Our Family History Centre

The Family History Centre and the Society Headquarters are located in the heart of the beautiful town of Sherborne in Dorset. 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. The Centre is the first port of call for our many out of county and overseas visitors - please do let us know in advance if you are visiting from far afield. 

Where is the Family History Centre?

The Centre is located at The Parade, Cheap Street, Sherborne - close to the Abbey, between Sherborne Museum and Connell’s Estate Agents. For those using a sat nav the actual building postcode is DT9 3BJ. Click here for a map. We regret there is no parking at the Centre, although the nearest long-stay car park, the Culverhayes car park (DT9 3ED) off Long Street, is only a 5-minute walk away.

When are we open?

Day time - Monday, Friday and Saturday, 10.00am - 1.00pm, Thursday 10.00am to 4.00pm.

Evening - Third Tuesday of every month from 7.00pm to 9.00pm.

Entrance to the Family History Centre is free to members of the Society; non-members pay a day visitor’s fee of £3.

For dates we are closed in 2017, see below.

What will you find at the Family History Centre?

Parish Files

We have a file for every parish in Somerset and Dorset, and these contain transcriptions of many baptisms, marriages and burials in the parish church. Files may also contain similar details for other denominations, and the majority of the files also hold memorial inscriptions (MIs) and similar material. In some files you will find ‘parish packs’ which will give you additional background information.


The Library

The Society's Library has more than 4,000 family, local, and military history items, and apart from the many books you will find CDs, microfiches and maps. All together, these cover a wide range of relevant topics including village histories, areas of specialist research, and the works of many local authors. The collection includes The History of Somersetshire (1791) by the Rev. John Collison and The History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset (1861) by John Hutchins. Plus a full set of back copies of the Society journal, The Greenwood Tree. Books cannot be borrowed but our Volunteers can consult and search publications for you. We can also (subject to copyright restrictions) photocopy for you individual journal articles or up to 10% of a book, at 25p per page.

Access to Ancestry/Findmypast

There are six computers and you can access both of the above sites, plus many more available on the Internet. If you have not tried searching on-line before, then one of our volunteers will help you find your way.

SDFHS Indexes

A wide range of lists and indexes: some may be searched by yourself, others by a volunteer for a small fee. We can also search the Society’s large collection of donated pedigrees and family trees.

The Society's Bookshop

The Society's book shop has a stock of more than 800 titles, including the Society's own publications (mostly census indexes and some parish register transcriptions), an extensive selection of Somerset and Dorset local history books, indexes to Somerset and Dorset records, general genealogy and family history guides, historical maps, and binders for the Society journal, The Greenwood Tree. Click here for lists of books and further information



We can undertake research for you

If you are unable to visit the Centre in person you may like to contact the Research Team who will undertake research for you. This service is reasonably priced, and provided by volunteer members who will research on your behalf using the records held by the Society in the Research Centre.

Volunteer’s research: a minimum fee of £5 (Members) or £10 an hour (Non-Members) is charged for research work undertaken by volunteers. This is intended to cover administrative costs and up to an hour’s research. Any further research is charged at £5 an hour (SDFHS Members) or £10 an hour (non Members). For details of how to make payments to the Society click here.


The Society always welcomes new Volunteers, who can either work at the Society’s Family History Centre in Sherborne, or remotely from home. Volunteers, who will need to be computer-literate, play a huge part in welcoming visitors to the Centre and in caring for and adding to the Society’s records and databases. Please contact us if you are interested.

Volunteers with particular responsibilities are:

Contact us

By post: Somerset & Dorset FHS, PO Box 4502, Sherborne, Dorset, DT9 6YL, United Kingdom.

By email sdfhs@btconnect.com

By telephone: 01935 389611. The Family History Centre has a telephone answering machine to take calls when the Centre is closed. Someone will return your call when they are next at the Centre. 

When are we closed?

The Family History Centre is normally closed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays; as well as over Easter and Christmas, and on Bank Holiday Mondays. The Centre is also closed for Sherborne’s Pack Monday Fair.

Closures for 2017 are as follows (all date ranges inclusive): 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.