East Dorset

Our friendly and active East Dorset Group was established early in 1977 with just nine members. Growing over the years, at one point numbering 80, we have now settled back to around 40 members.  Meetings are usually held on a Monday evening at the Hilda Coles Learning Centre at the Priests House Museum, Wimborne (click here for a map).

At almost all meetings we have a speaker for about an hour followed by questions and we try to obtain two or three home grown speakers a year. The periods before and after the speaker's Q and A session are used for advice and socialising, ending with tea or coffee and biscuits, at which the Committee members circulate and welcome new visitors. We display a Group Notice Board keeping members up to date with activities of the Society and the Group and identifying Group personalities.

We run a Help Desk using a laptop connected to the internet to answer queries. We maintain a Folder for inspection containing notices recently received from the Society Headquarters, in Sherborne and other information received on developments in the Family History world. We always try to add a Christmas party or social element to our December Meeting. In the past year we have run two Computer Help Days on a Saturday to advise members and the public not only on family history orientated computer enquiries, including demonstrations of the programmes available in this field, but also the use of computers generally. These Help Days utilise the extensive IT experience of seven of our Members.

Please note that access to the Learning Centre in the evening is via the rear doors off Crown Mead not through the usual day-time entry point to the Museum off the High Street. The rear doors are adjacent to the Library.

Meetings are at 7.30pm for 8.00pm.


Sue Stevens E-mail Phone: 01202 889488 or Anne Pennell E-mail Phone: 01202 848023

Programme 2018

15 January  Eight Generations, One Passion: history of Stewarts' Garden Centres – Martin Stewart

19 February Joseph Clark: a popular Victorian artist - Eric Galvin

19 March Members' Evening - What did your Father/Mother do in the war?

16 April  A Freezing Horror: the wreck of the Halsewell, 1785 - Philip Brown

21 May Unlocking the Bankes Archive - David Beardsley

18 June Members evening: A Photo/object from the past

16 July Tracing your London ancestors - Jane Fox

20 August What does Mr & Mrs Elephant have to do with tracing your family? A learning game for all levels.

17 September Here and there: family history relating to imprisonment and transportation - Mike Randall

Saturday 22 September (2.00-4.30pm) The SDFHS 2018 Open Day and AGM, hosted by the East Dorset Group in Wimborne Minster. Details.

15 October Life and Time of William Stanley Prince: A sailor in WW1 - Alan Brown

19 November  The part Poole and its surrounds played in UK aviation – Kevin Patience

17 December  Mince pies and Traditions of Christmas Past  



Directions for finding the Centre are set out below with a map (right). If you are attending an evening meeting at the Centre, you must enter by the rear double doors. You cannot enter via the front door to the Museum itself in High Street. You reach the rear doors by using Crown Mead where the doors adjoin the Library.  The entrance to Crown Mead if approaching from the Minster is situate between Goadsbys Estate Agents and Salamander. Crown Mead then runs through past the Library to the Cooperative Supermarket. 

The nearest car parks are the public car parks at the Cooperative Supermarket and the King Street Car Park near the Minster


We look forward to seeing you at the Learning Centre.