• The Centre for Heritage
    and Family History
  • About our
    Branches
  • Abingdon
    Branch
  • Bracknell
    Branch
  • Newbury
    Branch
  • Reading
    Branch
  • Windsor
    Branch
  • Woodley
    Branch

19 Sep 2021: The Centre is reopening from 07 Sep!  Click the image above to plan a visit

The Centre

A great space for society members and the public to use and to enjoy. It’s a lively meeting place and friendly focal point for everyone interested in heritage and history — including family, local and social history

Research

The Centre provides the area’s best family history research facility. Today’s researchers need to know how best to search for, organise and present information using digital sources and vital offline resources. It’s FREE to visit and informed advice and support are always at hand from society volunteers

Education

The Centre hosts a lively activities and events programme, aimed at widening researchers’ knowledge and deepening their understanding. Talks, walks, courses and workshops deliver updated perspectives and help place research findings into better historical context

Research Tools

FREE use of key online research tools improves prospects of finding that elusive ancestor. Each service offers different record sets, geographical coverage, search capabilities and levels of detail. That is why The Centre offers access to Findmypast, The Genealogist, the British Newspaper Archive and Ancestry’s national and international records

Print

For a small charge, The Centre offers A3 and A4 print services for research findings.

Events Programme

September 2021
October 2021
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Berkshire Family History Society
The Centre for Heritage and Family History
2nd Floor, Reading Central Library
Abbey Square
Reading
Berkshire
RG1 3BQ

Find us easily with what3words:

///sang.values.reach

0118 950 9553

Normally open:

  • Monday: 11.00 – 16.00
  • Tuesday: 10.30 – 16.00 & 18.45 – 21.00
  • Saturday: 10.30 – 14.30
  • Last Thursday each month: 10.30 – 16.00

There are SIX branches across historic Berkshire ...

… providing friendly help and advice, key resources and information for your family history research — wherever in the world your ancestors came from

Meetings

Meetings usually take place monthly (except July and August)

Come to a meeting, join in and chat with other family historians. You will meet researchers of all ages – and at all stages — from newcomers to family history to the more experienced. Everyone is welcome — you do not have to be a society member to attend.

Each meeting features a topic likely to be of relevance and interest to all researchers. Speakers are experts in their respective fields.

Computer related matters feature prominently at the Woodley Branch meetings — but other branches also hold a few similar meetings each year. That is because today's researchers need to know how best to search for, organise and present information using online means and available programs, as well as the many vital offline resources. The basic principles of effective family history research have not changed, but intelligent use of a PC or mobile device, and the internet have made a dramatic difference to research techniques.

Audience

This society and its Branches are not just about Berkshire.

The people you'll meet have research interests that range across the UK, even worldwide. Draw on their experience and advice, you'll be surprised at how much you can learn.

Drop-in advice sessions

Society volunteers run regular drop-in advice sessions at many of Berkshire’s libraries, including those at Abingdon, Bracknell, Cippenham, Mortimer, Newbury, Thatcham, Wantage and Wokingham

Details are given in the Events Programme

Collect your names. dates and questions, bring them with you, and get some friendly help and advice with your research and in breaking down those brickwalls - wherever your ancestors came from.

The society also hosts occasional open evenings at Berkshire Record Office in Reading, where you will find almost all of the surviving original records of the 'old' Royal County of Berkshire, including those for the parishes of the Vale of the White Horse, and Abingdon/North Berkshire.

Literature

  • Society branches often have a monthly newsletter.
  • Society members can borrow from a range of family and local history books from branches with their own libraries.
  • Some branches offer society publications for sale.

Events and Open Days

Meet society volunteers at outreach events held throughout the year in Berkshire and central southern England. See calendar for details.

The society usually supports regional shows like The Family History Show and family history fairs, open days and workshops staged by local organisations and nearby county family history societies.

An extensive Berkshire Search facility (including the publications mentioned above) is usually available on a PC at most outreach events too.

