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

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.

The railway arrived in Chichester in 1846 as a line from Shoreham and soon extended west to Portsmouth. Later lines were built to Midhurst and then to Selsey (the legendary Selsey Tramway), making it possible to travel north, south, east and west by train - which was only to last until 1935.

In this illustrated talk Alan Green explores 170 years of Chichester's railway history (69 of which he observed first hand!) from the opening day, through expansion, contraction and electrification to today's privatised railway.

Date: Tuesday 28 January 2020

Time: 7.00pm

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

Finding needles in haystacks: research in the Petworth House archives

Illustrated talk by Alison McCann, Archivist to Lord Egremont and the Leconfield Estate.

Date: Tuesday 25 February 2020

Time: 7.00pm

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

Chichester in colour, 1970

Illustrated talk by local historian Andrew Berriman.

Date: Tuesday 31 March 2020

Time: 7.00pm

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

‘SNAPS in Sussex’: The photographs of John Smith (1852-1925)

Illustrated talk by Nichola Court.

A Croydon builder by trade, John Smith was President of the South Norwood Amateur Photographic Society (SNAPS) and hosted fellow members at the family home in Fittleworth for its annual excursion to West Sussex, during the first years of the 20th century. This illustrated talk explores the rich archive of this accomplished and prolific amateur photographer, showcasing its social and historical content, as well as its many local views.

Date: Tuesday 28 April 2020

Time: 7.00pm

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


Coffee time workshops

Reading old handwriting

Date: Wednesday 6 November 2019

Time: 10.00am

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

How to start your family tree

If you're thinking about researching your family history but aren't sure where to start, this workshop will provide some helpful tips and advice, based on the resources available in the Record Office, local libraries and online.

Date: Wednesday 8 January 2020

Time: 10.00am

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

‘Granny was a pauper’: exploring poor law records

Date: Wednesday 5 February 2020

Time: 10.00am

Tickets: £7.50 (non-refundable) - 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 March 2020

Time: 10.00am

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

Reading old handwriting

Date: Wednesday 1 April 2020

Time: 10.00am

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

Researching the history of your house

Date: Wednesday 6 May 2020

Time: 10.00am

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

Newspapers for family and local history

Date: Wednesday 3 June 2020

Time: 10.00am

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

Tracing your army ancestors

Date: Wednesday 1 July 2020

Time: 10.00am

Tickets: £7.50 (non-refundable) - 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 2 September 2020

Time: 10.00am

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

Researching the history of your house

Date: Wednesday 7 October 2020

Time: 10.00am

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

Reading old handwriting

Date: Wednesday 4 November 2020

Time: 10.00am

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


Special events

Open Day

Are you interested in family, local or military history? If so, why not find out more about West Sussex Record Office in Orchard Street, Chichester?

We preserve and make publicly available the historic archives of the county from 780AD to the present day; and, on Saturday 23 November 2019, we will be holding an Open Day from 10.00am to 3.30pm (free entry).

Come along to meet the staff, find out what sources are available, see some fascinating original documents and have a look behind the scenes. You can also seek advice from members of the Sussex Family History Group and meet organisers of the West Sussex Archives Society.


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.