Old News

1000 Years of Criminal Justice in Sussex

Wednesday 4 March, 5.30-6.30pm, £5

In this illustrated talk, archivist Christopher Whittick will explain, with particular reference to Sussex, how criminal justice has changed and developed over the last thousand years. The talk will deal with both crime and punishment, and describe the remarkable consistency of approach over a long period of time. He will also examine some fundamental changes in the system, not least how the balance of responsibility for prosecuting crime has shifted from the individual to the state.

More details here.

[posted 11 February 2020]

Dr Elizabeth (‘Betty’) Killick

We are sorry to note the recent death of Betty Killick, who lived in Stoughton, West Sussex, and was a member of the Sussex Record Society for 25 years. She was a remarkable woman, whom The Times describes as a “Terrifying naval engineer who liked a pint and developed radar and torpedoes”. Her extensive obituary is here (unfortunately now pay-walled; the original text is here, reproduced with acknowledgement).

[updated 15 August 2019]

Advance notice: Some Transatlantic Ties: William Penn’s West Sussex Connections
Tuesday 24 September

As a precursor to the West Sussex Record Office’s new project Transatlantic Ties, Martin Hayes, County Local Studies Librarian, will describe Penn’s significant links with West Sussex, his life-changing impact on many local people and his many achievements, but also setbacks. More details here.

[posted 28 June 2019]

Chichester Archdeaconry Depositions: a Swedish excursion

SRS Volume 97, Chichester Archdeaconry Depositions 1603-1608, edited by Peter Wilkinson, gives an intriguing insight into the life, loves and behaviour of everyday people in the early 17th century. It includes vivid eye-witness accounts of incidents and events in rural Sussex and paints a unique picture of everyday life at that time.

On 22 May, Peter (R above) and his colleague Kim Fleming led a three hour research seminar for the academic staff of the English department at the Mid Sweden University’s campus at Sundsvall, where the context and operation of Chichester’s Consistory Court, and analyses of the 1599-1603 volume of depositions, were discussed.

The Society will be publishing Kim Fleming’s Witness Depositions of the Chichester Archdeaconry 1599-1603 on this website later this year.

More information here

[posted 23 July 2019]

Friends of the Keep Archives visit to Sheffield Park: provisional date 11th July

FOTKA are planning a whole day visit to Sheffield Park. This will include a visit to the house itself by private arrangement, the model farm also not for public viewing, and the cricket ground. Christopher Whittick and Sue Berry will be the lecturers. Keep an eye open here for details.

Sussex Inn Signs and Their History Wednesday 17 July Illustrated talk at The Keep

Inn signs were, and still are, much more than external advertising for food, drink and accommodation. The signs and their brackets reveal patronage, land ownership and social status, as well as local personalities and national events, opening a window to the past. Sussex inn signs are a colourful addition to our urban and rural surroundings, and they are still full of meaning today.

‘Sussex Declaration’ goes to London.

For the State Visit to the UK of President Donald Trump, the WSRO copy of the American Declaration of Independence — the only contemporary parchment manuscript copy outside the USA National Archives — was on display in 10 Downing Street. County Archivist Wendy Walker gave a brief presentation to President Trump and Prime Minister Mrs May.

(L-R Theresa May, Donald Trump, Melania Trump, Philip May, Wendy Walker)

More details here.

[Posted 5 June 2019]

Calling Blighty: University of Brighton Sunday 16 June 2019

The Calling Blighty series of 12 minute films, made in 1944-46, shows servicemen (and a very few women) in the Far East recording a message to be seen by their families and friends in local cinemas back home. The North West Film Archive (NWFA) is delighted to announce a new collaboration with Screen Archive South East (SASE) and Imperial War Museums (IWM), bringing five Calling Blighty films back to Brighton! 23 men and one woman send their very personal messages home to family and friends – they are partly stilted, occasionally emotional, but mostly stiff upper lip testimonies, sometimes funny, and always very moving.

For more details, and how to book a free ticket, download the pdf here.

[posted 24 May 2019]

AGM 2019

The 2019 Annual General Meeting of the Society will be held on Saturday 8 June at Cliffe Hall, Cliffe High Street, Lewes. All members will be welcome.
Further information, the agenda and papers can be downloaded here.

[posted 20 May 2019]

Sussex Military Heritage Symposium at WSRO Monday 20 May 2019

West Sussex Archives Society in partnership with the Friends of The National Archives is organizing a one day symposium focusing on the collections and research from The National Archives, West Sussex Record Office and the Royal Sussex Regiment. This will enable people to find out more about national and local military archives, the military history of the county and the rich and varied heritage of the Royal Sussex Regiment. A series of Royal Sussex Regiment archives and museum objects will be on display during the day.

More details here

[posted 18 April 2019]

WSRO project celebrating transatlantic links awarded a $100,000 grant

West Sussex Record Office has been awarded a grant of $100,000 by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in New York for its new Transatlantic Ties project . The project will explore and promote the close historical connections between America and West Sussex through the wealth of archival material for the county.

Transatlantic Ties will celebrate and open up access to the wealth of historical resources relating to American history dating from 1701-1865. The project will include:

  • the development of an American collection of digital resources using original archives at the Record Office
  • a new Transatlantic Ties website providing access to all of these research resources on both sides of the Atlantic
  • the development of online teaching and learning resources for schools, colleges and universities
  • a public outreach programme, exhibition and other activities culminating in an international symposium.

Further coverage here, here and here

[posted 18 April 2019]

WSRO: National Archive Service Accreditation

West Sussex Record Office has been awarded National Archive Service Accreditation, putting it in the top 6% of archives in the country. National Archive Service Accreditation is the UK quality standard for archive services, awarded to a select number of Record Offices, which recognises good performance in all areas of archive service delivery. It helps archives to manage and improve their efficiency and effectiveness through external validation, and by identifying good practice.

More details here

[posted 23 March 2019]

Exploring Manorial Records
East Sussex Record Office at The Keep 20 March 2019

Manorial records form some of the oldest and most interesting of our holdings, and were given special legal protection in 1923. Whether you are interested in the history of a village or a house, want to find out more about your ancestors and where they lived, or push your family history back further than parish records will take it, manorial records might well provide the answer. In this workshop, County Archivist Christopher Whittick will describe and interpret the records; there will also be a display of original material from our archives.

More details here

[posted 4 March 2019]

WSRO Tuesday Talk: The High Sheriffs of Sussex

Caroline Nicholls, the current High Sheriff of West Sussex, and Dr John Godfrey will be giving a talk at the West Sussex Record Office on 26th February on The High Sheriffs of Sussex.

Dr Godfrey will be talking about the history of the office, using materials from the Record Office’s collections, and Caroline Nicholls will be speaking about her year in office and what it means to be a thoroughly modern High Sheriff in the 21st Century. The talks will be illustrated with images of documents and events.

More details here

[posted 15 February 2019]

Behind the Scenes at The Keep 14 February 2019

The next opportunity to visit The Keep Behind the Scenes will be Thursday 14 February. The tour will include the Reference and Reading Rooms, the conservation and digitisation studios, and the archive repositories.

Further details here

[posted 27 January 2019]

Britain on Film: Railways
Screening at The Keep Tuesday 16 January 1430

Take a trip back in time with a nostalgic screening of films from the BFI archive. Dating from 1898 to the 1970s, this cinematic journey captures the romance and freedom of train travel, as well as the social, political and economic changes of the 20th century. Film duration: 83 minutes

Details here

[posted 11 January 2019]

West Sussex Record Office:
Programme of workshops for 2019

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

Details here  and here

[updated 1 January 2019]

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]