Arranging your visit

  • Visits may be booked on any day from Monday to Friday, between 10am and 3pm.
  • All visits must be booked in advance, giving at least one week’s notice. Users are advised not to travel unless they have received confirmation of the visit from us. Use our visit booking form.
  • Directions to the Archive are provided on our main contact page and will also be sent to pre-booked visitors.
  • Visitors will be asked for a phone number that they can be contacted on in case the Archive is forced to cancel the visit at short notice.
  • Please tell us if you have to cancel your visit.
  • The Archive occupies an historic building dating from 1688 and access for people with mobility problems is limited. More information.
  • We welcome all bona fide researchers to our library and research centre. However, we must insist that people under 18 or vulnerable adults must be accompanied by a parent or responsible adult who must stay with them throughout their visit.

Pre-order catalogued material

  • Visitors making appointments will be asked to search our online Archive catalogue and request Archive items by email or post at least 48 hours in advance.
  • General restrictions on access to the Archive’s collections, such as any statutory or time-limited closure of the records, will be explained in the catalogue and by email or post at the time of booking a visit.
  • Material will be made available in accordance with preservation policies and procedures.
  • Archive material will be retrieved from the store 24 hours before your visit and put in the Accessions Room for acclimatisation.
  • If you wish to consult additional archive material during your visit, the Archivist will decide whether it is possible but you may have to book another visit.
  • Library books and journals are available on the day without pre-booking. However, it will save you time if you can tell us in advance which books you may need to consult. Check our Library catalogue.

Uncatalogued material

  • Normally, uncatalogued material may not be viewed. At the Archive’s discretion, users may consult uncatalogued material pertinent to their enquiries or projects, provided that specific items can be identified and produced for inspection in a protected format.

On arrival

  • Coats and bags must be put in the cupboard provided.
  • All visitors must sign the visitor’s book on every visit.
  • First time visitors will be asked to register, provide photo and address ID, and sign a Visitor Registration Agreement. Personal information will be recorded on the Archive's contacts database.
  • The visitor will be shown the extent of the material available and asked to decide upon the order in which they wish to look at it. Archive boxes, files and albums will be issued one or two at a time to prevent mixing of the contents.

Using Archive material

  • No food, including sweets and gum, or drink are to be consumed in Reading Room.
  • Please turn your mobile to silent and make calls outside the Reading Room.
  • All material is for Reference Only and must not be removed from the Reading Room
  • You may not be able to examine fragile or loose items if we are unable to protect them and we may ask you to use surrogates (e.g. digital images, transcriptions) rather than originals
  • Notes may only be made using the pencils and yellow paper provided, to easily distinguish between the visitor’s notes and original Archive material. Users must not write on or trace directly from any records, and must ensure that their hands are clean.
  • Specific handling requirements and equipment for particularly vulnerable original documents and rare books will be explained at the time by the duty supervisor.

Using the Archive's catalogues and databases, laptops, cameras and portable scanners

  • A computer terminal with access to the Archive's catalogues and databases will be available if not already in use. The duty supervisor can also search for material or information at their own terminal.
  • Laptops may be used for note-taking if they are battery operated or they are plugged into the sockets provided and do not trail wires. WiFi is available.
  • Visitors to the Archive are permitted to photograph items. We charge non-Friends £10.00 for a licence to take up to 20 photographs; Friends may take unlimited photographs free of charge. Flash photography is not permitted. We may ask to be given copies of the resulting images.
  • Portable scanners are not permitted.
  • Archive material can only be reproduced in any form or publication with permission.

Identification and request of additional material on the day

  • Archive material should be acclimatised for 24 hours. Visitors are encouraged to make another visit to examine additional material. If that is not possible, material may be retrieved from the store at the duty supervisor's discretion, if it is a temperate dry day and a member of staff is available to retrieve it.

Refreshment and lunch breaks

  • The reading room is normally closed for a mid-morning break and for half an hour at lunchtime. Users are advised to bring a packed lunch, or we can provide directions to one of the nearby pubs and cafés.

Closing time

  • The Archive normally closes at 3pm. An extension of time may be arranged in advance provided that sufficient Archive staff are available.