The National Archives

Front entrance of The National Archives
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The National Archives is the UK government's official archive, guaranteeing public access to over 1000 years of history with records ranging from parchment and paper scrolls through to digital files and archived websites. We are also at the heart of government information policy, to ensure the survival of today´s information for the future.

Venue Type:


Opening hours

Tuesday 09:00 - 19:00
Wednesday 09:00 - 17:00
Thursday 09:00 - 19:00
Friday 09:00 - 17:00
Saturday 09:00 - 17:00

Closed Sunday and Monday

Admission charges


Archives of the British government covering over a thousand years of world history and all seven continents from Arctic explorers and Middle Eastern embassies to papal bulls and the photographic collections of Colonial administrations.

Collection details

Weapons and War, Trade and Commerce, Social History, Photography, Maritime, Law and Order, Archives

Key artists and exhibits

  • Domesday Book
  • Magna Carta
  • Declaration of Independence
  • Valor Ecclesiasticus
  • Victorian photographs
Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.
Sarah Kogan

Changing the Landscape

  • 12 April — 17 September 2016 *on now

Supported using public funds by the National Lottery through the Arts Council England, Changing the Landscape follows Rifleman Barney Griew's first hand account of his journey from Hackney, London to Northern France, training to become a mapmaker and scout in the five months preceding his death on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

During this journey, Barney sent home over 180 illustrated letters, photographs and photographic postcards, often writing more than three times a day for five months - leaving us a unique, multifaceted, three-dimensional view of the run up to the battle.

Unusually, this unpublished archive is interpreted by Barney’s great-niece Kogan, who was originally read the letters as a child by her grandmother, Barney’s sister Fanny. The exhibition includes items and extracts of text from Barney’s unpublished archive, artworks generated by Kogan, archival material from The National Archives and a specially commissioned four part digital video installation by filmmaker Jeremy Bubb.

Changing the Landscape project includes a multimedia visual arts exhibition, education and talks programme.


Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.
Prisoners of war

Writing to a ghost: Far East prisoners of war

  • 28 July 2016 2-3pm *on now

Prisoners of war in the Far East experienced some of the most horrifying and traumatic conditions of the Second World War. But what of the experiences of family members and loved ones left at home during this time?

Writer Hilary Custance Green will talk about her new book Surviving the Death Railway, based on her father’s personal experiences. Using original records from our collection, Hilary will explore how prisoners and their loved ones coped at this time and attempted to rebuild their lives at the end of hostilities.



Potatoes in bread and other delicacies

  • 6 August 2016 From 10:30am, From 1pm

Did you know there was rationing in the First World War?

Did you know that because of rationing people used potatoes to make bread?

In a jam-packed session of activities, discover how the First and Second World Wars changed the way we ate.Explore our collection of documents on food during the wars. Then follow our family fun trail and find out what we’re planning to grow in our new First World War allotment.

Please note: adults do not need to book tickets for themselves.

Suitable for

  • Especially for children
  • Family friendly


William Shakespeare

The Shakespeare Records

  • 16 August 2016 10am-5pm

400 years after his death, we are still exploring what Shakespeare means to the world and to our national heritage.

This day of talks will examine his life, playhouses and career, drawing specifically on the invaluable original documents held in our collection.

The day will also include an exhibit of some of the most important manuscripts documenting Shakespeare’s life.

Speakers include Professor Grace Ioppolo, Professor Brian Vickers, and Museum of London Senior Archaeologist Julian Bowsher.

9:30 Doors open
10:00 Introductory remarks – Dr Amanda Bevan and Dr Katy Mair (The National Archives)
10:30 Shakespeare’s life – Prof Grace Ioppolo, FSA (University of Reading)
This talk will discuss original documents held at The National Archives and new theories about the life of William Shakespeare.
11:30 A presentation of original documents
Presented by our experts, you will get to view some of the remarkable documents that we hold relating to William Shakespeare.
12:15 Lunch
1:00 Shakespeare’s theatres – Julian Bowsher, FSA (Museum of London Archaeology)
This talk will focus on the various London venues used by Shakespeare, including theatres excavated by Julian and his colleagues: the Rose, Globe, Theatre and Curtain.
2:30 Shakespeare’s career – Sir Brian Vickers, FBA (University of London)
Sir Brian Vickers discusses Shakespeare’s career – his reputation, his methodology, the people with whom he wrote and how his plays were printed.
4:00 Roundtable discussion with participants
4.30 Cream tea

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children


Full price: £30
Friends of The National Archives: £24


Map of London

The Great Fire of London

  • 16 August 2016 From 10:30am, From 2pm
  • 30 August 2016 From 10:30am

Take part in our exciting family session, using original documents to find out about what happened during the Great Fire of London.