At these events, you can usually buy CDs and other items from the growing range of society publications, including:

  • indexes and transcriptions of original Berkshire Parish Registers
  • an index to Berkshire's probate records
  • full details, with photographs, of monumental inscriptions.
  • historic maps
  • directories
  • electoral rolls
  • calendarised Berkshire overseers’ papers
  • Berkshire coroners’ reports
  • Berkshire and the First World War
  • Berkshire War Memorials.

If you have ancestors in the historic 'old' county of Berkshire, transcriptions in the three Berkshire Baptisms, Berkshire Marriages, and Berkshire Burials CDs (containing some 2 million names in total) are essential finding aids. These CDs include parish records in North Berkshire and the Vale of the White Horse too.

Meetings

When

No event found!

Time

Doors open at 7.15pm

Parking

FREE parking adjacent to the Centre

Welcome

Non-members are welcome at Branch meetings and events. A voluntary donation of £3 is appreciated, if affordable.

Agenda

  • Most meetings feature a talk by a speaker who is a recognised authority on their subject
  • Q&A.
  • News items
  • Refreshments
  • General discussion

History

From Saxon times until 1974, the Royal County of Berkshire extended to the western edge of the city of Oxford, separated only by the River Thames. That river marked Berkshire's northern border and it is entirely fitting that Abingdon — Berkshire's principal settlement for so many years — continues to host the most northerly of Berkshire Family History Society's six local branches.

Other Activities

  • Advice Sessions
  • Local Projects

Abingdon Branch members provide advice occasionally at local events in and around Abingdon and Wantage. You can bring your family history questions to these sessions and get some fresh ideas and answers on how you can move your research forward.

From time to time, similar events are held at other locations in the area.

Check the events calendar to find out where and when you can next seek advice on your family history research questions

Projects are a vital part of the work of the society. They are  important in helping to preserve historic records and making information from those records accessible to a wider public. Without such project work, there would be few if any accurate indexes or transcripts accessible to for you as a family historian.

Examples of Abingdon Branch projects include the recording of memorial inscriptions in the churchyard of St Peter's Church, Drayton, near Abingdon, with the transcriptions published on a CD, available from the society.

Meeting Location:

Long Furlong Community Centre

Boulter Drive

Abingdon

OX14 1XP

 

GPS 51.687976, -1.278497

what3words: ///guilty.life.comic

Contact

Any questions about Branch activities?

Contact

Vanessa Chappell

Branch chairman

Meetings

What

No event found!

Time

Doors open at 7.15pm

Parking

FREE car parking next to the centre

Welcome

Non-members are welcome at Branch meetings and events. A voluntary donation of £3 is appreciated, if affordable.

Agenda

  • Most meetings feature a talk by a speaker who is a recognised authority on their subject
  • Q&A.
  • News items
  • Short contributions from local members

Other Activities

  • Advice & Outreach Events
  • Community Talks
  • Local Projects

Branch members provide advice on the second Tuesday of every month at Bracknell Central Library in Town Square and also on the last Tuesday of each month at Wokingham Library in Denmark Street (check the calendar for these event dates). Bring your questions and get help, fresh ideas, suggestions and answers on how you can move your research forward.

Some members give talks to community groups, in return for a donation to help the work of the society.

To request a speaker, please use the Contact Box

Projects are a vital part of the work of the society, helping to preserve historic records and making information more accessible to a wider public. Without project work, there would be few if any accurate indexes or transcripts accessible to you.

Branch projects include recording memorial inscriptions in the churchyards of Ascot All Saints and Priory Road Burial Ground*, Crowthorne St John*, Wokingham All Saints*, Wokingham St Paul, Wokingham St Sebastian* and in Wokingham Free Church Burial Ground*.

 Find out more

available on CD from the Shop

Branch Meeting Summaries

Catch up with what you missed or remind yourself what was said, with summaries of the Bracknell & Wokingham Branch meetings

Meeting Location:

The New Priestwood Community Centre

Priestwood Court Road

Bracknell

RG42 1TU

 

GPS 51.421300, -0.764280

what3words: ///care.truck.expand

Contact

Any questions about Branch activities?

