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 *on now

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.
Drawing of woman with book

My Grandad: The Spy - Interactive Family Adventure

  • 20 July 2019 10am-4:30pm

Tanya is certain that her Grandad was a spy, but here at The National Archives she can’t find out the truth on her own. She needs your help! Find clues, break codes and keep undercover on this top secret mission. Join Tanya on her adventure to discover the facts about her Grandad’s hidden history.
________

Produced by BAFTA Award winning interactive theatre makers Coney, MY GRANDAD: THE SPY is an adventure for families (7+), made in response to The National Archives' exhibition Protect and Survive: Britain’s Cold War Revealed.

Suitable for

  • 7-10
  • Family friendly

Website

http://bit.ly/spy24

A cartoon mouse painting with an easel

Time Travel Tots

  • 7 August 2019 10am-12pm
  • 4 September 2019 10am-12pm

We invite pre-schoolers and their carers to join our sensory drop-in sessions in the public restaurant, to learn and play together.

Takes place on the first Wednesday of every month.

Suitable for

  • 0-4

Website

http://bit.ly/timtraveltots24

"Two visitors to the Cold War exhibition beside a wall covered with civil defense posters"

Protect & Survive: Exhibition Tours

  • 16 July 2019 1:30-2:30pm *on now
  • 25 July 2019 3-4pm
  • 27 July 2019 11:30am-12:30pm, 1:30-2:30pm
  • 4 August 2019 11:30am-12:30pm, 1:30-2:30pm, 3-4pm
  • 13 August 2019 1:30-2:30pm
  • 22 August 2019 3-4pm
  • 1 September 2019 11:30am-12:30pm, 1:30-2:30pm, 3-4pm
  • 10 September 2019 1:30-2:30pm
  • 19 September 2019 3-4pm
  • 21 September 2019 11:30am-12:30pm, 1:30-2:30pm
  • 6 October 2019 11:30am-12:30pm, 1:30-2:30pm, 3-4pm
  • 15 October 2019 1:30-2:30pm
  • 19 October 2019 11:30am-12:30pm, 1:30-2:30pm
  • 24 October 2019 3-4pm
  • 3 November 2019 11:30am-12:30pm, 1:30-2:30pm, 3-4pm
  • 5 November 2019 1:30-2:30pm
  • 7 November 2019 3-4pm

The Cold War was a 46-year stand-off between the world’s communist and capitalist superpowers, made all the more tense by the threat of nuclear war. Discover the real evidence of what happened during this turbulent era of secrets and paranoia. Immerse yourself in the shadowy world of espionage, learn how menacing the Cold War became, and witness the experiences of the generations that lived through it.

Tours will take place on the dates and times listed. Please arrive promptly.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Website

http://bit.ly/tours24

Poster of a plane flying with the words 'Bomber Command'

Information at War: The Ministry of Information 1936-1946

  • 18 July 2019 6:30-8:30pm

The Ministry of Information (MoI) was established by a government which recognised that the understanding and morale of the civilian population in the UK – and elsewhere – was critical to a successful outcome. To this end the Ministry used every form of communication available to it, including newspapers, comics, radio, films, even model aeroplane kits. Join Professor Simon Eliot as he explores the difficult early years of the Ministry of Information and its bid to win public confidence.

Website

http://bit.ly/ministryinformation24

Headshot of Michael Palin

Michael Palin: Pole to Pole and the Last Days of the USSR

  • 25 July 2019 7:30-9pm

In July and August 1991, Michael Palin travelled through the Soviet Union filming popular BBC series Pole To Pole. By the end of that year, the Soviet Union had collapsed. In this illustrated talk, Palin will recall the last days of the USSR, and his time spent there.

Admission

£25

Website

http://bit.ly/Palin24

A black and white photo of old spy devices

Time Travel Craft Club: Summer of Spies

  • 25 July 2019 12-3pm
  • 1 August 2019 12-3pm
  • 8 August 2019 12-3pm
  • 15 August 2019 12-3pm
  • 22 August 2019 12-3pm
  • 29 August 2019 12-3pm

Join us for our new Thursday series of free, drop-in craft afternoons, delving into the mysterious world of spies!

Suitable for

  • Any age

Website

http://bit.ly/summerofspies24

Black and white photograph of people crossing a bridge that faces on to an Indian-style building

Truths refuse to die: excavating buried stories in the time of the Raj

  • 1 August 2019 6:30-8:30pm

The lives of Sophia Duleep Singh and Udam Singh could not be more different – one a princess and suffragette, the other an assassin – yet both their stories illuminate defining moments in recent British and Indian history.

