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Explore your Family and Local History


A new programme of courses designed to help local people explore their family and local history has been announced by the South West Heritage Trust.


The courses start in November and will be held at the Somerset Heritage Centre in Taunton. The centre provides access to 20 million historic documents and local history sources, the earliest of which dates from the 8th century.


House, family and local history 


The 2016–17 courses will focus on how to use and interpret key archive sources for a range of topics including house, family and local history. They will be tutored by experienced archivists from the heritage centre.


Esther Hoyle, Senior Archivist with the South West Heritage Trust, said: “Whether researching the history of a village, a house or a family there is no better place to start exploring Somerset’s extraordinary historical records.


“Our courses are designed to help researchers feel confident about using the heritage centre and interpreting the documents they find there.”


The 2016 - 2017 programme


  • NEW for 2016 - Online Resources help day – 21 November (detail below)

  • Resources for Local History (1 day): 23 November 2016, 10.00 am–3.30 pm (£15)

  • Archives for House History (2 days): 13 & 20 March 2017, 9.30 am–4.00 pm (£48)

  • How to Read Old Handwriting (1 day): 21 February 2017, 9.30 am–4.00 pm (£20) - FULLY BOOKED 

  • Archives for Family History (2 days) – 9  & 10 May 2017, 9.30 am – 4.00 pm (£48)

  • Archives for Family History follow on (4 weeks): Mondays from 19 June 2017 to 10 July 2017, 10.00 am-2.00 pm (£48), (ideal for people who have already been on the Archives for Family History course)


NEW for 2016 - Online Resources help day


For the first time the heritage centre will also be offering a day of free bookable sessions to provide assistance with online resources. These include the recently re-launched Somerset and Devon Archive Catalogues. The sessions will run as part of the national Explore Your Archive campaign and will be held on Monday 21 November 2016 from 10.00 am - 3.15 pm. Sessions on offer will be half hour help sessions designed to assist people with specific research enquiries and one hour general sessions designed to give an overview of online resources.

How to book


Space on all courses and sessions is limited. To book your place please contact the Somerset Heritage Centre on 01823 278805 or email


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