News and Events

West Sussex Record Office:
Programme of workshops for 2019

West Sussex Record Office has published its programme of workshops for 2019.

Details here

Useful links

Events at East Sussex Record Office (The Keep)
Events at West Sussex Record Office
Friends of the Keep Archives
West Sussex Archives Society (Friends of West Sussex Record Office)

Christmas with the Kiplings
at The Keep, Thursday 6 December

Repeated for a second day because of public demand.

A celebration of all things Kipling, with a glass of mulled wine/cup of tea and a mince pie. Meet the Kiplings in a hands-on session with their family archives, through photographs, drawings, manuscripts, and a wealth of illustrated letters from three generations… and more.

Details here: 

[posted 28 November 2018]

WSRO Talk: 
West Sussex Women: a Century of Suffrage

100 years since the Qualification of Women Act gave some women the right to vote, the West Sussex Record Office will be exploring a century of suffrage in the Tuesday talk on 27 Nov.

Formal book launch for Volume 98

Joan Barham and Andrew Foster formally launched the Society’s latest volume, Church Surveys of Chichester Archdeaconry 1602, 1610 & 1636 on Saturday 27 October in the imposing surroundings of the Sherborne Room in the Bishop’s Palace Chichester.


During the event, members and guests were also treated to a preview of the Society’s forthcoming edition of the Great War journals of Arundel artist Ralph Ellis by Sue Hepburn. This promises to be an important and impressive volume: further details will appear in due course.

[posted 30 October 2018]

Limited service at WSRO on Saturday 10 November 2018

West Sussex Record Office have published the following notice:

Due to essential maintenance on IT systems at County Hall on Saturday 10 November 2018 the Record Office will only be able to offer a very limited service. The Record Office will remain open but staff will be working with only power and light – no data. We will be able to produce documents in the usual way but will not have access to our electronic catalogue to be able to search for or check document references. There will not be access to Ancestry or Find My Past and our ability to answer customer enquiries will be very limited as staff and customers will not have access to the internet or public Wi-Fi. Access to our microfilms will be unaffected. We apologise for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

[posted 25 October 2018]

Visit to Battle Abbey 22 October

The Friends of The Keep Archives are organising a visit to Battle, 22 October 2018, 10:30 to 3:30

This will be a truly unique opportunity to visit Battle Abbey. This originally Benedictine Abbey was built in the 11th Century reputedly on the site of the Battle of Hastings. After the Dissolution Henry VIII gave it to Sir Anthony Browne whose family then passed it to the notorious Webster family. They held sway for some 200 hundred years up to 1976 when, after years of profligacy and mis-management, they were obliged to sell and it was acquired for the nation.
The visit will include an illustrated talk on the Abbey buildings and the origins of the town of Battle. After lunch, a guided tour of the Abbey buildings will be offered, followed by an illustrated talk on the Abbey archive and its custodial history. More details here.

[posted 15 October 2018]

West Sussex Archives Society annual sale of second-hand books.

The West Sussex Archives Society’s annual sale of second-hand history books will be held over the weekend of October 12-13 in the Vicars’ Hall, Chichester Cathedral.

More details here.

[posted 30 September 2018]

Artists wanted for Vawdrey archive project

Applications are now open for artists to be involved with a unique research project.
Outside In is soon set to begin work with the West Sussex Record Office on the cataloguing, preserving, and digitisation of the The Vawdrey Archive. This archive comprises approximately 194 paintings produced by patients in art therapy sessions run by Dr Brian Vawdrey between 1951 and 1971 – some at the former West Sussex County Asylum, Graylingwell, Chichester – along with a copy of Vawdrey’s illustrated thesis, ‘Art in Analysis’. Application forms for artists who wish to be involved are now available.

Further background here, including details of events where additional information may be found.

[posted 17 September 2018]

Open Day at The Keep 15 September

The Keep (home of the East Sussex Record Office) will be holding its annual Open Day on 15 September. On the programme will be behind-the-scenes tours of the public Reference and Reading Rooms, archive repositories, the digitisation suite and the Conservation studio; and talks and practical advice for local and family historians. There will be a chance to find out more about the Sussex Family History Group, Mass Observation, and the Historic Environment team, as well as the opportunity to view exhibitions of original archive material from the University of Sussex Special Collections, the East Sussex Record Office, and Royal Pavilion and Museums local history collections.

Details here.

[posted 22 August 2018]

New SRS publication

The Society’s latest volume has just been published. Vol 98: Church Surveys of Chichester Archdeaconry 1602, 1610 & 1636, edited by Joan Barham and Andrew Foster, is now being sent to members and is available to order by non-members. Further details here.

[posted 9 August 2018]

Research confirms the authenticity of the “Sussex Declaration”

West Sussex Record Office holds a parchment manuscript of the United States Declaration of Independence. Apart from the signed copy at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., this is the only other ceremonial parchment manuscript copy in existence.

Detailed scientific testing of the manuscript has now confirmed the hypothesis of researchers from Harvard University that the document was produced in the 1780s. Multi-spectral imaging revealed a date beneath an erasure on the document reading either “July 4, 178” or “July 4, 179”. It is impossible to say whether there was originally a fourth digit in the year. Analysis of the ink shows that this lettering together with the final lettering and corrections were all written in a relatively short window of time.

The parchment was believed to have been held originally by the Third Duke of Richmond, known as the “Radical Duke” for his support of the Americans during the Revolution. The team is continuing to work on the question of when and how the parchment came to be in the UK.

Full story here.

[posted 28 July 2018]

Queen Victoria Hospital Archive Project exhibition

Since 2016 West Sussex Record Office has been working in partnership with Queen Victoria Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to catalogue and preserve the Hospital Archive and digitise selected patient case files. The archive dates from the 1930s to the 1990s and includes records relating to the Guinea Pig Club, badly burned Second World War airmen who underwent groundbreaking plastic surgery under the supervision of pioneering surgeon, Sir Archibald McIndoe.

A touring exhibition has been launched to share the work of this project, which will be visiting West Sussex Record Office from 3 July to 3 August 2018.

[posted 30 June 2018]

Forthcoming SRS volume

The Society’s latest publication is in press. Vol 98. Church Surveys of Chichester Archdeaconry 1602, 1610 & 1636, edited by Joan Barham and Andrew Foster, provides transcriptions of church surveys conducted within the Archdeaconry of Chichester in the early seventeenth century. These surveys provide valuable evidence of the struggle by clergy, churchwardens and lay patrons to maintain the basic fabric of their churches and chapels, while also ensuring that the buildings were fit places for worship according to the standards being set for the times. The surveys are significant because few dioceses hold such comprehensive accounts for these three dates, and indeed the survival for 1602 is very rare.

The volume is richly illustrated throughout with images of watercolours painted at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, photographs produced for Archdeacon Walker in 1879, and photographs created by Joan Barham in the early twenty-first century. Distribution to members is scheduled for August, when the volume will also be available to purchase on this site.

[posted 3 June 2018]

AGM 2018

The 2018 Annual General Meeting of the Society will be held on Saturday 2 June at The Keep, Falmer. All members will be welcome.
Further information, the agenda and papers can be downloaded here.

[posted 12 May 2018]