National Archives (UK)

From Academic Kids

The National Archives is a British Governmental organisation created in April 2003. It claims to have 'one of the largest archival collections in the world, spanning 1000 years of British history, from the Domesday Book to government papers recently released to the public'.

It was created by the combining of the Public Record Office and the Historical Manuscripts Commission; for earlier history, see the article on the Public Record Office. It is institutional policy to include the definite article - with an initial capital letter - in its name (hence: The National Archives, abbreviated as TNA) but this practice is rarely followed by the media.

The main building of The National Archives is at Kew in west London, and the Family Records Centre is in Islington in central London. Both sites are open to the general public.

There is a separate National Archives of Scotland (formerly the Scottish Record Office), which holds government and private documents relating to Scotland. A similar institution in Northern Ireland is the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI).

The following material is held at Kew:

  • Documents from the bentral courts of law including the King's Bench, the Court of Common Pleas, the Central Criminal Court, Assizes, and Equity courts from the twelfth century onwards.
  • Medieval records of central and local government.
  • A large collection of maps, plans and architectural drawings.
  • Records for family historians including wills, naturalisation certificates and criminal records.
  • Service and operational records of the armed forces.
  • Foreign Office and Colonial Office correspondence and files.
  • Records of the modern central government departments.
  • Cabinet papers and Home Office records.
  • Statistics of the Board of Trade.
  • The National Register of Archives, which holds detailed catalogues of all kinds of records relating to British history held elsewhere.
  • The Manorial Documents Register, which notes the existence and location of manorial records in England and Wales.

There is also a museum, which displays key documents such as the Domesday Book and stages a programme of exhibitions.

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