Somerset Record Office is based in Somerset Heritage Centre in Taunton.
The Office's aim is to collect and preserve documents relating to the history of Somerset to safeguard them for present and future generations.
The documents date from the 8th century to the present day.
It then makes these documents accessible to the public.
These archives include documents, manuscripts, maps and photographs.
They have a wide range of resources, so whether you are interested in the history of your community or local area, researching the history of a house, conducting research for a school, college or university assignment or conducting family history research, you will find the records and documents held of use.
The knowledgeable and helpful staff are always on hand to help should you have any questions or require assistance.
If you have any documents relating to the history of Somerset you would like to donate to the Archive to preserve them for future generations and to make them accessible to the public, they would love to hear from you.
For information regarding their collections, and any other ancillary information, please visit the their Home Page. Their online catalogue has approximately 430,000 catalogue entries and is updated on a monthly basis.
The Office is located in two buildings, building one contains the public searchroom, whilst people wishing to look at museum objects should use the research room in building two.
Opening hours can be found by perusing the appropriate section of the Office's Planning a Visit to Somerset Heritage Centre page.
The Archive is approximately 45 minutes walk from Taunton Railway Station. The nearest bus stop to the Office from this station is on Minehead Road at the Cross Keys pub.
A free car park is available for visitors to Somerset Heritage Centre, which has approximately 30 spaces. Three designated spaces are available for blue badge holders.
It is advisable to book a microfiche reader as the Archive can become very busy. You can also book a computer, but computers can only be booked for an hour although you may be able to use it for longer if they are not too busy.
The Archive requires 24 hours' notice to produce some photographs because they are retained in cold store to preserve them. These are clearly marked in their catalogue.
You are able to bring your own laptop with you. Please tell staff when booking so they know to reserve you a space with a power point.
Wi-Fi internet access is available in the searchroom.
You do not need to book to use one of the Office computers.
You are allowed to use your own camera to take photographs of documents, but you must obtain a photographic licence, for which the Office makes a charge. If you wish the Office to take a photograph on your behalf, they make a charge for this service.
You are allowed to take your own photocopies form library books, but any Archive material must be copied by a member of staff. They are usually able to photocopy documents, but this depends on the condition of the document, and its size.
You can also obtain printouts from microfiche and microfilm. One reader is connected to a computer, so you are able to transfer images to a memory stick, but before you can take advantage of this service, you have to purchase a photographic licence.
The buildings are fully accessible to disabled readers, and have disabled toilets. Lifts are available in both buildings.
A height-adjustable desk is accessible in the searchroom.
A hearing loop is available in the reception of Building One, in the searchroom, and in the Learning Room. A portable hearing loop covers the rest of the building.
A refreshment area containing tables and chairs is accessible to visitors. Hot drinks and snacks can be purchased in this area. Sandwich vans visit the premises at approximately 10.00 am and 1.00pm on each weekday. As there are no shops in the immediate vicinity of the Office, you should bring your own food.
The Office offers a research service for anyone unable to visit in person, where, for a fee, they are prepared to conduct research on your behalf.
If you wish to use an image obtained from Somerset Record Office, you must first obtain permission. It is advisable to make your request at least 5 weeks before you need to use the image. If the Office does not own the document concerned, they will have to obtain permission from its owner, and this process can take some time. You may have to pay a reproduction fee.
Somerset Heritage Centre is NOT a member of the CARN (County Archive Research Network), so you will have to register for a South West Heritage Trust reader's ticket, which are valid for four years. To obtain a ticket, you will have to bring identification containing your name, address and signature with you when you first visit.
You are allowed to use more than one item of identification for this purpose, which can include a driving licence, utility bill, credit card, bank card or official letter. These tickets are also valid at Devon Archives and Local Studies and North Devon Archive.
For further details regarding Record Offices in Somerset, please visit my page regarding Bath Archives.