Then join professional storyteller Clive Greenwood as he takes you on an interactive journey through the events of 1666, in the days during and following the fire.

Please note: adults do not need to book tickets for themselves.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly
  • Especially for children


Map of London

A tourist's guide to Shakespeare's London

  • 17 August 2016 2-3pm

Discover what it was like to wander the streets of Shakespeare’s London. Though large portions of the city have been destroyed over the years by fire, war and developers, there is still a surprising number of buildings and places which survive from Shakespeare’s time.

Author David Thomas will speak on the sights, cuisine and pastimes of 16th century Londoners, while providing insight into what it was like to be a tourist during Shakespeare’s lifetime.


First World War soldiers

Cinema in the First World War

  • 24 August 2016 2-4pm

Cinema during the First World War was an art form in its infancy. But time and circumstance forced it to grow rapidly as a source of both information and entertainment.

This Hands on History session – led by ‘Gateways to the First World War’ – will look at the development of cinematic technologies, the impact of film on both the home and fighting fronts, and the profound effect the war had on cinema throughout the 1920s after the fighting had stopped.


Full price: £10.00
Friends of The National Archives: £8.00


William Shakespeare cartoon

Theatre Tots: Who was William Shakespeare?

  • 31 August 2016 From 10:15am, From 11:45am, From 1:30pm, From 3pm

With a focus on imagination and sensory work, this exciting show will be followed by a short workshop and an opportunity to view original documents from Shakespeare’s London.

This session is designed for 2-6 year olds, but older and younger siblings are also welcome.

Please note: adults do not need to book for themselves.

Suitable for

  • 0-4
  • 5-6




Still from The Battle of the Somme film

The Somme on film

  • 1 September 2016 7-9pm

This year, Imperial War Museums and members of the First World War Centenary Partnership are working together to show the UNESCO-listed film The Battle of the Somme to audiences across the world.

Using real-life silent footage, this feature-length film documented events during the ‘Big Push’ when French and British forces tried to break through German lines along the Western Front. Now, 100 years later, we will be screening The Battle of the Somme, in Kew, accompanied by a soundtrack composed by Laura Rossi and performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra.


Sarah Kogan

First World War research journeys: Changing the Landscape

  • 6 September 2016 2-3pm

Find out how Sarah retraced the footsteps of her great uncle who fought and died in the battle in a five-year research journey that led to the creation of her multimedia Battle of the Somme arts exhibition Changing the Landscape.

Discover the many ways you too can trace your own relatives who fought in the First World War.

Changing the Landscape runs from Tuesday 12 April to Saturday 17 September, along with a series of related events - supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.


Voices of the Home Fronts

Voices of the Home Fronts - an evening of talks

  • 8 September 2016 5:30-8pm

As part of the Voices of the Home Fronts conference, this evening of talks will feature leading writers and historians speaking about their recent work on the impact of the First World War.

The evening will look at life and society in the immediate aftermath of hostilities, while exploring how those who were left behind were affected by the traumatic events of war.

Speakers include historian and writer Richard Van Emden; Professor Maggie Andrews, University of Worcester; and Paul McGann, Liverpool John Moores University.


Full price: £10.00
Friends of The National Archives: £8.00


Voices of the Home Fronts

Voices of the Home Fronts conference

  • 8 — 10 September 2016

Voices of the Home Fronts is a great opportunity to hear about recent and ongoing research, inspire you to conduct new research and foster collaborations both nationally and internationally.

Topics will include military tribunals, conscientious objection, prisoners of war, voluntary organisations, racial and ethnic experiences, life under bombardment, refugees, international home fronts, women’s employment, health, food, dissent, newspapers, literature, profiteering, advertising, fashion, family life and more.

Sessions will be interspersed with special performances, exhibitions and screenings, as well as the opportunity to network and discover related museums and organisations.

Visit for details of the full programme.


Three day ticket: £75
One day ticket: £30


Prince Arthur

Prince Arthur: The Tudor King who never was

  • 15 September 2016 2-3pm

Had the elder son of Henry VII lived into adulthood, the early part of 16th century England would have been ruled by Arthur Tudor, his younger brother would never have become King Henry VIII and the subsequent history of England would have been very different.

