Library & Archive

Local History Library and Research

The Library

Our local history library houses a large collection of books on a wide variety of subjects mainly covering Dorset and Wiltshire but also books of a more general historical nature. In particular the library has a selection of books relating to the history of Shaftesbury and surrounding villages. To back this up there is much material of archival nature, school records, magazines and photographs.

The library is available free for members of the Shaftesbury & District Historical Society; for all others we do ask for a discretionary donation towards the museum’s funds.

To make an appointment Tel: 01747 852157



The Library is the first stop for researchers of Shaftesbury’s history as well as the surrounding villages. In addition to its collection of books it has a large collection of maps, a digitized collection of over 700 Shaftesbury wills with index, copies of deeds, historical trade adverts for Shaftesbury, sale catalogues for Shaftesbury and village estates including that of the great sale of Shaftesbury in 1919. Much material is now being put onto computer and there is an online terminal available in the bright comfortable research area. The Borough Catalogue, published by the Dorset History Centre, is a valuable reference for those wishing to research the Corporation’s material now housed at the Dorset History Centre in Dorchester.

Research News

The Library, together with volunteers from the local history group of the U3A, are furthering the history of Shaftesbury streets and knowledge gained will be digitized.

The Pembroke Survey

The Shaftesbury section of the Survey of the Lands of William First Earl of Pembroke, recorded on 16th century vellum rolls, has been transcribed and now awaiting publication. It should be a useful source of information for researchers of this period.

Sun and Moon Cottage

The history of the Sun and Moon Cottage, once an inn and which now forms part of Gold Hill Museum, is being researched from the 14th century to the present. People and events associated with the building will be told in a booklet in due course. If anyone can contribute information concerning the building they are invited to get in touch with the Museum preferably by email at –

John Rutter Book

John Rutter’s book titled “An Historical and Descriptive Account of the Town of Shaftesbury” was due to be published by him in 1827 but never was, however some typed copies have survived which were in need of correcting and updating. Using these copies it has been possible to reconstruct Rutter’s book in digital form. This work will be published by The Shaftesbury & District Historical Society sometime in the near future.

Gold Hill Museum Library
Gold Hill Museum Library