West Sussex Record Office

What's on at the Record Office

3 Orchard Street, Chichester, PO19 1DD

Find out about events coming up at the Record Office.

Tell me more

We hold regular evening talks on Tuesdays and family history workshops on the first Wednesday of each month.


About our events

Talks on Tuesday

'Talks on Tuesday' cover a wide range of fascinating subjects presented by our experts. All talks start at 7.00pm and last 1 to 2 hours, including refreshments. Tickets cost £8.00 (non-refundable) for each talk and must be booked in advance from the Record Office.

See below for our current scheduled talks.

Coffee Time Workshops

Do you want to research your family tree but don’t know where to start? Would you like to research the history of your house or learn how to read old handwriting? If so, sign up for our coffee time workshops.

On the first Wednesday of each month, our special mid-morning sessions will give you the opportunity to learn from the experts in a relaxed atmosphere.

We will introduce you to the incredible range of archive material available at the Record Office - dating from 780 AD to the present day - and how best to use the sources for research.

At West Sussex Record Office you can be assured of a warm welcome from our friendly and knowledgeable staff. We hope you will join us, whether it's for one session or all of them!

See below for our current scheduled workshops.


Talks on Tuesday

D-Day 75: West Sussex

Marking the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy in 1944, retired County Archivist Alan Readman will bring this historic event to life through archive material held by West Sussex Record Office.

Date: Tuesday 28 May 2019

Time: 7.00pm

Tickets: £8.00 (non-refundable) - book in advance by contacting the Record Office.

Moon Mapper: Sir Patrick Moore and the Landings on the Moon

Sir Patrick Moore, who grew up in East Grinstead and spent much of his life at 'Farthings' in Selsey, was a much-loved astronomer, author and broadcaster.

He is best known for hosting the BBC's Sky at Night programme for more than 50 years until his death in 2012. In this anniversary year of the moon landings in 1969, Dr John Mason will explain how Patrick contributed to this historic event, arguably mankind's greatest achievement.

Visitors will also be able to view a small display, including digital copies of Sir Patrick's original observation notebooks, a book signed by Neil Armstrong and original newspapers from July 1969.

Dr John Mason MBE is one of the world's best-known astronomers, a former President of the British Astronomical Association and is Principal Lecturer at the South Downs Planetarium in Chichester. He was a friend of Sir Patrick for nearly 45 years and appeared many times with him on the BBC's Sky at Night programme.

Date: Tuesday 30 July 2019

Time: 7.00pm

Tickets: £8.00 (non-refundable) - book in advance by contacting the Record Office.

Some Transatlantic Ties: William Penn’s West Sussex Connections

Illustrated talk by Martin Hayes, County Local Studies Librarian.

William Penn is best known as the founder of Pennsylvania, among the most successful of all American colonies, and as a leader of the fledgling Society of Friends (Quakers) he was perhaps the only man in the 17th century to achieve as much in ‘Olde England’ as in New England.

As a precursor to the Record Office’s new project Transatlantic Ties, Martin will describe Penn’s significant links with West Sussex, his life-changing impact on many local people and his many achievements, but also setbacks.

The 2,600 known documents relating to Penn make him one of the best recorded individuals of his time and quotes from these will help understand every aspect of his life.

Martin Hayes has been County Local Studies Librarian for West Sussex Library Service since 1986 and is responsible for managing and developing local history collections in its 36 libraries. He was transferred to West Sussex Record Office in 2017 to work on merging the Libraries’ Local Studies Service with the Archives Service and build on this successful partnership to provide an integrated service for the County Council.

From 2002 to 2018 he managed or supervised 8 heritage projects which generated digitised material, much of it available online.

Date: Tuesday 24 September 2019

Time: 7.00pm

Tickets: £8.00 (non-refundable) - book in advance by contacting the Record Office.

Elizabethan Chichester

Illustrated talk by Dr Caroline Adams.

