Unfortunately due to Covid-19 restrictions we are currently unable to offer behind-the scenes guided tours of the Somerset Heritage Centre.


Staff are happy to provide talks on the work of the Somerset Archives and Local Studies service and the records it holds. We are not able to visit you at present to give talks. However, please do get in touch if you would like us to give your group one of our talks online via Zoom.

We offer the following talks –

Introduction to the Somerset Heritage Centre

This talk provides a brief introduction to the history of the Somerset Archives service.  It provides an introduction to the main groups of records we hold (including church records, the records of the very rich and of the very poor), explains how we list and look after archives, and provides a summary of some of the other services we provide.

Research Your Somerset Family

Family historians make up the largest percentage of our users and with programmes such as Who Do You Think You Are? and the availability of websites such as Ancestry and Find My Past, family history or genealogy continues to grow in popularity.  This talk provides a brief introduction to the types of records that can help you put together your family tree.

How to Research the History of Your House

This talk covers some of the main sources available for house history research in the archives and suggests what information may be found in these sources.

Crime and Punishment

This talk includes information on documents from the history of crime prevention and crime punishment in Somerset.  Topics include the Assize courts and the Quarter Sessions, gaol records and the police.

Somerset Women

A look at ordinary women who are represented in a range of documents held at the Somerset Heritage Centre, including parish registers and correspondence.  Some notable examples are included and some interesting stories are uncovered.

Army Records and the Somerset Light Infantry

A talk detailing the history of the Somerset Light Infantry from 1685 – 1959, including its role in the 1st Afghan War, the 1st Burmese War, the two World Wars and the Malayan Emergency.  This is followed by details on the main sources held at the Somerset Heritage Centre and nationally for researching the British Army and the Somerset Light Infantry.

Tales from the Quarter Sessions: Somerset’s Criminal Past

The Quarter Sessions were the local court system in existence from 1363 – 1972, and heard all types of criminal and civil cases.  Using examples from the Somerset session papers, typical crimes such as larceny, drunkeness, adultery, illegitimacy and witchcraft are discussed.

Slums, Sewage and Sickness: Public Health and Housing in Taunton Deane

This talk is about certain aspects of the history of Taunton, its public health and housing.

Food in the Archives

Gathering and preparing food is obviously a topic that goes right back into the very beginnings of civilisation.  Our earliest recipe is from the 1600s, and we have recipes going right up to almost the present day.

Music in Somerset

The subject of music is vast, and one cannot hope to cover everything in an evening.  Instead, this talk shows glimpses into the history of music provided to us by records held at the Somerset Heritage Centre.

The Poor Law

“The Poor are always with us”.  In this talk we’ll look at the ways that England dealt with its poor over the centuries.

The Hyltons of Ammerdown

The Hylton estate archive is held at the Somerset Heritage Centre, and provides a fascinating insight into the lives of the people who owned and managed the estate, which has its seat at Ammerdown in Kilmersdon.  This talk tells some of these stories, ranging from coal-mining to politics and from engineering to local history.  It mainly concentrates on the 18th and 19th centuries.

Rural Somerset 1865 – 1914

Somerset is a very rural county, and this talk explores some of the challenges and changes taking place in the county during the period.  It looks at themes including agriculture, education and housing, as well as wider impacts such as overseas competition and national trends.  Find out how Somerset faired in the period up until the outbreak of the First World War.

Sources for Somerset Transport History

There has always been a need for people to get about and the geography of the large rural county of Somerset presented its own challenges.  This talk explains some of the sources that are available to research transport history in Somerset, particularly from the 18th century onwards.

Archives and the Weather

This talk examines instances of weather mentioned in documents held in Somerset archives.  The talk examines methods of predicting and recording weather, and uses the 1703 Great Storm as a case study for further research.


You can find a list of charges for tours and talks here.

To book your talk or tour please complete the booking form.

Or, for more information

Tel: 01823 278805