Contact

Sandra Barkwith

Branch chairperson

Meetings

What

No event found!

Time

Doors open at 7:10pm

Parking

FREE car parking next to the hall

Welcome

Non-members are welcome at Branch meetings and events. A voluntary donation of £3 is appreciated, if affordable.

Agenda

  • Most meetings feature a talk by a speaker who is a recognised authority on their subject
  • Q&A.
  • News items
  • Branch lending library

Other Activities

  • Advice & Outreach Events
  • Trips

Branch members provide regular help and advice sessions in locations across West Berkshire, including Newbury Library. See calendar for details.

The branch organises occasional trips to destinations such as The National Archives and county record offices.

Branch Meeting Summaries

Catch up with what you missed or remind yourself what was said, with summaries of the Newbury branch meetings

Meeting Location:

St Mary’s Church Hall

Church Road

Shaw

Berkshire

RG14 2DR

(church is 100 metres beyond)

 

GPS 51.411722, -1.318450

what3words: ///losses.locker.rails

Contact

Any questions about Branch activities?

Contact

Peter Corneck

Branch chairman

Meetings

What

No event found!

Time

Doors open at 7.15pm

Parking

Ample FREE car parking on site

Welcome

Non-members are welcome at Branch meetings and events. A voluntary donation of £3 is appreciated, if affordable.

Agenda

  • Variety of talks aimed at
    • all interests and abilities
    • newcomers to experienced researchers
  • given by experts in their field.
  • July - visit to a place of local historical interest or to a museum or archive collection.
  • December meeting is usually 'home grown' - members share their own research, often on a linked theme.
  • Meetings start with notices and general interest items before our speaker gives their talk.
  • Afterwards there is time for questions and general discussion.

Other Activities

  • Advice & Help
  • Community Talks
  • Local Projects

Reading Branch members provide help and advice at The Centre for Heritage and Family History — the Berkshire Family History Society's base in central Reading.

Members give talks to local Reading groups and organisations, or provide help at advice sessions and events in local libraries to encourage and help newcomers and experienced family historians alike in their family and local history research.

To request a speaker, please use the Contact Box

Projects are a vital part of the work of the society, helping to preserve historic records and making information more accessible to a wider public. Without project work, there would be few if any accurate indexes or transcripts accessible to you.

Branch Members help transcribe original documents in Berkshire Record Office, for eventual publication by the society

Meeting Summaries

Canal People – Joint meeting with Bracknell & Wokingham

Joint meeting 20th November 2020   Speaker: Martin Buckland   A canal is defined as an artificial waterway which may […]

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20 November 2020
29 October 2020

Photographs and memorabilia

Reading Branch meeting 29th October 2020, conducted on Zoom Speaker: Members – Peter Caton, Richard Brown, Richard Croker and Graham […]

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Some Wallingford Crooks

Reading Branch meeting 24th September 2020, conducted via Zoom Speaker: Margaret Crook Margaret explained that her research into her husband’s […]

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24 September 2020
25 June 2020

The Colin Spickett Experiment

Reading Branch meeting 25th June 2020, conducted on Zoom Speaker: Mark Bowman This presentation was a display of how much […]

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Jane Austen and the Thames Valley Connection

Reading Branch meeting 28th May 2020, conducted on Zoom Speaker: Joy Pibworth Joy outlined the family background of Jane’s life […]

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28 May 2020
27 February 2020

A Caribbean Journey: experiences of researching Barbadian ancestors from the UK

Reading Branch meeting 27th February 2020  Speaker: Guy Grannum  Guy gave an interesting talk on how he came to research […]

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Victorian Divorce

Reading Branch meeting 30th January 2020 Speaker: Simon Burbidge Simon spoke of his research into his ancestors who had been […]

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30 January 2020
12 December 2019

Short talks and quiz

Reading Branch meeting 12th December 2019 Speaker: Members There were two short talks by members, a Berkshire dialect quiz from […]

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Birth and Death Certificates

Reading Branch meeting 28th November 2019 Speaker: Antony Marr Speaking from a background of an ex Deputy Registrar he gave […]

