The Keep is the new historical resource centre for East Sussex and Brighton & Hove which is currently under construction in Falmer, East Sussex.
The construction seems to be progressing at a rapid pace and you can see the latest status of the development on a dedicated photostream on flickr.
Admitedly it doesn’t look much like a record office at the moment, that is not surprising as there is still another year to go before it opens for business, but it is great to see progress being made.
I like that the building work is being recorded (and being made available) so that we can watch this building site transform into an archive before our eyes.
Plans for The Keep moved another step forward with the submission of a planning application to Brighton & Hove City Council in October 2010.
The Keep is destined to be the new home for the collections of the East Sussex Record Office and the Brighton History Centre among others, and if all goes according to plan (and funding is forthcoming) it should be opened to the public in 2013.
The hope is that a decision will be reached by the 14th January 2011 and all the documentation about the application can be found on the Brighton & Hove City Council website in their planning register (application number BH2010/03259).
The application itself is described as being for the “Construction of an archive centre comprising lecture and educational facilities, reading room, conservation laboratories, archivist study areas, offices, cleaning and repair facilities for archives, repository block and refreshment area. Associated energy centre, car, coach and cycle parking, waste and recycling storage, landscaping including public open space and access.”
Delving into the documentation provides some interesting reading. The first document on the list is the application form and this includes opening hours which it gives as 9am to 5pm Monday to Saturday, with two evenings during the week and one Sunday a month. I fully expect these to change by the time it opens, but being able to visit on a Sunday would be a great advantage for me.
There is still much consultation and discussion to be done, but at least the plans have moved another step closer to completion.
Today I made an impromptu visit to the West Sussex Record Office. I had nothing else planned for today, the weather forecast was not too good so I had decided not to go walking, so last night I printed off my to-do list ready for a visit.
My to-do list has been growing rapidly as I go through my digital files, and although I hadn’t planned on doing any more research until I had got most of my digital files sorted out, I felt it would be beneficial to get to an archive and do a bit of proper research, if not for my research then at least for my sanity.
The record office closes for lunch on a Saturday, so it split the day quite nicely. In the morning I worked on parish registers and in the afternoon I worked on wills.
The morning went quite well. I was able to pick up several baptisms and burials that I was after from Slaugham, Sussex (mainly GASSONs) and several others dotted around the county that I needed, including the baptism of my mother, but curiously not those of her younger brothers.
The afternoon wasn’t too bad, but I continue to be disappointed by the number of my ancestors that didn’t leave wills. I did however have some luck with my direct PIERCY ancestors. I found wills for both George PIERCY (my 6x great-grandfather) and Thomas PIERCY (my 7x great-grandfather).
Although I wasn’t really prepared for a visit, with my growing to-do list it wasn’t likely that I would come away empty handed, but I was pleasantly surprised at how successful my visit was.
The bad news is that Carlisle Record Office will be closing on the 29th April 2010. The good news is that it will be re-opening in January 2011 (if all goes according to plan) in a new building.
When I read the news I was a bit annoyed, not by the closure, these things happen and it is surely for the best in the long run.
No, I was annoyed at myself. I have been saying for months that I was going to go to the Carlisle Record Office and pursue my KINGHORN ancestors. Now I have just under four weeks to make it happen or I will have to wait until next year.
So, I have to make a very quick decision and if I decide to go I will need to do a lot of preparation and research. I am not even sure what I expect to find there. I don’t even believe that Thomas KINGHORN came from Carlisle (I think he was originally from London, but that is another story) and I am not even sure that he spent much time in Carlisle.
There are a few parish register entries that I need to check, but that could be done at one of the other libraries that will be providing access to some of the resources. What I am really interested in is finding records of taxes and rates, that might tell me when Thomas was actually in Carlisle.
So as hard as it may be for me, I am going to have to make a decision, either to visit Carlisle or to put this particular part of my research on hold for the rest of the year.
After all that planning last week, today’s trip to Hampshire Record Office was a great success, with the added bonus that I was able to tick off another archive from the list of places to visit! Seriously though, it is always good to get acquainted with a new record office, to see how their systems work, to see what finding aids and indexes they have available.
The Hampshire Record Office is ideally located for arriving by train, step outside the railway station and there across the other side of the street it is. It is a nice modern building with all the facilities one would expect from a purpose built archive and lots of natural light (it did help that it was a beautiful sunny day outside once the mist cleared).
My research itself got off to a good start when I was shown a transcription of the Exton parish registers, this answered many of my questions in one stroke, although I did check the original registers on microfiche later on.
Also of great help were the Hampshire Genealogical Society (HGS) marriage and baptism indexes on CD-ROM. With these two resources I was able to pin-point the parents and siblings of William Henry MITCHELL and Harriet WRIGHT with reasonable confidence. Once again I check the actual registers on microfiche, and further work at home online with the census returns should help confirm the family relationships.
Only one baptism proved a problem to, that was for James MITCHELL the son of William Henry and Harriet MITCHELL. He wasn’t where I was expecting to find him, his baptism was too recent for the HGS baptism index and had previously been unable to find him on the IGI. I searched a couple of neighbouring parishes without much success, and as time was running out I thought I would try one more, and there he was, in the parish of Chilcomb. I was able to go home happy having found all the baptisms I was hoping to.
I had a quick look at the catalogues for school records, but there doesn’t appear to be any surviving records that covers the periods and parishes I need. Also I didn’t get chance to check for any poor records, but once I have digested today’s information I will be able to have a proper look at the catalogue online and see if there is anything more I need to check on my next visit, although it will probably be a good few months before I get back down to Winchester again.