In Anita Anand’s work, investigative journalism meets archival research to examine the relationship between Britain and India in the early twentieth century. Join Anand to explore the way in which archives bear witness to history and can give voice to hidden stories.

Website

http://bit.ly/truths24

A cropped drawing showing half of Handel's face

Composing Wills: Legacies of Early Modern Musicians

  • 2 August 2019 2-3pm

The National Archives’ collection of Prerogative Court of Canterbury wills and associated probate records offer a rich picture of society in England and Wales over a period of about 500 years. Ruth Selman, Principal Early Modern Records Specialist, will explore the wills left by musical luminaries including Henry Purcell and George Frideric Handel, between the 16th and 18th centuries. The changing styles of will-making across the period will be highlighted with fascinating examples and an accompanying document display will provide an opportunity to view Handel’s original will and other probate documents.

Admission

£7.50

Website

http://bit.ly/musicians24

Old map of the Arab world

Lawrence, of Arabia and Beyond

  • 9 August 2019 2-4pm

TE Lawrence’s role in the First World War is best remembered as that of a young, dashing officer leading the Arab Revolt in white billowing robes. This talk by Overseas Records Specialist Dr Juliette Desplat will look beyond hero worship, at lesser known aspects of Lawrence’s war – and some of his failures.

Admission

£5

Website

http://bit.ly/lawrence24

Drawing of a skeleton with various arrows in it, entitled 'The British Constitution, 1819'

The Peterloo Massacre at 200

  • 13 August 2019 7:30-9pm

On 16 August 1819, 60,000 peaceful pro-democracy protestors gathered in Manchester. They were charged by cavalry, leaving at least 15 dead. This event became known as the Peterloo Massacre. 200 years on, our experts will examine Peterloo’s impact on the parliamentary reform movements; on the use of the military to maintain civil power; and ask what bearing the massacre had on the way we think today about the history of democracy. Footage from Mike Leigh’s acclaimed Peterloo, and original testimonies, will provide context.

Admission

£15

Website

http://bit.ly/peterloo24

A stone carving of a coat of arms

Writs of passage: medieval Anglo-French relations though the Gascon rolls

  • 15 August 2019 6:30-8:30pm

Gascony was held by the kings of England for almost five centuries from 1154 to 1453. Whilst the extent of English territories fluctuated, they remained an important part of the English crown, standing outside (at least in English opinion) the kingdom of France which English kings claimed from 1337 onwards.

The Gascon Rolls held in The National Archives (C 61) record interactions between the crown and its Gascon subjects, including the all-important wine trade. Join Professor Curry as she demonstrates the fascinating insights revealed by a project, now on the verge of completion, to create an online calendar of the rolls.

Website

http://bit.ly/gascon24

A pair of green binoculars

The legacy of secrecy: experiences from the Stasi Records Archive

  • 16 August 2019 2-3pm

The East German Stasi have earned the reputation of one of the most effective and repressive intelligence and secret police agencies ever to have existed, forcing their methods for collecting information on their citizens. 30 years after German citizens regained control from the Stasi in 1990, Dagmar Hovestädt – Head of Press at the Stasi Records Archive – explores this controversial corner of history and just how the Stasi Archive manages its wealth of top secret material never meant for public eyes…

Admission

£5

Website

http://bit.ly/Stasi24

Black and white photograph of spying devices with a cartoon mouse spy overlaid

The Time Travel Club: Spying on Spies

  • 22 August 2019 10:30am-12pm

Step inside a world of secrets, gadgets and disguises, exploring spy files from our collection. You will follow the stories of spies, including those that feature in our exhibition.

Make your own spy disguise to take home!

Suitable for

  • 7-10

Admission

£7.50

Website

http://bit.ly/spyingonspies24

Drawing of insects on leaves with a cartoon mouse with a magnifying glass overlaid.

The Time Travel Club: A Bug's Eye View

  • 27 August 2019 10:30-11:30am

Take part in a sensory storytelling adventure and experience a bug’s world! Make friends with different bugs along the way and explore some of the records about bugs in our collection.

Make your very own bug and join us for a bug hunt in the grounds. This event is followed by an additional 30-minute optional trail in the gardens.

Suitable for

  • 5-6

Admission

£5

Website

http://bit.ly/abugseyeview24

Stacks of old letters

Written treasure: correspondence from captured ships, 1652-1815

  • 29 August 2019 6:30-8:30pm

As pirates buried their captured gold and jewels, their legal cousins - privateers and navies – left a written treasure almost as well hidden. Thousands of letters sent across the seas were swept into their captors’ hauls, brought into court, and forgotten. If delivered, the letters would likely not have survived.

