The Somerset Heritage Centre houses Somerset's archives, local studies library, Historic Environment Record, and archaeological and museum reserve collections, as well as the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society library and office.
It is the home of the Archives and Local Studies Service, the Heritage Learning team, the Historic Environment Service, the Museums Service and the Victoria County History of Somerset.
Who can use it?
The Somerset Heritage Centre is open to everyone with an interest in Somerset's past.
How do I use it?
The Somerset Heritage Centre consists of two buildings on the same site. Building 1 is at the front of the site, and contains the searchroom and the archive and library strongrooms. Building 2 contains the museum and Records Management stores and the technical areas (for example, archive and museum conservation and the design department).
If you have not visited us before, please bring some form of ID containing your name and current address (such as a driving licence or a utility bill). Please be aware that we do not accept passports, tickets from The National Archives or CARN tickets issued by other Record Offices.
The main searchroom is in Building 1. It has an area for microfiche/microfilm viewing, tables for consulting archive documents, open-access library books and five People's Network PCs. The People's Network PCs have subscriptions to online resources, including Ancestry, and also give access to the Historic Environment Record. There is wireless Internet access and plug sockets are available for laptops. There is a separate research room for consulting museum objects.
You can use the local studies library or the People's Network PCs on a drop-in basis, although you can also book a table or computer if you would like a guaranteed space. If you would like to look at documents, Historic Environment Record files or museum objects, please make an appointment before you visit, by phoning 01823 337600 (+44 1823 337600 if outside the UK) or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about visiting the Heritage Centre, please see the Researching at the Heritage Centre section on the Somerset Heritage Centre website. Please be aware that we may need 24 hours' notice to produce photographs from the archives and local studies collections. This is because they are stored in a cold store and need to slowly come up to room temperature to avoid being damaged.
If you are carrying out an in-depth study and would like to discuss your research before you visit please contact us.
The archives catalogue and the local studies catalogue are both available online, as is the Historic Environment Record. The main Archives and Local Studies website contains much more information on what we hold, including online resources and detailed research guides.
There is a large, free, public car park at the front of the building, with 30 parking spaces. There are three disabled parking spaces for Building 1 and three for Building 2.
There is a small refreshment area with tables and chairs. Tea, coffee and water are available, and there is also a vending machine selling snacks. A sandwich van visits the premises every weekday.
Both buildings have disabled toilets. There is a height-adjustable desk in the searchroom and hearing loops in the main reception, searchroom and learning room (plus a portable loop system).
What is covered?
The Archives and Local Studies' holdings cover the whole of the historic county of Somerset, including North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset. The Historic Environment Service's records cover only the modern county of Somerset.
How much does it cost?
Visiting the Heritage Centre is free of charge. We make a small charge for photocopies, microfiche/film printouts, and for using a digital camera. For further information about costs go to the research section on the Somerset Heritage Centre website
Where is it?
The Somerset Heritage Centre is to the west of Taunton, at Langford Mead, the industrial estate off Silk Mills Road.
The Heritage Centre is closed on Christmas Day, New Year's Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday and bank holidays.
Saturday opening dates 2014. http://www1.somerset.gov.uk/archives/Saturdays2014.htm
For enquiries to all departments, our working hours are Monday to Friday: 9am to 5pm.