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

London Metropolitan Archives

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i. Overview

London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) is the main archival depository of the Greater London area. It was established in 1997, having previously been called the Greater London Record Office and History Library (GLRO), itself formed through an amalgamation of the London County Record Office, the London County Council Members Library and the Middlesex County Record Office in 1965. LMA has since merged with the former Corporation of London Record Office (CLRO). It is an invaluable resource for researchers interested in their parish history. It holds records of over 800 Anglican Churches in the London and Middlesex areas. The LMA, together with Guildhall Library, is also the depository for certain papers of the Diocese of London. At present, there is unfortunately no individual research guide for studying parish or diocesan history provided by the archive.


ii. Contact Details  

London Metropolitan Archives
40 Northampton Road





Open: Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9.30am - 4.45pm, Tuesday and Thursday 9.30am - 7.30pm. Check website for Saturday openings. Closed all bank holidays and Sundays.

London Met Archives map
Map from


iii. Access

The LMA is open to members of the public. To use their collections, you are encouraged to register for a ‘History Card’. The process should take no longer than five minutes. To do so, you need to fill in a registration form. This can be done at LMA on one of their computers or at home up to 30 days before your visit. Registration is then completed by the librarian when you visit. You will need to bring in two documents proving your identity and address (see their website for up-to-date details). The librarian will then issue you with a card which expires after 3 years. The ‘History card’ can be used for printing both at the computers and microfilm machines and to access material in the archive section. You do not need a ‘History Card’ if you only intend to use the information section.

History Card

Many resources are microfilmed. The catalogue listings will always say when a document is on microfilm. All microfilm references begin with an 'X'. Microfilm and microfiche are on open access to the reader. More recently, the LMA had started a process of digitisation. They are currently digitising a number of popular resources such as parish records, Poor Law documents, and school admission records up to 1911. You will be able to consult this material free of charge either from the computer terminals in the LMA or at home via Researchers are also able to consult the Censuses for period 1841-1901 in the LMA.

Hard copy material has to be ordered from the stores. You will need to fill in a Request Slip. Information needed on this slip can be found on their online catalogue, which you can consult at home or in the archive. Once you have filled in the Request Slip, you take it to the Information Desk, where it will be collected. Check the electronic notice board to see when your material has arrived. Once it has arrived, you need to go up to the reading room counter and give the librarian your name. They will then give you the material you ordered.

LMA allows users to bring their own cameras to take pictures of documents. You can apply for a self-service photography permit which is valid for one day. A charge of £2.45 is payable per day for the permit, which allows the use of digital and traditional cameras. A downloadable form can be found on their website. If you have any questions, laminated cards can be found around the reading room. Otherwise, the librarians are always happy to help.

iv. Catalogue

The LMA catalogue is now available online. When searching for parish churches, you should always use the word ‘saint’ rather than its abbreviation ‘St’.  Please be aware that there are plans to provide personal log-ins for users. Your ‘History Card’ will provide you with your log-in. For information on how you can obtain your ‘History Card’ consult the ‘Access’ section above. The new system will allow you to order items online and will provide enhanced research features. Information on their collections can also be found on ‘Access to Archives’ ( You should always email the librarians in advance to see if they have parish records, as not all collections have been catalogued. If they have not been catalogued you may be able to consult material with the librarian’s permission. 

v. Further Information on Collections


Diocese of London

Diocesan material is divided between LMA and Guildhall Library. The LMA has records concerning the Consistory Court of London and the Archdeaconry Court of Middlesex. These records include probate material up to 1858, Tithe maps, Bishops Transcripts and Matrimonial and Testamentary Cause Papers.

LMA is also the repository for the Diocese of Winchester, the Diocese of Guildford and the south east London part of the Diocese of Rochester.  

Parish Material  

LMA is also the archival custodian of over 800 Anglican Churches in the London and Middlesex area. This collection continues to expand as local churches deposit their records. Researchers, however, should be aware that collections vary depending on the church in question. The LMA parish records are divided into sixteen classifications. These include parish registers, church services and the work of the clergy, church personnel, parish boundaries and benefices, church buildings, churchyards, parish administrations, parish finance, charities, schools, parish societies and clubs and their civic functions including their roles as constables, overseers of the poor, surveyors of the highway and other official roles, and any printed material such as parish magazines, personal reminiscences and newspaper cuttings. 

There is no definitive list of parish material. You should check the LMA catalogue to see if they have been despotised. If the catalogue brings up no results make sure firstly that you have written the name out in full, including writing ‘St.’ as ‘Saint’ and secondly, email the librarians to see if your parish records are awaiting cataloguing. If they have not been catalogued you may be able to consult material with the librarian’s permission. If the LMA does not have them then you should check that they are not a city parish and therefore held instead at Guildhall Library, or still stored by the individual parish church.  

vi. Other Collections of Use

a) Printed Books

The LMA library started as the library of the former members of the London County council. It contains over 100,000 volumes and specialises in all aspects of London life, the growth and development of the area, its history and organisation of Local Government. The library is reference only.

b) Visual Material

The LMA has an extensive collection of visual material. This includes almost half a million photographs together with a large collection of prints and drawings. This material is primarily concerned with the history and topography of London. Much of this material concentrates on inner London, whilst most of the prints and drawings are from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. These collections are arranged into two sections. The first section is arranged alphabetically by subject, which includes subjects such as churches and schools. The second section is arranged by modern London borough and then alphabetically by address. Information can also be found on ‘photoLondon’, a gateway to London’s public photographical collections. Their web address is

c) Maps

The LMA has an extensive collection of maps numbering 15,000, including the Tithe Maps. A card catalogue can be found in the reference room which combines information on the various collections of maps. The twenty most popular maps are available in the reference room. These include the first edition of the ordnance survey maps of 1867-1870. Others have to be ordered from the information desk.  

The LMA are currently in the process of digitising their most popular maps. The following maps are already available from the Information Area of the LMA:

  • School Board for London Maps
  • Parish Maps of London
  • City of London Ward Maps
  • Various Historical Maps of London including maps from Stanford's, J Cross, Reynolds and Langley & Belch
  • LCC Bomb Damage Maps 1939-1945

These can be found on the LMA catalogue under the section ‘Magnifying the Metropolis’. All of these maps have interactive controls which allow you to zoom in. 

d) Non-established religions

Records on the following organisations can be found at the LMA archives:

  • Non-Conformist records relating to the Congregations, Baptists, United Reformed and Methodist churches, circuits and missions. This material is predominately from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. They also hold baptism, marriage and burial records for individual nonconformist churches together with the records of several non-conformist organisations including the London Congregational Union and the New Bunhill Fields Burial Ground.  
  • Marriage registers have also been deposited by the Salvation Army.


e) Jewish Originations

The LMA holds records for a number of Anglo-Jewish communities, including the papers of the Chief Rabbi, the Board of Deputies of British Jews (a society founded in 1760 to represent Sephardi (Spanish and Portuguese) and Ashenazi (Central and Eastern European) Jewish communities in London), and Jewish Free Schools. 

London Metropolitan Archives Self Service Photography at LMA [PDF]


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