The National Archives

Front entrance of The National Archives
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The National Archives is the official archives and publisher for the UK Government, and for England and Wales. We work to bring together and secure the future of the public record, both digital and physical, for future generations.

The National Archives is open to all, offering a range of activities and spaces to enjoy, as well as our reading rooms for research. Many of our most popular records are also available online.

Website: www.nationalarchives.gov.uk
Twitter: @UKNatArchives
Facebook: The National Archives

Venue Type:

Archive, Museum, Heritage site

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

Free. Some events paid for.

Getting there

10 minutes walk from Kew Gardens underground station (District line)
15 minutes walk from Kew Bridge mainline station (South West trains)
R68 bus route

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.
Ambassadors and arms dealers event image

Ambassadors and arms dealers in sixteenth-century Italy

  • 16 August 2017 4:45-6:30pm *on now

In this talk, Dr Catherine Fletcher will explore the exponential rise in the production, sale and ownership of handguns in the first half of the sixteenth century. From a plot to smuggle gunpowder into Siena in wine barrels, to gun-toting Lutheran women in the Italian hills, this talk explores the challenge handguns posed for international relations.

Admission

Free

Website

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ambassadors-and-arms-dealers-in-16th-century-italy-tickets-34881910734?aff=culture24

Behind the scenes - Art - event image

Behind the scenes: Art in the archives

  • 18 August 2017 10am-12pm

We are opening the doors of The National Archives’ repositories to offer you the chance to go behind the scenes. Discover how we keep and maintain the record for future generations and explore some of the hidden gems in our collections – particularly those relating to the world of art and artists.

Admission

£12

Website

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/behind-the-scenes-tour-art-in-the-archives-tickets-35405065504?aff=culture24

Unheard, ignored and misrepresented event image

Unheard, ignored and misrepresented: The Victorian pauper ‘in their own write’

  • 23 August 2017 4:45-6:30pm

Dr Paul Carter will look at welfare in the Victorian period. Most accounts from the time were written from the standpoint of the legislators. Yet thousands of pauper letters survive in “the poor law archive” and many of these dispute official accounts of how the poor were treated at a local level. This lecture will seek to examine how those who controlled the official administrative processes also controlled the ‘official’ versions of events regarding pauper treatment.

Admission

Free

Website

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/unheard-ignored-and-misrepresented-the-victorian-pauper-in-their-own-write-tickets-34881969911?aff=culture24

Treasure boxes event image

Family event – Treasure boxes

  • 29 August 2017 10:30am-12pm

Unlock secrets from the past with an interactive session looking at historical archive chests from The National Archives. Led by freelance preschool specialist Lizzie Kendall, visitors will have the opportunity to decorate their very own treasure chest and create a personal document to store inside it. This session is designed for children aged two to six.

Suitable for

  • 0-4
  • 5-6

Admission

Free

Website

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/family-event-treasure-boxes-tickets-34745331221?aff=culture24

Hitler lives event image

Hitler lives!: ‘Alternative facts’ and conspiracy theories

  • 30 August 2017 4:45-6:30pm

This lecture, by Professor Sir Richard Evans, will explore the rumours of Hitler’s survival that have persisted since his suicide in the Berlin bunker on 30 April 1945. This talk will look at these claims and discuss why and where they originated and what evidence has been advanced to support them.

Admission

Free

Website

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/hitler-lives-alternative-facts-and-conspiracy-theories-tickets-34882019058?aff=culture24

Performing suffrage

Performing suffrage: Theatre, actresses and activism

  • 5 September 2017 2-3:30pm

The Actresses’ Franchise League was formed in 1908 by a group of theatre professionals keen to support Votes for Women. The league produced a huge variety of entertainments, contributing to the performative propaganda of the suffrage movement and embracing new forms, new spaces, new ideas, and new audiences. In this talk, Dr Naomi Paxton will explore the work and legacy of the suffragist actresses and actors of the Actresses’ Franchise League, and the part that the league played in the campaign for equal rights.

Admission

Free

Website

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/performing-suffrage-theatre-actresses-and-activism-tickets-34745421491?aff=culture24

Conan Doyle

Conan Doyle and First World War armour

  • 7 September 2017 2-3pm

Best known as the mastermind behind Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was also a prominent campaigner during the First World War. After witnessing first hand the devastation of bullets and shrapnel when his son was seriously wounded in battle, Conan Doyle became a committed advocate of better armour for soldiers. Philip Abbott, Archives and Records Manager at the Royal Armouries, Leeds, will discuss his campaign – and the War Office’s response.

Admission

Free

Website

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/conan-doyle-and-first-world-war-armour-tickets-34745507749?aff=culture24

Richmond Park

Richmond Park’s South African military hospital

  • 13 September 2017 1:30-3:30pm

After the South African army suffered devastating losses during the First World War, a dedicated military hospital was established in London to treat the wounded. Conceived at the outbreak of war by a committee of prominent South Africans living in London, the hospital was finally built in 1916 on a 12-acre site in Richmond Park provided by King George V.

As part of the Know Your Place heritage festival, The National Archives are teaming up with Richmond Local Studies for a one-off talk that gives an insight into the lives of the South African soldiers and the medical staff who treated them.

Admission

Free

Website

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/richmond-parks-south-african-military-hospital-tickets-34745799622?aff=culture24

Behind the scenes - Crime

Behind the scenes: Crime in the archives

  • 15 September 2017 10am-12pm

We are opening the doors of The National Archives’ repositories to offer you the chance to go behind the scenes. Discover how we keep and maintain the record for future generations and explore some of the hidden gems in our collections – particularly those relating to the world of crime and criminals.