Elizabeth I visited Chichester in September 1591. This talk looks at the city she saw and what life was like for its Elizabethan residents. The talk covers buildings, trade, care for the poor and social life.

Dr Caroline Adams is an archivist and historian and worked as a Senior Archivist at West Sussex Record Office for many years. She is now a freelance researcher and also works as a part-time archivist at Arundel Castle. Her PhD was on the progress of Elizabeth I down through Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire in 1591 and on how the residents of the three counties viewed her, and how she saw them.

Date: Tuesday 29 October 2019

Time: 7.00pm

Tickets: £8.00 (non-refundable) - book in advance by contacting the Record Office.

'Lubrication in Moderation': On the trail of Ye Ancient Order of Frothblowers in West Sussex

Talk by Dr David Muggleton.

Ye Ancient Order of Froth Blowers (AOFB) was founded in 1924 as a way of raising funds for deprived and invalid children. Within four years an astounding £100,000 had been secured through membership subscriptions, branded merchandise and from fines levied at convivial meetings where beer was consumed in jovial accordance with the rites, rituals and regalia of a spoof Fraternity Organisation or Masonic Lodge. Yet just seven years later the order was wound up following the deaths of the two men - Mr Bert Temple and Sir Alfred Fripp - responsible for its inception.

This talk examines the presence of the AOFB in West Sussex, arguing that beer drinking during this period was a powerful beacon of national identity, evoking notions of British liberty and the rights of the middle-ranking freeborn Englishman.

Dr David Muggleton is Senior Lecturer in the Institute of Sport at the University of Chichester. His research interests lie in the social history of sport and leisure. He has authored a number of local history books on beer and public houses including Brewing in West Sussex, Chichester pubs and Bognor Regis pubs, all published by Amberley of Stroud. He is a member of the West Sussex Archives Society, the British Association for Local History and the British Guild of Beer Writers.

Date: Tuesday 26 November 2019

Time: 7.00pm

Tickets: £8.00 (non-refundable) - book in advance by contacting the Record Office.

By rail to Chichester 1846-2016

Talk by Alan Green, local historian and author.

Date: Tuesday 28 January 2020

Time: 7.00pm

Tickets: £8.00 (non-refundable) - book in advance by contacting the Record Office.


Coffee time workshops

Royal Navy records for family historians

Date: Wednesday 3 July 2019

Time: 10.00am

Tickets (non-refundable): £7.50 - book in advance by contacting the Record Office.

Getting started with Ancestry.co.uk

This workshop will incorporate a practical, hands-on computer session, giving you the chance to try out this popular website under our guidance.

Date: Wednesday 4 September 2019

Time: 10.00am

Tickets (non-refundable): £7.50 - book in advance by contacting the Record Office.

Crime and punishment in West Sussex

Whether you're looking for an ancestor who got into trouble with the law, joined the police or if you simply want to find out what records are available for research, this workshop will introduce you to some of the key sources at the Record Office.

The session will include:

  • records of West Sussex Constabulary and its predecessors
  • Petty Sessions (magistrates courts)
  • Quarter Sessions
  • prison records
  • local newspapers and more.

Date: Wednesday 2 October 2019

Time: 10.00am

Tickets (non-refundable): £7.50 - book in advance by contacting the Record Office.

Reading old handwriting

Date: Wednesday 6 November 2019

Time: 10.00am

Tickets (non-refundable): £7.50 - book in advance by contacting the Record Office.


Special events

Sussex Military Heritage

Exploring the Royal Sussex Regiment in the Archives 1701-1966

A joint one-day symposium focusing on the collections and research at The National Archives and West Sussex Record Office.

Organised by the West Sussex Archives Society (WSAS) and Friends of The National Archives (FTNA).

  • Members of WSAS, FTNA and FoTKA - £12
  • Non-members - £15
  • Tea/coffee included

Date: Monday 20 May 2019

Time: 10.30am-4.00pm

Tickets: Eventbrite


Record Office friends

A regular programme of events is also organised by the West Sussex Archives Society. For more information, visit their website.

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.