Events and Activities

Author's Talks

Talks and lectures




All events are held at WSHC unless otherwise stated. Tickets for events at the History Centre may be purchased in advance at the Help Desk or can be reserved on 01249 705500 (Tues-Sat 9:30-5) Numbers may be limited so please buy your ticket in advance. Please aim to arrive 15 minutes before your event begins.

Download our Events Programme

Events and Activities

Memory Box Reading Group

First and third Monday afternoon of every month, 2-3.30pm 

Do you enjoy history and listening to stories? Our group is meeting on the first and third Monday afternoon of every month to listen to an extract from one of the amazing collection of books in our Local Studies Library. We will take time to share memories and thoughts, and also have a chat over refreshments! If you would enjoy some friendly company in a relaxed environment, this is for you. All welcome!

Free entry, parking right outside and refreshments, supported by Hob Nob Press.

Read - Reminisce - Enjoy

Conservation Surgery

2nd Thursday of every month, 2-4pm (15 minute session) Mar 12th, Apr 9th

Come and get advice about caring for your precious family photographs, keepsakes and treasures.

Free, but please specify if you would like to see an archives or an objects conservator.

Meet the Local Studies Librarian

Tuesday 12th May 13.30-14.45 NB held at *Devizes Library*

Join County Local Studies Librarian Julie Davis for an introductory hands-on explore of the Local Studies collection at Devizes Library. Ask questions, find out about Julie’s personal favourites and locate useful items for local, family and house history. Discover the library’s history gems and become more confident about navigating and accessing this wonderful collection.


Cheese Making in Wiltshire – With Tasting Session!

Thursday 14th May 19.30-20.45

Wiltshire is known as the county of Chalk and Cheese, and is well-known for its cheese and dairy industries. We are celebrating Local History Month this year with local cheese maker Ceri Cryer who has revived the traditional Wiltshire Loaf, a semi-hard cheese popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, which she makes at the Brinkworth Dairy using her great grandfather’s recipe. Ceri will be talking about this cheese and more, and there will be samples to try!

£6, booking essential.

Wiltshire Family History Society Drop In

Friday 5th June 10.00-16.00

The Wiltshire Family History Society was founded in 1981 and aims to encourage the study of family history, including both Wiltshire ancestry of people world-wide and the world-wide ancestry of Wiltshire residents. Members not only research their ancestors by name but, by using all available information, seek to build up a complete picture of the people in the setting in which they lived. The Society has an incredibly friendly mixture of complete beginners and experienced family historians, so there is every opportunity for beginners to receive encouragement in their research.

Drop in to this free session to find out more and pick up some hints and tips from the experts!

Author's Talks 

Talks and Lectures 

Kicking Off Spring: The Conservation of Pele's Football Boots

Wednesday 25th March 10.30-11.30

Are you a fan of football? Have you heard of Pele? Have you ever wondered what happens in a conservation lab? At the Swindon and Wiltshire History Centre it's not just books and paper we have to care for. Hidden in its offices is an object conservation lab that also tackles modern materials, such as a pair of Pele's Football Boots. Conservator Kayleigh Spring will talk about the rare opportunity she had to work on a pair of football boots worn by one of the world's best footballers. Assessing condition upon entering our conservation studio, ethical considerations when carrying out repairs and packaging of the boots to help preserve them for the future. Why not kick off your spring with us.

£4, booking advisable.

A Garden in the Archive

Tuesday 31st March 10.30-12.00

Spring is the season to get back out into the garden! You’ve probably visited other people’s gardens as a pleasant outing or to gain inspiration for your own, but have you ever visited the archive? Join Archivist Naomi Sackett as she takes you on a garden tour through the archive stopping at Stourhead, Iford Manor, Wilton House, Tottenham House as well as more down to earth venues. Come and immerse yourself in the garden, just without the mud!

£4, booking advisable.

Victory is Here! VE Day in Wiltshire

Wednesday 6th May 13.30-15.00

VE Day and the aftermath of the Second World War marked the beginning of a huge period of change across the country, from ‘slum’ clearances and ambitious building programmes to the beginnings of the permissive society and sweeping social change. This talk will introduce you to how these issues affected Wiltshire and its residents.

£4, booking advisable.

Catsbrain, Breakheart and Labour-in-vain: The Hidden History of Wiltshire Place Names

Wednesday 6th May 11.00-12.30 NB held at *Bradford on Avon Library*

Have you ever looked at the names on signposts or on a map and wondered what they meant? Place names have been called ‘signposts to the past’ and they can reveal a surprising amount of information. This talk will help you interpret the names you see around you and shares the hidden meanings of some of Wiltshire’s most curious place names!

£4, booking advisable.

