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.


Rita Pettit. Phone: 01202 772327. E-mail

Programme 2017

16 January        ABM, followed by 'Dorset Curiosities' – Alan Brown

20 February      My Ancestors were….. Members’ Workshop

20 March           Records of East Dorset Villages held by the Priest House Museum - James Webb 

24 April              Is Granny on the Web?  -  Research on the Internet - Pat Hilbert

15 May               Dorset Victoria Crosses 1857-1944 - Kevin Patience

19 June              School Log Books - Mike Randall  

17 July               My Ancestors Travelled To/From - Members’ Workshop

21 August           Wartime Letters 1809 - John Boys

                           Society Memorial Inscriptions - John Damon

18 September     Searching for Sandford: constructing a Village History - Ben Buxton

16 October          Villages & people around Wimborne in Archive Photos - David Keig of The Priest House

20 November       The Quaker Businesses in Britain - John Avery

18 December       Quiz – Pictures & Artefacts



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.