Hear author and historian Sean Cunningham talk on Arthur’s life, his relationship with his brother and what might have been had the young prince lived to be king.


Knights at Agincourt

A Knight's Tale: Medieval fun day

  • 17 September 2016 10am-5pm

Ever wondered what it was like to be a knight in the Middle Ages?

Join us for an activity-packed day for all the family. Discover how knights armed themselves and watch how they fought in battle in a live combat display.

Kids can enjoy a medieval learning experience* with craft activities, including the opportunity to design their own medieval costume using collage and illustration.

Meanwhile, grownups can try their hand at reading original medieval records, alongside talks by our experts.

*Limited places – arrive early on the day, as sign-up will be on a first come, first served basis.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly
  • Especially for children


Day ticket: Free
Day ticket + combat display: £5.00


The Wicked Boy cover

The Wicked Boy: a talk by Kate Summerscale

  • 20 September 2016 2-3pm

In July 1895, two children, Robert and Nattie Coombes, were implicated in a terrible crime which challenged the Victorians’ very sense of morality.

Award-winning author Kate Summerscale (The Suspicions of Mr Whicher) will talk about the sensational true events detailed in her new book The Wicked Boy and the extensive research that went into writing it.


Full price: £10.00
Friends of The National Archives: £8.00



Defeating the Zeppelins

  • 22 September 2016 2-3pm

On Sunday 3 September 1916, William Leefe Robinson, a British pilot of the Royal Flying Corps, shot down the first German airship over mainland Britain. The action earned him a Victoria Cross. However, prior to this watershed moment Britain had struggled in finding an effective way to engage these colossal aircraft.

Ian Castle will discuss how Zeppelins terrorised the skies of Britain for well over a year, before eventually having their weakness exposed.


Richmond borough

Demystifying the archives: Richmond Borough at war

  • 27 September 2016 6-7pm

This joint talk, between The National Archives and Richmond Local Studies, will show you how to get the most out of archives.

Using original documents and case studies about Richmond Borough during the First and Second World Wars, you will discover how records held by two different organisations can link together in fascinating and often revealing ways.


Jonathan Dimbleby

The Battle of the Atlantic, a talk by Jonathan Dimbleby

  • 4 October 2016 7-8pm

The Battle of the Atlantic was the single most important campaign of the Second World War. Victory or defeat for Britain hung on the outcome of this six-year long struggle for supremacy in the Atlantic.

In this talk, broadcaster and acclaimed author Jonathan Dimbleby will show how Britain's success in the Battle of the Atlantic led to the allied victory in 1945. Through extraordinary personal diaries and letters written by both sailors and politicians, he will tell the epic story of how the allies won the war.


Full price: £10.00
Friends of The National Archives: £8.00


Jeff James, CEO

Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities 2016

  • 10 — 12 October 2016

The National Archives and Research Libraries UK are delighted to announce that registration is now open for this year’s Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities Conference – Collections, connections, collaborations: From potential to impact.

In the last decade, notions of impact have risen to the forefront of discourse and debate within the heritage, research, and academic sectors. As budgets across the heritage sector have retracted, organisations of every size and shape have had to review their working practices, and look at qualifying and quantifying the impact of their collections and activities, and their relation to wider social, cultural and economic agendas.

Simultaneously, academics, research bodies, and universities are actively considering the social, cultural and economic impact of their research, and are exploring innovative ways through which this can be demonstrated, as a part of the Research Excellence Framework (REF). Heritage and cultural organisations have shown themselves as valuable partners in the achievement, dissemination, and demonstration of impact for academic research, not as passive “routes to market”, but as valuable co-creators.

This year’s conference will bring together more than 70 speakers to discuss these issues and explore the varied and innovative ways in which archives, museums, libraries, and academia can help realise the potential of collections and translate this into social, cultural, and economic impact. Keynote speakers include:
• Nicola Wright (Director of LSE Library Services)
• Professor Carenza Lewis (Professor for the Public Understanding of Research, University of Lincoln).

There will also be a pre-conference reception at The Lowry on the Monday evening and on Tuesday the conference dinner will be held in the spectacular surroundings of the Imperial War Museum North.

So please join us for what will be a fascinating two and a half-days of discussion, debate and networking.


The Lowry
Pier 8, Salford Quays
M50 3AZ


£50 full conference/£30 day-rate (please note booking fees will apply)


Resources listed here may include websites, bookable tours and workshops, books, loan boxes and more. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all.

The National Archives




020 8876 3444

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.