Friends of Somerset Archives events
Somerset Heritage newsletters

News in brief

Example handwriting - poor law settlement certificate

"How to read Old Handwriting" course, Wednesday 24th June 2015, 9.30am-4.00pm

The South West Heritage Trust, in association with Somerset Skills and Learning, will be running a day course in palaeography (how to read old handwriting) on 24th June at the Somerset Heritage Centre. 

We will be looking at handwriting from the 1500s to the 1800s, and using examples of the types of documents you might expect to find in the course of local and family history research.  The course will be led by archivists Esther Hoyle and Jane de Gruchy. 

The day costs £20 per person (£10 concessions).  Space is limited.  To book your place, please contact the Somerset Heritage Centre on 01823 278805 or by email at

New Family History Course - "Archives for Family History"

This course is now fully booked, but we plan to hold another one in the autumn (dates to follow).  We also plan to hold a one-day palaeography (reading historic handwriting) course on 24th June. 

The South West Heritage Trust, in association with Somerset Skills and Learning, is running a new 5-week course for people wanting to find out more about family history. The course, to be held at the Somerset Heritage Centre in Taunton, will focus on how to use and interpret key archive sources for family history.  It will be tutored by archivists based at the Heritage Centre and will run every Tuesday from 21 April to 19 May 2015, 10.00 am to 12.30 pm.

The course is designed to help researchers feel confident about visiting an archive and exploring the documents they will find there.  Topics covered will include document handling, census and church records, the records of the poor law and the workhouse, reading old handwriting and understanding common Latin phrases.

The course costs £48 per person (£24 concessions).  Space is limited.  To book your place, please contact the Somerset Heritage Centre on 01823 278805 or by email at


Closed Period 2014
Our annual closed period took place 20-31 January.  This year's projects included: cataloguing Weston super Mare building control plans and over 1,500 posters for events in Weston super Mare; re-boxing over 1,600 boxes of records; sorting and re-shelving 100 boxes of library records; and many other tasks. To see more about what we got up to, please see our Closed Period leaflet.

Find us on Facebook!
Somerset Heritage Service now has a Facebook page - search for Somerset Heritage. We update it every week, so do have a look to see what we're up to and our latest discoveries!

Somerset Heritage Trust Development Project
On 20 March 2013, it was agreed in principle by Somerset County Council that the Somerset Heritage Service (Archives & Local Studies, the Historic Environment and Museums ) would aim to move to a trust during 2014.
A final decision about whether to move into a trust will be taken by Cabinet in November 2013.  At the moment, we are looking in detail at the financial model and how the trust would run. We will also be engaging with a wide range of people to ensure that we understand your views about this possible change.  To find out more about these proposals, please see the Somerset Heritage Development Trust webpage.

Somerset Manorial Documents Register Project

An exciting project to produce an online index of all of Somerset’s existing manorial documents started at Somerset Archives & Local Studies in June 2013, for 18 months.  The Project Archivist is Scott Pettitt.

The project will involve:

  • Researching the manors of the historic county of Somerset and creating a definitive list of these manors.
  • Checking and updating the existing MDR information for Somerset, covering records held at the Somerset Heritage Centre, The National Archives and other repositories.
  • Finding manorial documents not on the current register – for example, by cataloguing previously unlisted records.

To find out more, please look at our dedicated Somerset Manorial Documents Register page

Part of a map of the Manors of Pensford, Publow and Woollard, 1776

The Friends of Somerset Archives

Tithe map

The Friends of Somerset Archives hold their own events, at the Heritage Centre and elsewhere, for members and others who are enthusiastic about finding out about Somerset's past.  Events held so far this year include a talk on the Land Army and a visit to the UK Hydrographic Office. 

The Friends are also supporting the work of the Archives & Local Studies Service through their two projects: transcribing Somerset's tithe apportionments and carrying out preservation work on the Dickinson collection.

To find out more about the Friends - or if you would like to get involved - please see the Friends of Somerset Archives website (new window)