first time.  They decided to investigate and save the history and heritage of the remote cottage on Exmoor where their ancestors had once lived and worked as shepherds. That search turned into a project to find out more about Hoar Oak Cottage and track down every family who had ever lived and worked there; to understand why they had come to be there and what their lives would have been like.  Bette Baldwin's talk will tell the story of their journey and what they found.

SDFHS Members: £8. Non-members: £10. Download booking form at top of page.


May 12, 2016 - 02:30 PM to 03:30 PM

Romans in the West Country

John Smith, an archaeologist who has given many talks on Roman  Britain will describe how the Roman Period in Somerset and Dorset still influences how we live today. The Romans and Romano-Britons were the first family historians in Britain, providing evidence for discovering several generations through their written history, family inscriptions and even personalised possessions.

SDFHS Members and Non-members: £5. Download booking form at the top of the page.


Jun 11, 2016 - 02:00 PM to 04:30 PM

The Battle of Jutland and the First World War at sea

One of the many factors that contributed to the outbreak of the the First World War was the naval rivalry between Germany and the UK, which had seen the German Navy rise from a second-rate force in the early 1890s to the second largest in the world by 1914. Yet the 'decisive battle' that both sides had anticipated never happened, the only encounter between the complete battlefleets of the two powers being the 'score draw' of the Battle of Jutland, which took place a century ago, on 31 May/1 June 1916. This afternoon we will look at the story of the war at sea during the Great War and the place of the battle within it, in which many of the British sailors came from Devonport, and who were among the 6,000 who lost their lives during it.

Dr Aidan Dodson, is a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Archaeology & Anthropology at the University of Bristol, and while best known as an Egyptologist, has also been researching and writing on naval history since the 1990s. His new book, The Kaiser's Battlefleet: German capital ships 1871–1918 is due to be published by Seaforth in the spring of 2016.

SDFHS Members: £8. Non-members £10. Download booking form at the top of the page.


Jul 16, 2016 - 02:00 PM to 04:30 PM

Marriage Law for Genealogists

In two talks Professor Rebecca Probert of the University of Warwick will discuss how the laws relating to marriage, divorce and bigamy have changed over the centuries and assess the implications for genealogists trying to unravel their own family histories.

Legal requirements and actual practice

This talk explains how, when and where people in past centuries married. Family historians just starting out will find advice on where ‘missing’ marriages are most likely to be found, while those already well advanced in tracing their family tree will be able to interpret their discoveries to better understand their ancestors’ motivations in this most personal and universal of areas, and whether their choices made them exceptional or normal for their day. This talk exposes the mistaken assumptions and folklore which lie behind most accounts of pre-twentieth-century marriage practices, and replaces them with the results of many years of painstaking primary research.

Divorced, Bigamist, Bereaved – Interpreting Your Ancestors’ Second (and Subsequent!) Marriages

It’s very likely that some of your ancestors married more than once over their lifetime. But why precisely? and what can their remarriages tell us? How likely was remarriage after a bereavement, and what social and legal factors affected that decision? Was divorce an easy way out of marriage? If people committed bigamy, what were the likely consequences for all concerned? Drawing on thousands of cases, from the Old Bailey to magistrates’ courts, this talk provides new research findings on the nature and extent of remarriage in past centuries and decades to help family historians interpret their ancestors’ lives.

Dr Patricia Spencer, the SDFHS Membership Secretary, will also describe briefly a case study - her Grandfather’s bigamous marriages.

Professor Rebecca Probert (School of Law, University of Warwick) is particularly interested in the historical definition and treatment of marriage, bigamy, and cohabitation. Her reassessment of the Clandestine Marriages Act of 1753 was published in 2009, and her history of the law's treatment of cohabiting couples in 2012, both by Cambridge University Press. She is also the author of Marriage Law for Genealogists; the definitive Guide and Divorced, Bigamist, Bereaved? both of which are available at the SDFHS bookshop:

SDFHS members: £8. Non-members: £10. Download booking form at top of page.


Sep 24, 2016 - 10:00 AM to 04:00 PM

SDFHS Open Day and AGM 2016

The 2016 SDFHS Family History Open Day and Annual General Meeting will be held at The Exchange, Old Market Hill, Sturminster Newton, DT10 1FH on Saturday 24 September. Further details will be posted as soon as they are available.

This is a free event and there is no need to book places.