West Sussex Record Office

Using the Record Office searchroom

3 Orchard Street, Chichester, PO19 1DD

How to use the Record Office searchroom.

Tell me more

Get the most from your visit by familiarising yourself with the following guidance before your visit.


The searchroom is the area of the Record Office where you can gain access to, and study, the vast array of records and documents available in our archives.

For some collections you will be able to access the originals. For others you will be able to view the information on microfiche or microfilm.

Please see our Visiting the Record Office page for information on planning a visit.

Entry to the searchroom

Before entering the searchroom, you must store all bags and briefcases in a personal locker. Lockers are situated in the reception area.

Transparent bags for carrying papers and pencils into the searchroom are available from the receptionist.

Cameras are allowed, but there is a charge - see the DIY photography section below.

Once you have shown your Archives Card, the receptionist will unlock the secure access door to let you into the searchroom. Staff will check for the return of documents you have been using before you leave the room. This ensures the documents in our care are safe and available for public use.

Please only use pencils and do not lean on any documents when in the searchroom to avoid damage to records.

Searchroom documents

Finding documents

Finding documents

Because the archives are kept in special strongrooms, you will need to consult our online catalogue or the indexes and catalogues in the searchroom. This will help you decide which records you would like to have brought out for you to see.

Many documents, particularly those used frequently for family history research, are only available on microfilm or microfiche. This saves wear and tear on the original documents, and also allows access to microfilmed documents held elsewhere.

We are unable to produce original documents (including maps) from the strongrooms between 12.15pm and 1.30pm. Documents are also not produced after 4.15pm on weekdays and 4.00pm on Saturdays.

Copies of documents

Copies of documents and photos

We offer a wide range of copying facilities, from basic photocopying to high definition scanning. Reproductions of, or extracts from, documents or photos must not be published without permission of the County Archivist. You must also acknowledge the owner of the document/photo and the Record Office.

DIY photography

DIY photography

Arrangements can be made by prior appointment to bring in your own digital camera. We charge £12.00 per day and a 'DIY photography request form' (with copyright declaration) must also be completed before you start taking photographs - forms will be available in the Searchroom when you arrive.

Please note that some collections are subject to restrictions on digital photography. For some, notably the Petworth House Archives and Goodwood Archives, prior permission from the owner is required.

Please contact us before your visit for advice.

Supporting documents

Contact details

  • Email record.office@westsussex.gov.uk
  • Tel: 01243 753602
  • Address

    3 Orchard Street, Chichester, PO19 1DD
  • Additional information

    Our address for correspondence is: County Archivist, West Sussex Record Office, County Hall, Chichester, PO19 1RN

Find us

By car

We are based in the heart of Chichester, very near to County Hall. The A27 trunk road runs through Chichester for links to Brighton and Portsmouth, while links to London are provided by the A23 and A24. Chichester is approached from the north via the A286 from Midhurst; and the A285 from Petworth.

By train

We are about a 10 minute walk from Chichester train station, which is served by a regular train service from London Victoria. There are also services from Brighton and Portsmouth.

By bus

The closest bus stops are at Orchard Street, West Street (Cathedral) and Avenue de Chartres.