Building on Church History: The Church in London
The Diocese of London Lambeth Palace Library King's College London The Open University

What can I find in my local archives?

Print version [PDF 42KB]


A local archive may be known variously as a local studies centre, local history centre, or as local library and archives centre. They are especially useful in helping you to build up a picture of a particular area that you are studying. This might be a parish, or a specific local area or borough. They contain an array of material about the local area and community you are interested in. As well as holding books on local history, local archives contain a variety of invaluable primary source material, such as:

  • parish records (vestry minutes)
  • maps (tithe maps, Booth poverty maps, parish maps, ordnance survey maps) 
  • records of local societies and charities (secular and religious)
  • local newspapers
  • census returns
  • visual material (photographs and drawings)
  • oral testimony
  • diaries and journals of local individuals
  • local government papers
  • records of local businesses
  • legal records.

Not all of these materials will be available at all local archives, so it is always best to plan your visit in advance. Have a look on the archive’s website to establish what material it houses that you would like to consult. Information on collections is usually available either in downloadable word documents or electronic catalogues. Details of local archive collections can also be found on national database websites such as ‘National Archives’ and ‘Access to Archives’. Please note, however, that not everything held by local archives will have been catalogued. This might mean that during your visit additional materials emerge. Ask the librarian if there is any other material that they would recommend for your research. They will be able to give you advice about un-catalogued holdings.
Local archives are increasingly putting resource guides and other materials online. For instance,  Tower Hamlets Local Library webpage  has a ‘Digital Picture Gallery’,   ‘Online exhibitions’ and a selection of ‘digitised documents’. You should look through these resources as your first port of call, but do not rely on them as a substitute for actually visiting the archive. When you visit, you will find that your local archive will have an array of published material that you might find useful. This includes books and journals on local history, published autobiographies or biographies, trade directories and contemporary writings. These will either be on open shelves that you will be able to peruse at your leisure, or the librarian will be able to get them for you on request.    

How do I to find my local archive?

Many local archives are attached to libraries. Details can be found in Foster and Shepherd’s British archives: a guide to archive resources in the United Kingdom [available in the Lambeth Palace Library reading room]. Alternatively, those with access to the internet will find details on ARCHON and the National Register of Archives.

There are sixteen local archives in the diocese of London:

You will need to find out which local archive is relevant to your area of research. London’s internal boundaries shifted throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Information about boundaries can be found on your local council websites, by visiting ARCHON or on the AIM25 website (for archives in London and the M25 area). ARCHON can also be used by those outside of London.

Local Archive Contact Details

These details were correct at the time of publication. We recommend that you check your local archive’s website for more up-to-date information. 

Barnett Archives and Local Studies Centre
80 Daws Lane
Mill Hill
Web address:
Telephone Number: 020 8359 3960
Email address:
Opening hours: Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 9.30-4.30; Thursday 1.00-7.00; Saturday (1st and 3rd of each month) 9.30-4.30. You will need to book an appointment to visit this library.

Brent Archive
Brent Archives
Willesden Green Library Centre
95 High Road
Willesden Green
NW10 2SF 
Web address:
Telephone: 020 8937 3541
Opening hours: Monday closed; Tuesday 9am-5pm, Wednesday 9am-5pm; Thursday  1pm-8pm; Friday closed; Saturday 9am-5pm; Sunday closed

Camden Local Studies and Archives
Local Studies and Archives Manager
Holborn Library
32-38 Theobalds Road 
Web address:
Telephone: 020 7974 6342
Email: You will need to use the general enquiry form which can be found on their website.
Opening hours: Monday and Thursday 10.00-19.00; Tuesday, Friday 10.00-18.00; Saturday 10.00-13.00, 14.00-17.00. Wed closed. Appointments are needed to view some of the collections.