Admission

£12

Website

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/behind-the-scenes-tour-crime-in-the-archives-tickets-35405602109?aff=culture24

Open House

Open House

  • 16 September 2017 10am-12pm

Discover what goes on inside The National Archives, South West London’s hidden Brutalist masterpiece.

To mark 40 years on our site at Kew, The National Archives invites you on a journey behind-the-scenes at the world’s largest archive. In 1977, the then Public Record Office undertook one of the biggest ever relocations of its kind by moving from its late Victorian Chancery Lane building (known as ‘The Strongbox of the Empire’) to an innovative Brutalist building, sited improbably amongst Kew’s Victorian terraces. Its controversial design has not always found favour but its many distinctive archival features have stood the test of time with the building still used for its original purpose.

Special tours will explain how we use the space to preserve and conserve the nation’s historical documents for future generations and give insight into the thinking behind the original design. In addition to site tours there will be specialist talks, displays and screenings, charting the history of the former Public Records Office (now The National Archives) and some of the highlights of our vast collection.

Admission

Free

Website

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/open-house-tickets-34792316756?aff=culture24

Faces from the front

Faces from the Front

  • 27 September 2017 2-3pm

21 million soldiers were wounded during the First World War, and the nature of trench warfare meant that an unprecedented number suffered disfiguring facial injuries. Casualties were evacuated back to England, where the sheer volume of patients enabled medics to develop new treatments very quickly. The advances made by a young surgeon named Harold Gillies gave rise to modern facial plastic surgery.

Dr Andrew Bamji is Gillies Archivist to the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons. A retired consultant in rheumatology and rehabilitation, he will talk about surgical advances, the psychological effects of facial
disfigurement, and the differences in surgical approach between the UK and the continent during the war.

Admission

Free

Website

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/faces-from-the-front-tickets-34745952078?aff=culture24

Time Travel Club Day

  • 30 September 2017 10am-4pm

We are launching our new-look family programme with a taster day of activities for all the family! Join us and travel back through 1,000 years, exploring different periods in history and learning about real stories from the past.

Take part in our interactive performances with clowns Shake and Speare to discover the life and times of England’s best known playwright, or come along to a wide range of learning sessions throughout the day to find out more about wartime espionage, child criminals and medieval treasure chests. We’ll also have lots of drop-in activities to keep the whole family entertained.

Time Travellers will be given a passport on arrival and can collect stamps throughout the day for each activity they take part in. Activities are particularly suitable for children aged between three and eleven, although younger and older children are also welcome. Adults are responsible for supervising children and must remain with them at all times during the event. Some activities (such as performances and learning sessions) have limited capacity and should be booked in advance; other activities are on a first come, first served basis throughout the day.

Suitable for

  • 0-4
  • 5-6
  • 7-10
  • 11-13

Admission

£0-£8

Website

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/time-travel-club-day-tickets-34232723999?aff=culture24

Archives at Night: Cabinet of Curiosities

Archives at Night: Cabinet of Curiosities

  • 27 October 2017 6:30-10pm

An essential part of any self-respecting Edwardian antiquarian’s home, a ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ or ‘Wonder Room’, contained their collection of unusual and extraordinary items.

For one night only, as part of Museums at Night, we will open our own Edwardian Cabinet of Curiosities. Delve into our records charting the popularity of Egyptology and fascination with all things archaeology; the rise of spiritualists, along with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s correspondence on the treatment of mediums; late 19th and early 20th century practices for dealing with death, from designs of coffins and funerary monuments, to the vast out of town cemeteries – cities of the dead. Take a step even further back in time from the Edwardian era to learn about infamous witch trials and the history of sorcery.

Talks and document displays:
Our own and visiting experts will thrill you with talks and document displays on all this and more, exploring some of the more unusual documents and objects from our collection. We are delighted to welcome the Cemetery Club - experts in tombstone tourism - to share their fascination with graveyards.

Attend a mummy unwrapping party:
The centrepiece of the evening will be the re-enactment of a 19th century mummy unwrapping party, brought to you by Odette Toilette – Purveyor of Olfactory Adventures! You'll find out how mummies were procured for these events, who attended them, what the guests saw, and what became of the mummy's remains after the party ended. Under the expert guidance of Egyptologist John J. Johnston, and with a wrapped 'mummy' by Art Macabre on the operating table, you will witness the recreation of the process before your very eyes and under your very noses. (No mummies will be damaged during this entertainment…).

This event will involve smelling scents. Those with identified allergies to perfume should avoid the session.

You will need to select an early or late mummy party when booking (19:00-19:45 or 20:20-21:00). Please be aware that due to venue capacity you will only be able to attend the session that you book.

Do not miss your chance to experience all of this, plus a themed photobooth, music, a cocktail bar, a very special menu from our new restaurant, as well as prizes and giveaways.

Your ticket price includes a complimentary drink on arrival.

Feel free to come in costume inspired by our Edwardian theme or any of the subjects we are featuring on the night ...

This event is strictly adults only (18+).

More activities to be announced and the programme is subject to change.

Suitable for

  • 18+

Admission

£22

Website

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/archives-at-night-cabinet-of-curiosities-tickets-36607975440?aff=MuseumsatNight

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.

Getting there

10 minutes walk from Kew Gardens underground station (District line)
15 minutes walk from Kew Bridge mainline station (South West trains)
R68 bus route

The National Archives
Kew
Surrey
TW9 4DU
England

Website

www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

E-mail

enquiry@nationalarchives.gov.uk

Telephone

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.
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