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
Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.
Polaroid Camera

Protect and Survive: Britain’s Cold War Revealed

  • 4 April — 9 November 2019

Opening on 4 April 2019, exactly 70 years since the foundations of NATO were formed, The National Archives’ new exhibition ‘Protect and Survive: Britain’s Cold War Revealed’ will offer a fascinating insight into life in Britain during the turbulent Cold War era.

The immersive exhibition will recreate a government bunker and a 1980s living room, showing the impact of the Cold War on the government and on ordinary people’s lives. Visitors will see a range of archival material including George Orwell’s infamous list of suspected communist sympathisers, memos written by Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill and a plan of Lionel ‘Buster’ Crabb’s fateful spy mission.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a programme of high-profile events exploring the Cold War from a multitude of perspectives. Speakers will include Dame Stella Rimington, former Director General of MI5, who will discuss her extraordinary career in government and subsequent success as a writer.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Website

http://nationalarchives.gov.uk/coldwar

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.
Shelves with brown boxes

Behind the scenes tour

  • 22 February 2019 11am-12:30pm *on now
  • 29 March 2019 11am-12:30pm

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.

Admission

£10, book ahead

Website

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/behind-the-scenes-tour-tickets-53382098293?aff=culture24

Dr Miranda Kaufmann

Black Tudors

  • 28 February 2019 7:30-9pm

The stories of ten Africans and their paths through Tudor and Stuart England are traced in this fascinating new book, in which Dr Miranda Kaufmann uncovers a rich array of detail about their daily lives and how they were treated.

Admission

£10, book ahead.

Website

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/black-tudors-tickets-53141292035?aff=culture24

Rowan Coleman

Memory and Fiction: Rowan Coleman

  • 7 March 2019 7:30-9pm

Rowan Coleman is a Sunday Times bestselling author, who has published over ten books including The Memory Book, We Are All Made Of Stars and the critically acclaimed The Summer Of Impossible Things. Rowan’s fiction has covered a wide range of topics, exploring the concepts of family, memory and experience. Join us to find out more about the variety of stories, histories and archival research that inspires her writing. Her forthcoming novel will be published in the summer of 2019.

Admission

£20, book ahead

Website

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/memory-and-fiction-tickets-53437283353?aff=culture24

Man on bench beside placard that reads Glad to be Gay

LGBTQ+ history and collections at the Bishopsgate Institute

  • 8 March 2019 6:30-8:30pm

Bishopsgate Institute has been documenting the history and lives of the LGBTQ+ Community in the UK since 2011, when it became home to the Lesbian and Gay Newsmedia Archive; a national collection of over 300,000 press cuttings from the straight press covering all aspects of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer experience from the late nineteenth century to the present. We celebrate LGBT History Month with this talk by Stef Dickers, Special Collections and Archives Manager at the Bishopsgate Institute, who will delve into the amazing stories, experiences and vibrancy behind the rich LGBTQ+ collections held by the Bishopsgate Library.

Admission

£10, book ahead

Website

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/lgbtq-history-and-collections-at-the-bishopsgate-institute-tickets-53176638758?aff=culture24

Dr Nick Barrett

The Restless Kings: Dr. Nick Barratt

  • 12 March 2019 7:30-9pm

In The Restless Kings, historian and author Dr. Nick Barratt presents the tumultuous struggle for supremacy between the first Plantagenet king, Henry II, and his four sons - a drama that tore apart the most powerful family in western Europe and shaped the future of two nations.

Admission

£10, book ahead

Website

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-restless-kings-tickets-53175310786?aff=culture24

Aerial photograph with different sections outlined in red, green and orange

Mapping german missile attacks on London 1944-45

  • 15 March 2019 2-3pm

German V-1 and V-2 missiles, used in attacks against Britain in 1944 and 45, were weapons designed to wreak mass devastation on urban areas. Using fascinating visual sources from The National Archives, this talk by Professor Stephen Evans from the University of Waterloo, Canada, will explore the extent of destruction these weapons inflicted on London, despite British interception techniques of the time.

Admission

£5, book ahead

Website

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/mapping-german-missile-attacks-on-london-1944-45-tickets-53254688206?aff=culture24

Girl modelling clay

Building London

  • 16 March 2019 10:30am-12pm

Take part in a mini-mission to explore iconic landmarks such as the Houses of Parliament, Hampton Court Palace and 10 Downing Street. Use drawings and plans from the collection to uncover how these buildings have changed. Then, craft your very own building to help recreate a giant map of London!

Suitable for

  • 7-10

Admission

£7.50, book ahead.

This session is designed for children aged 7 to 11. Adults do not need to book for themselves. Younger siblings are welcome at this event, children under 7 go free. Please book a free ticket for younger children.

Website

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/time-travel-club-building-london-7-11-tickets-53341361448?aff=culture24

Lines of South Asian soldiers with their arms outstretched

Webinar: Loyalty and Dissent: South Asia and the First World War

  • 19 March 2019 1-1:45pm

This webinar, which forms part of a project The National Archives embarked upon in 2016, explores the tension between loyalty and dissent to an all-powerful British Imperial State.The webinar will focus primarily on the FO 371 record series, providing an introductory guide to searching this series for relevant material.