Plagues and Pestilence: Edward Jenner and the Smallpox Virus

Wednesday 20th May 10.30-12.00

“The smallpox has gone out of late, perhaps it may be followed by the great”, so wrote Byron in the early 19th century. The great pox, syphilis, has sadly not followed the disappearance of smallpox, but smallpox has been virtually eliminated. This lecture with Dr Tim Mason (University of Portsmouth) follows the history of the disease from earliest records in the times of the Pharaoh Ramses V to its eradication in the twentieth century. The story takes in the life and times of Edward Jenner, our Gloucestershire neighbour and the star of the story, who developed the first vaccine and who envisaged the demise of the disease more than 150 years before it actually occurred. But it hasn’t gone completely.

£4, booking essential.

Where to go on Holiday: Seaside Resorts from the Middle Ages to the Present Day

Friday 29th May 10.30-12.00

Allan Brodie, a historian working for Historic England, looks at a range of ideas for holidays for a Wiltshire resident from the Middle Ages to the present day. Options include going on a pilgrimage, visiting a spa and spending time on the beach, and there has always been an opportunity to visit a big city or ramble through the countryside. So, if you’re tired of Chippenham, Allan has plenty of ideas for day trips or a colourful seaside holiday!

£4, booking essential.

From Wolf Hall to a Tobacco Factory: The Further Fieldwork of the Wiltshire Buildings Record

Wednesday 17th June 10.30-12.00

Another chance to see this sell-out talk from Dorothy Treasure, now updated with more recent discoveries. Discover some of the fascinating secrets to be found in Wiltshire’s buildings, from the quirky to the amazing! A must for budding house historians.

£4, booking advisable.


An Introduction to

Saturday: 28th March, 18th April, 9th May, 30th May, 20th June. All 9.30-10.30

Are you unsure how to use the website but would like to get to grips with your family history? Ancestry contains many useful sources for family history. Find out how to get started in this workshop with Ian Hicks.

£5, limited places – booking essential.

Conservation for Metal Detectorists 

This event has been cancelled but may run in July as part of the Festival of Archaeology. 

Join Wiltshire's professional Conservators Beth Baker and Kayleigh Spring for a day packed with talks and practical advice and activities. Aimed at current and budding metal detectorists, you will be given advice and information from archaeologists and conservators about dealing with finds. The day includes contributions from the Wiltshire and Swindon Centre's own Archaeological Service who will outline the details of responsible detecting and the work of the Portable Antiquities scheme. With our combination of activities and useful information, we aim for you to walk away knowing how to proceed upon discovering finds that may need conservation and recording, who to contact for help, and services we may be able to offer you.

£95, limited places - booking essential. 

*Fully booked* Keep Your Photographs Looking Fabulous

Friday 24th April 10.30-12.00 

Are your family holiday snaps fading? Have pests nibbled the only image of your Victorian great-grandmother? Are you struggling to store those glass lantern slide photographs you inherited? Book in to our workshop and join archive conservator Sophie Coles to learn about the best way to look after your photographs followed by an opportunity to bring in your own photographs for expert conservation advice.

£4, limited places – booking essential.

Workhouses, Prisons and Asylums

Saturday 25th April 10.30-12.30 

Workhouses, prisons and asylums could be very grim places – they conjure up images of Oliver Twist, hard labour and ice baths. They could also be very un-Dickensian: some workhouses even gave tobacco to their inmates or paid for the men to be shaved by a barber. The records of these institutions can give you an invaluable insight into the lives of your ancestors, and this hands-on workshop with Margaret Moles will introduce you to some of the most important and often surprising elements of their histories.

£6, booking advisable.

History is Here: Barford St Martin

Wednesday 20th May 13.15-14.30 NB held at *Wilton Library*

Get the most from your library with this study session focusing on the village of Barford St Martin, looking at local history sources held online and in Wilton Library. Great for beginners.

£4, booking advisable.

A Beginner’s Guide to Family History

Thursday 4th June 19.30-21.30

Most people starting out in family history tend to begin online. This could mean asking questions of relatives on social media, or by signing up to one of the family history sites like There’s a huge amount of material available online, from census records to wills to parish registers, but what does it all mean, and where on earth do you start? Where do you go when you’ve exhausted the internet? This talk with Terry Bracher and Julie Davis will take you through the first steps of any family history, as well as giving you some hints and tips on what to look out for when you get further up the family tree.

£6, booking essential.


Reception Foyer:

Maps & Journeys

10th February – 11th April 2020

An exhibition by L3 Art and Design students from Wiltshire College

Inspired by work collected as part of Creative Wiltshire, a National Heritage Lottery funded project

Supported by Wiltshire Council and Swindon Borough Council


Tickets for events at the History Centre may be purchased in advance at the Help Desk or can be reserved on 01249 705500 (Tues-Sat 9:30-5) Payment by credit card or cheque is only possible for 2 more tickets. Numbers may be limited so please buy your ticket in advance. Please aim to arrive 15 minutes before your event begins.

Download a PDF version of our events programme

Disclaimer: We may take photographs at events for future publicity purposes. Please make a member of staff aware if you would prefer not to be included in any images. Permission will sought for images which include children.


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