Kent Record Office (Kent History and Library Centre) replaces the Centre for Kentish Studies, East Kent Archives, County Central and Maidstone (St Faiths Street) libraries.
The Office holds around 14 kilometres of documents relating to Kent dating back to 699 AD and makes these publicly accessible. The Archive does not, however, hold records for Medway, the Canterbury City Council area and the areas of Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, Lewisham and Woolwich, which are now part of Greater London.
These resources include census returns, electoral registers, manorial records, parish registers and quarter sessions records.
The resources cover a wide range of subjects, so whether you are tracing your family history, researching the history of a house, conducting research for a school, colelge or university assignment or studying the history of your local area, you will find them of use.
The knowledgeable and helpful staff are always on hand to help should you have any questions or require assistance.
For information about their holdings, please visit their collections page, which has details of documents held by the Archive. Collections include:
They also have local history collections, covering historic Kent, including Medway and the parishes which are now part of Greater London, which incorporate:
They also have an on-line catalogue which contains details of collections held by the Office referring to the history of places and people in the area. By using their online catalogue, you can order document(s) in advance of your visit, but you must provide them with the 'finding number of the material' and the date and time you wish to consult the document(s).
Their opening hours can be found by going to their library details page.
Buses 101, 150 and 155 stop near the building.
Parking is available for blue badge holders in front of the building. The car park situated on James Whatman Way has 27 spaces. If this car park is full, there are other car parks at Maidstone East railway station and Fremlin Walk's.
It is necessary to book a desk in their searchroom if you wish to look at original documents or some printed material. Microfilm readers must be booked in advance if you want to consult records using this medium.
You are able to use your own laptop in the Office, electrical sockets being provided.
You are permitted to bring a digital camera to Kent Record Office, but they stipulate the camera flash must be turned off when taking photographs of documents. A camera licence must be purchased when you arrive.
Not all documents can be copied because of data protection laws or because the document is fragile and easily damaged, so you should always inform the staff of your intent before proceeding.
The building is fully accessible, being wheelchair friendly. A lift is also provided.
A high resolution enlarger, capable of text or screen colour adjustment, is provided for reading original documents should you wish to use it.
They also have magnifying glasses and accessible computers.
An interpreter can be arranged if you give the Office adequate notice.
You are allowed to bring your own food, but it must not be taken into the searchroom.Many eating establishments are available in Maidstone, approximately 10 minutes/½ mile walk from the Office.
If you cannot visit in person, the Archive offers a research service.
Copies of documents can be sent to you if you are unable to visit the Centre. You should find the reference number(s) of the document(s) you wish to peruse, and then fill in their reprographics form. If you have any questions, it is best to contact them.
Any copies made by the Office are produced on the understanding that they will be used for personal research only.
Kent History and Library Centre has a Facebook page, where they provide details regarding Office collections, events and family history and local history related news. They also respond to visitors' queries.
The Archive is also on Twitter, @kentarchives, where they provide details of their events and describe some of their collections.
Kent Record Office is NOT a member of the CARN (County Archive Research Network), so you will need to register for a Kent Library card before you can access documents.
You have to fill in the online form, after which you will be able to order up to 3 items, and then pick up your card when you next visit. You will need to bring identification with you to facilitate this process.