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

The Record Office searchroom is where you can access the documents in our archives and conduct your research.

Contact details

  • Email record.office@westsussex.gov.uk
  • Tel: 01243 753602
  • Fax: 01243 533959
  • 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.


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

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

There is no booking system for reserving tables, public access computers or readers, so please help yourself to an available seat.

Entry to the searchroom

Before entering the searchroom you will be asked to sign the visitors' book.

All bags, briefcases and mobile phones must be stored in a personal locker, situated in the reception area on payment of a £1.00 returnable deposit.

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

Cameras are allowed in if booked in advance with a chargeable fee. Please see the DIY photography section below.

The receptionist will activate the security lock on the access door to let you into the searchroom. Similarly, you will not be able to leave the searchroom before the staff have been able to check that any documents which you have been using have been returned. This helps to ensure the safety of the documents in our care and their availability for public consultation.

Once in the searchroom, please use pencils only, and avoid leaning on any documents to avoid damaging them.

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 to 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

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 Reproductions of, or extracts from, documents must not be published without permission of the County Archivist.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

DIY photography

DIY photography

Arrangements can be made by prior appointment to bring in your own digital camera. We charge £11.00 per day and a 'DIY photography request form' (with copyright declaration) must also be completed.

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.

You may, if you wish, purchase six one-day permits in advance for £55.00 (thereby saving £11.00). Any unused permits expire after six months.

Supporting documents