Written by people of all ranks - wives and husbands, parents and children, partners in business - they speak of hope and death, news and gossip. These letters come to us from an expanding world of slavery and sugar, European colonisation and trade, peace and war: the precursor to our world.

Website

http://bit.ly/letters24

Bridget Kendall stands in a bright paneled room

Oral Histories of The Cold War

  • 5 September 2019 7:30-9pm

Bridget Kendall explores the Cold War through the eyes of those who experienced it first-hand. Alongside historical and political context, her work draws on exclusive interviews with individuals who lived through the conflict’s key events, offering a variety of perspectives that reveal how the Cold War was experienced by ordinary people. Bridget Kendall MBE is a journalist who also served as the BBC’s Diplomatic Correspondent.

Admission

£15

Website

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/oral-histories-of-the-cold-war-tickets-63331851272?aff=culture24

Wax seal showing a carving of Elizabeth the First

Waxing Lyrical: The Joy of Medieval and Early Modern Seals

  • 6 September 2019 2-3:30pm

The National Archives holds thousands of wax seals dating from the 11th to 20th centuries. Before the signature became the most commonly accepted method of validating and authenticating a record, the seal – produced by the making of a personal, often artistic, mark in a soft material by the use of a hard, engraved negative – held sway.

Even as the signature began to take over, the seal still retained an important place in legal written culture. Principal Medieval Records Specialist Dr Paul Dryburgh will introduce seals, sealing practices and how sealing changed over time, with an accompanying document display highlighting some of the finest examples in our collection.

Admission

£7.50

Website

http://bit.ly/seals24

A medieval image of people sat at a table with a cartoon mouse pointing overlaid

Medieval Murmurings

  • 7 September 2019 10:30am-3pm

The whole family can discover the magic of written and spoken language at our medieval day this summer.

Start by unlocking the secrets of the iconic Domesday book in our ‘de-coding Domesday’ workshop, then get creative in our medieval craft corner and dressing- up booth.

Younger children can also enjoy an interactive re-telling of Chaucer’s classic tales with a professional storyteller.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Website

http://bit.ly/medieval24

Black and white headshot of Klaus Fuchs

On the trail of Klaus Fuchs, atomic spy

  • 13 September 2019 2-3pm

Arguably the most important ‘atomic’ spy of the 20th century, Klaus Fuchs was a German physicist who worked on the British and US-led atomic projects of the Cold War era. In 1950, Fuchs was caught passing vital secrets to the Soviet Union and sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment.

Our exhibition curator Mark Dunton delves into Security Service files in our collection to uncover how the authorities managed to unmask Fuchs and secure his confession, and reveals a fascinating local connection with Kew.

Admission

£5

Website

http://bit.ly/KlausFuchs24

A photograph of The National Archives' building with the Open House logo overlayed

Open House London at The National Archives

  • 21 July — 21 September 2019
  • 21 September 2019 11am-12:30pm, 1-2:30pm, 2-3:30pm

Discover what goes on inside The National Archives, south-west London’s hidden brutalist masterpiece.

Special tours, including of our repositories, will explain how we use the space to preserve and conserve the nation’s historical documents for future generations, and give insight into the origins of the building, the distinctive 1970s design of which has not always found favour, but has stood the test of time.

Website

http://bit.ly/openhouse24

Envelope addressed to Police Office London written in cut-out newspaper type.

The Five: the untold lives of the women killed by Jack the Ripper

  • 26 September 2019 7:30-9pm

Though they never met, five women – Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane – are bound together in history and fate. All brutally murdered in 1888, their killer was never officially identified. But the character created by the press in the absence of conviction – ‘Jack the Ripper’ – has long overshadowed any of the victims. Author Hallie Rubenhold will discuss her fascinating new research, alongside a display of original documents which reflect womens’ lives, the context of their murders and late 19th-century Whitechapel.

Admission

£10

Website

http://bit.ly/ripper24

Bookcover of 'The Hidden'

Mary Chamberlain's The Hidden

  • 27 September 2019 2-3:30pm

Join renowned novelist and historian Mary Chamberlain as she discusses her recent novel The Hidden, a story of love and betrayal, shame and survival, set against the backdrop of Nazi-occupied Jersey during the Second World War. Chamberlain’s historical inspiration for her latest novel draws heavily on files from The National Archives, some of which will be available to view after the talk.

Admission

£7.50

Website

http://bit.ly/thehidden24

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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