Where

Online only

Website

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/loyalty-and-dissent-south-asia-and-the-first-world-war-tickets-53286970764?aff=culture24

Medieval manuscript showing a king inside the letter D

Prince Arthur: The Tudor king who never was

  • 20 March 2019 2-3pm

During the early part of the sixteenth century, England should have been ruled by King Arthur Tudor, not Henry VIII. Had Arthur, the first-born son of Henry VII, lived into adulthood, his younger brother Henry would never have become King of England. The nation’s subsequent history would have been very different, since the massive religious, social and political changes of Henry VIII’s reign might not have been necessary at all. In this talk, our Head of Medieval Records, Dr Sean Cunningham, will look at Prince Arthur’s life and assess what type of king he might have been in lieu of the changes wrought by his brother Henry VIII.

Admission

£5, book ahead

Website

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/prince-arthur-the-tudor-king-who-never-was-tickets-53176352903?aff=culture24

Old map of Ireland

Dominus Hibernie/Rex Hiberniae: pre-modern Ireland, 1200-1801

  • 21 — 23 March 2019

From the late-twelfth-century conquest to the union of the kingdoms, Ireland was a key constituent element of the dominions of the monarchs of England and Great Britain, their royal title and identity. The National Archives arguably holds the world’s most important collection of records of relevance to the history of pre-modern Ireland but it remains under-utilised. In bringing together historians of medieval and early modern Ireland, this symposium aims to facilitate discussion of continuity and change across six centuries of Irish history by putting into sharper focus the collections with relevance to pre-modern Ireland at The National Archives. #premodernireland

Admission

£24-100

Website

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/dominus-hibernierex-hiberniae-pre-modern-ireland-1200-1801-registration-51646675597?aff=culture24

King Henry VI

Shadow King: The Life and Death of Henry VI

  • 28 March 2019 6:30-8pm

A talk and signing to coincide with the publication of a new popular history study on the life of King Henry VI, by Dr Lauren Johnson; author of The Arrow of Sherwood (2013) and So Great a Prince (2016). This talk will chart the extraordinary rise and fall of the son of Henry V, who became king as an infant but who, as an adult ruler, oversaw the loss of the English claim to the throne of France, and whose inabilities sparked the Wars of the Roses in England.

Admission

£10, book ahead

Website

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/shadow-king-the-life-and-death-of-henry-vi-tickets-53175581596?aff=culture24

Dame Stella Rimington

An evening with Dame Stella Rimington

  • 5 April 2019 7:30-9:30pm

Known worldwide as the inspiration for Dame Judi Dench’s character ‘M’ in the James Bond films, Dame Stella Rimington is now an iconic face of British espionage. She was the first woman to be appointed head of the Security Service (better known as MI5) and the first Director General to have been publicly named in the government’s spirit of openness. Now an acclaimed writer, Dame Stella’s most recent book, The Moscow Sleepers, is the tenth in her ‘Liz Carlyle’ thriller series. Join us for this very special event at The National Archives, as Dame Stella discusses her life, career and writing.

Admission

£28-35

Website

https://bit.ly/2GThueD

Binoculars

The scandalous case of John Vassall

  • 25 April 2019 2-3pm

In 1962, while working as a clerk in the British Embassy in Moscow, homosexual civil servant John Vassall was caught in a ‘honey trap’ sprung by the Soviet Secret Service. He was blackmailed into passing secrets to the Soviet Union and as a result sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment for espionage. Our contemporary records specialist Mark Dunton delves deeper into this scandal - one of a series that rocked the Macmillan government in the early 1960s, feeding into a national obsession with spy culture at the time.

Admission

£4-5

Website

https://bit.ly/2GU4chK

Tape player and headphones

From the bomb to The Beatles

  • 9 May 2019 7:30-9pm

Mini-skirts, the Rolling Stones, the Festival of Britain and top-loading washing machines - all these played their part in an era defined by change. In this talk, Juliet Gardiner traces the fascinating cultural and social developments in Britain in the twenty years following the Second World War; from the restricted culture of 1945 to the dawn of heady freedoms in the 1960's.

Admission

£12-15

Website

https://bit.ly/2GTZwbZ

Joystick

Archives at Night: Cold War Revealed

  • 17 May 2019 7-10pm

Fancy yourself as a bit of a modern history buff? From pop culture to spies and scandal, test your trivia knowledge at this fun evening event at the UK’s very own home of history, The National Archives. There will also be the chance to immerse yourself in the era through gallery tours of our new exhibition Protect and Survive, 80s inspired-craft and more. The evening is hosted by quizmaster Sean Carey, and promises laughs and entertainment from start to finish. Who knew dwelling on the past could be so fun?

Admission

£12-15

Website

https://bit.ly/2BK02FY

Typewriter

Creative writing workshop: Protect and survive

  • 22 June 2019 1:30-4:30pm

Join us for a post-apocalyptic creative writing workshop, inspired by our exhibition Protect and Survive, touching upon themes ranging from Cold War bunkers, censorship and redaction. The workshop will be led by award-winning poet and creative writing tutor Suzannah Evans.

Admission

£36-45

Website

https://bit.ly/2NeZCMt

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

logo: Museums at Night

Website

http://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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