Library & Archive

Local History Library and Research

The Library

Our local history library houses a collection of reference books mainly covering Dorset and Wiltshire, but also works of a more general historical nature. In particular the library has a selection of books relating to the history of Shaftesbury and surrounding villages.

The library has an archive of material relating to the local area, including school and parish magazines, records of local businesses, photographs, deeds, sale catalogues for the Shaftesbury and village estates , including the great sale of Shaftesbury in 1919.

The catalogue of our books is available on a computer system that is available to researchers in the library. Our volunteers have nearly completed the process of cataloguing our archive material.  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.

The library is available free for members of the Shaftesbury & District Historical Society and members of the public wishing to carry out research. As the museum is entirely staffed by part-time volunteers it is advisable to arrange your visit in advance.

To make an appointment to use the library telephone 01747 852157

or email:

Display Area

The area outside the library is used for the temporary display of items from the archives. Recent exhibitions have included the Peach family of shopkeepers and material illustrating the history of schools in Shaftesbury.


Photographs from Gold Hill Museum’s photographic collection feature prominently in Roger Guttridge’s Shaftesbury Through Time published in 2018 by Amberley.  Research into manuscripts, letters, publications and other documents relating to John Rutter, owned by The S&DHS, formed the basis of Sir John Stuttard’s The Turbulent Quaker of Shaftesbury. This was published in 2018 by The Hobnob Press on behalf of the S&DHS and is available from Gold Hill Museum.

Gold Hill Museum Library

Library & Archive News

Making The Local History Library More Accessible

Gold Hill Museum volunteer Jeanette Hardiman in the process of accessioning a copy of The Art of a Salesman, kindly donated by its author, Paul Whittaker. Jeanette has been through the entire stock of the Museum’s Reference Library – over 1600 volumes – entering basic information such as Title, Author, Date of Publication, Publisher, and ISBN into a searchable database. She has now identified up to 30 Keywords for each book so that future enquirers may find books, which they may not even have realised were relevant to their research interests.

Member of the volunteer Archives Team Janet Swiss has been fascinated by this handwritten leather-bound volume in immaculate copperplate. The contents are notes and transcriptions from the monthly Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society, mostly from the period 1815 to 1818, but with references to journals from the early days of this august scientific institution founded in Charles II’s reign. The anonymous writer is interested in such subjects as the weather, grain, America, black walnut tree imports, and hops. It’s not clear why we have this book so if anyone can help explain its provenance, please get in touch.

Tel: 01747 852157