Dorset Record Office was founded in 1955, and was based in Dorchester, at County Hall. It moved to Bridport Road in 1991. The County Local Studies Library moved into the building in 2005, it then becoming known as Dorset History Centre. Serving Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole, the Office holds Dorset's local archives.
Whether you want to study the history of a house, research your genealogy or discover more about your local area, you will find the documents held of use.
These records include Parish Registers, Census Returns, Electoral Registers, Newspapers, Quarter Sessions, Maps and Photographs. They also have 500 hours of sound recordings relating to Dorset.
The knowledgeable and helpful staff are always on hand to help should you require assistance.
For information regarding their collections, please visit their Home Page and peruse their online catalogue. They also have a dedicated collections page, which gives details of collections held. Collections also include the Dorset Sound Archive, which cover many topics including school memories, Second World War as experienced by British and American services, local history, light industry and crafts, farming, social services, music and poetry.
It is prudent to look at the online catalogue prior to your visit, making a note of the reference numbers of the documents you wish to consult, to save time on the day.
Their opening hours can be found by going to their opening hours page. There is no need to book before visiting.
There are two railway stations in Dorchester that are both 10-15 minutes walk from the Office. Parking is limited, but there are three disabled parking spaces. More parking is available at Top o' Town and this has the facility for both long and short stays.
There is also a market car park which is 10 minutes walk from Dorset Record Office, but this is not available on Wednesdays. A park and ride service runs from Dorchester Town Football Ground on Weymouth Avenue to County Hall from Monday to Friday.
There is a Common Room where a packed lunch can be eaten and is also an area where you can chat to other visitors, but no food is sold. There are however various shops, cafes, pubs and sandwich shops nearby.
You are able to use a camera, but they make a charge to people wishing to take advantage of this service.
The Archive has a research service for people unable to visit in person.
The Archives is a member of the CARN (County Archive Research Network)