Chiswick Local Studies and archives
Dukes Avenue
W4 2AB
Telephone: 0208 994 1008
Email Address:

Ealing Local History Centre
103 Ealing Broadway Centre,
The Broadway,
W5 5JY
Web address:
Telephone: 020 8825 8194
Contact: Dr Jonathan Oates, borough archivist and local history librarian
Open hours: Monday 9am-5pm appointments only please call in advance, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday 9am-5pm, Wednesday and Thursday 9am-7.45pm. Closed 1pm-2pm Mon-Sat.  

First Floor,
Thomas Hardy House,
39 London Road,

Web address:
Telephone: 020 8379 2724
Opening hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 9.30-4.30. Appointments are recommended, particularly for those intending to use the microfilm readers. Accommodation in the search room is limited.

Hackney Archives (formerly Rose Lipman Library)
Hackney Archives
43 De Beauvoir Road
N1 5SQ
Web address:
Telephone: 020 7241 2886
Opening Hours: Tuesday 9.30am-1pm and 2pm-8pm; Wednesdays, Thursdays: 9.30am-1pm and 2pm-5.30pm; Fridays: 9.30am-1.00. You do not need to make an appointment, although it is recommend that you contact us before your visit to check that we have the sources relevant to your research.

Hammersmith and Fulham Archives and Local History Centre
Ground Floor
The Lilla Huset
191 Talgarth Road
W6 8BJ 
Web address:
Telephone: 020 8741 5159
Opening hours: Monday: 9.30am-4.30pm;Tuesday: 9.30am-7.45pm; Thursday: 9.30am-4.30pm; Friday and Wednesday: Closed; Saturday: 9.30am-4.30pm (second and fourth Saturday in the month, except Bank Holiday weekends). You are advised to make an appointment. 

Haringey Archives and Local History
Bruce Castle Museum
Lordship Lane
London N17 8NU 
Web address:
Telephone 020 8808 8772
Opening hours: Wednesday and Saturday from 1pm - 5pm; Thursday and Friday 9.30am – 5pm.

Harrow Civic Centre Reference Library
P.O. Box 4, Civic Centre,
Station Road, Harrow,
Middlesex HA1 2UU
Web address:
Telephone (enquiries): 020 8424 1055 or 020 8424 1056
Opening hours: Monday-Thursday 9.30-8.00; Friday 9.30-5.30; Saturday 9.30-5.00; Closed Sunday.

Hillingdon Local Studies, Archives and Museums Service
Central Library,
14-15 High Street

Web address:
Telephone number: 01895 250702
Opening hours: Monday 9.30 am – 8.00 pm; Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday : 1.00 pm – 5.30 pm; Friday: 10.00 am – 12.30 pm & 1.30 pm – 5.30 pm; Saturday: 9.30 am – 12 noon & 1.00 pm – 4.00pm. The main collection is based in the Local Studies Room on Level 3 at the Central Library, Uxbridge. It advisable that you ring before you visit the archive as some material may be available at branch libraries.

Hounslow Archive
Hounslow Library
Treaty Centre
Telephone: 0845 456 2800 (ask for Local Studies)
Web address:

Kensington and Chelsea Local Studies and Archive
Phillimore Walk
W8 7RX
Web site:
Telephone: 020 7361 3010
Opening hours: Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 1.30-6.00 pm; Wednesday, Friday, Saturday 1.00-5.00 pm. You are advised to make an appointment before visiting the archives. 

Tower Hamletts Local History & Archives Library
277 Bancroft Road
E1 4DQ
Web address:
Telephone number: 020 7364 1290
Opening hours: Tuesday and Thursday 9am–8pm; Friday 9am–6pm; Saturday 9am–5pm

City of Westminster Archives Centre
10 St Ann's Street,
Telephone: (020) 7641 5180
Email: Contact form can be found on their website
Web address:
Opening hours: Monday and Sunday Closed; Tuesday-Thursday 10.00am-7.00pm; Friday-Saturday 10.00am-7.00pm. You do not need an appointment but you might like to telephone ahead in case there is any change in the opening hours, or to check that they have the material you wish to consult. 


background image