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
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.
Library shelves at The National Archives

Catalogue Day

  • 27 November 2015 10am-4pm *on now

Our annual Catalogue Day showcases a number of current projects and initiatives from across The National Archives, along with updates on the development of Discovery, our online catalogue.


Hauling up boat out of rip at Great Isaac Lighthouse

First World War: Caribbean family history day

  • 28 November 2015 10:30am-4pm

Learn how to research your First World War Caribbean ancestors. With research clinics where you can ask experts anything from tracing a soldier to caring for your family records, and opportunities to tour our research rooms and attend a film screening.

The itinerary for the day is:

10:30-10:40 - Welcome and introduction to the day
10:40-11:30 - Research Clinics and tea/coffee
11:30-12:30 - Caribbean participants in the First World War talk and Q&A
12:30-14:00 - Research Clinics/Lunch
14:00-15:00 - ‘Mutiny’ short film screening plus Q&A with film maker
15:00-16:00 - Panel/open discussion

Mini tours of the research and enquiry rooms will be held throughout the day.


First World War nurses

Worn out by war: Disabled soldiers and their pensions

  • 1 December 2015 2-3pm

This talk will introduce the pension records of the Royal Hospital of Chelsea (home of the famous Chelsea Pensioners) and use them to explore the experiences of disabled veterans in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Speaker, Dr Caroline Nielsen, is a Lecturer at the University of Northampton and specialises in the history of disability and war.


Blind man in 19th century

Blindness in Victorian Britain: A history of advocacy

  • 3 December 2015 2-3pm

Blindness in the Victorian era was an issue of popular - and often fraught – debate. Using the history of finger reading, this talk will trace how blind and visually-impaired people became increasingly vocal in seeking control and ownership over social and political issues that directly affected them, introducing some of the era's most prominent and influential blind campaigners.

Speaker Heather Tilley is a British Academy postdoctoral research fellow at Birkbeck, University of London. She has recently curated exhibitions on the history of assistive reading technologies for blind people at Birkbeck and a display of prominent blind and visually-impaired people in the National Portrait Gallery's collection.


Discovery web page

Using Discovery: Getting the most from our online catalogue

  • 3 December 2015 11:15am-12pm

This workshop will focus on three key topics that will help you use Discovery to locate the records you want. You will look at:

- Best practice methods for simple and advanced searches
- Browsing records
- Sorting and saving your results.

You will also have the chance to practise, with members of staff on hand to help.


1939 Register

Using the 1939 Register: Recording the UK population before the war

  • 8 December 2015 2-3pm

The preparations had been made well in advance. Now Britain was at war, and as the uniformed army prepared to face the enemy, a civilian army was mobilised at home. National Registration Officers, registrars, and 65,000 enumerators set about the huge task of registering every man, woman and child in a single weekend. It all went remarkably smoothly.

This is the story of the 1939 Register for England and Wales, how it was taken, and what happened next.

This is another chance to hear our expert talk about the 1939 Register. The content will be the same as the webinar on 24 November but this time you can come to Kew to hear the talk in person.


Shell Shocked Britain

Shell-Shocked Britain: Understanding the lasting trauma of the First World War

  • 10 December 2015 2-3pm

Millions of soldiers were scarred by their experiences in the First World War trenches, but how new was what we now know as ‘shell shock’? What treatments were on offer? And what happened after the men came home?

Writer and researcher, Suzie Grogan, reveals the First World War's legacy for soldiers, their families, the communities they lived in and the nation as a whole. The talk will include discussions on the rise of spiritualism, the impact of the Spanish influenza outbreak, air raids on the Home Front, the trauma experienced by the survivors, and why the conflict still resonates into the 21st century.


Dominic Sandbrook

Writer of the Month: Dominic Sandbrook

  • 16 December 2015 2-3pm

One of Britain’s best-known historians, Dominic Sandbrook, makes a welcome return to our Writer of the Month series. He will discuss his new book, a history of the modern British imagination, telling the story of how, as our political and economic fortunes declined, we reinvented ourselves as entertainers to the world.

Taking his cue from Danny Boyle’s extraordinary opening ceremony at the London Olympics in 2012, Dominic looks at our popular culture since the turn of the 20th century including the film empire of J. Arthur Rank; the rise of the country-house novel; the appeal of the Harry Potter books; the origins of Coronation Street; the rise of the TV talent show; the origins of Black Sabbath; the novels of Agatha Christie, Catherine Cookson and John Wyndham; the long shadows of Charles Dickens and HG Wells; the life of Elton John; the success of To the Manor Born; the triumph of the Young British Artists; and the worldwide impact of British-made video games such as Grand Theft Auto.


Full price: £6.00
Friends of The National Archives: £4.80


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.