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28 November 2019
31 October 2019

Policing Reading in WW1

Reading Branch meeting 31st October 2019 Speaker: Tony Keep from Thames Valley Police Museum  Tony started his research to commemorate […]

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Putting Berkshire on the Map (Gough to Google)

Reading Branch meeting 26th Sept 2019 Speaker: John Leighfield John opened his talk with an anecdote about Einstein and his chauffeur […]

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26 September 2019
27 June 2019

Photos and Memorabilia

Reading Branch meeting 27th June 2019 Speaker: Members  Four members talked about their ancestors and artefacts. Peter Caton continued a […]

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The 1939 Register

Reading Branch meeting 30th May 2019 Speaker: Mark Bowman Mark explored the origins of the register and its uses in […]

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30 May 2019
25 April 2019

Tracing your Welsh Ancestors

Reading Branch meeting 25th April 2019  Speaker: Gill Thomas Gill started by outlining the differences one might find when tracing […]

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Old Photographs: their identification and dating

Reading Branch meeting 28th March 2019 Speaker: Tom Doig  Tom started by suggesting it is more accurate when dating old […]

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28 March 2019
28 February 2019

The History of Reading Cinemas

Reading Branch meeting 28th February 2019 Speaker: David Cliffe  David opened by recounting that he had first given his talk, […]

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Telling Tales

Reading Branch meeting 31st January 2019  Speaker: Mike Swaddling  Mike, a retired marketing communications manager living in Sandhurst, after full […]

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31 January 2019

Meeting Location:

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

280 The Meadway

Tilehurst

Reading

RG30 4PE

 

GPS 51.453332, -1.029597

what3words: ///soon.winter.simple

Contact

Any questions about Branch activities?

Contact

Graham Vockins

Branch chairman

Meetings

What

No event found!

Time

Doors open at 7:15pm

Parking

There is only limited parking at the Church itself but there is a multi-storey car park on the corner of Victoria Street and Alexandra Road, immediately opposite William Street.

Welcome

Non-members are welcome at Branch meetings and events. A voluntary donation of £3 is appreciated, if affordable.

Agenda

  • A talk on topics of interest to all researchers whatever experience level, delivered by speakers who are acknowledged experts.
  • Q&A
  • Refreshments
  • Raffle
  • Monthly newsletter with details of current and future meetings and other family history events
There's an excellent lending library for society members who may borrow books, magazines etc or consult reference books. There are also some data CDs relevant to Berkshire research.

Other Activities

  • Advice & Outreach Events

The Branch operates a number of regular outreach events each month, including drop-in sessions at Cippenham Library. See the calendar for more details.

Meeting Location:

Christ Church United Reformed Church

William Street

Windsor

SL4 1BA

 

GPS 51.480284, -0.610211

what3words: ///wisely.splice.plus

Contact

Any questions about Branch activities?

Contact

Leigh Dworkin

Branch chairman

Meetings

What

No event found!

Time

Doors open at 7.15pm

Parking

FREE car parking (after 6pm) opposite the centre

Welcome

Non-members are welcome at Branch meetings and events. A voluntary donation of £3 is appreciated, if affordable.

Agenda

  • Most meetings feature a talk by a speaker who is a recognised authority on their subject
  • Q&A.
  • News items
  • Short contributions from local members

Other Activities

  • Community Talks
  • Local Projects

Some members give talks to community groups, in return for a donation to help the work of the society.

To request a speaker, please use the Contact Box

Projects are a vital part of the work of the society, helping to preserve historic records and making information more accessible to a wider public. Without project work, there would be few if any accurate indexes or transcripts accessible to you.

The Computer branch is working on producing a CD containing transcripts and images of the memorial inscriptions in the churchyard of Woodley St John.

Meeting Location:

The Oakwood Centre

Headley Road

Woodley

RG5 4JZ

 

GPS 51.454155, -0.904425

what3words: ///drove.float.hurry

Contact

Any questions about Branch activities?

Contact

Gillian Stevens

Branch chairperson