A Pugilist’s Paradise: Prize Fighting in 19th Century West Sussex

By Alice Millard, Research Assistant Puglism, n. The art, sport, or practice of fighting with fists; boxing. In the few years that I have been working at West Sussex Record Office, I have stumbled across several 19th century documents relating to pugilistic pursuits in the county. I had wrongly assumed prize fights were the domain…

MacDonald Gill: Charting a Life

By Caroline Walker, Guest Speaker This autumn the West Sussex Record Office is celebrating the life and work of Sussex-born artist MacDonald Gill. 'Max' - as he was known to friends and family - was an architect, mural painter, letterer, and graphic artist in the first half of the 20th Century, best known for his…

Two sepia photgrpahs side by side. They are of penguin colonies on an icy beach. White mountains are visible in the background.

It started with a Penguin…!

By Imogen Russell, Searchroom Supervisor Penguins and Glass EP I/98 Aldingbourne Faculty, 12th May 1954 A little curiosity we have in Aldingbourne Church is a stained glass window located in the Lady Chapel. This is not your typical stained glass window depicting saints, sinners and heroes, but something far more intriguing: a submarine and –…

Photographic Survey of West Sussex: Rediscovering an overlooked collection during the time of Covid

By Nick Corbo-Stewart, Volunteer Coordinator and Archivist Front cover of the EAHY photographic survey booklet The outbreak of Covid-19 and the introduction of lockdown in March 2020 saw a radical change to how staff at West Sussex Record Office (WSRO) worked. Normally based in the office full time, we moved to working from home. The…

“The best bunch of lads possible”: Anthony Antunovich and his war time photography

It is often the most unexpected searches that lead one down a rabbit hole. In my recent search for a suitable image for Canada Day (i.e. the anniversary of Canadian Confederation on the 1st July 1867) I came across and – in a phrase – fell in love with two photograph albums which had recently been catalogued under PH 29950 and 29951. The albums cover a short period in the life of a naval pilot during the Second World War through photographs of his friends, his training, and his travels.

A celebratory end to the Transatlantic Ties project!

After almost three years, our Transatlantic Ties project came to a joyful conclusion on Saturday 11th June with a symposium at the University of Chichester. With all the challenges of the last few years, we were delighted to be able to hold the event as originally intended, and the appearance of our often elusive British…

West Sussex Unwrapped III: Summer – Chichester Festival Theatre, 1959-1962

Chichester Festival Theatre, 1959-1962 Sixty years ago, in 1962, Chichester's brand new Festival Theatre opened. Looking rather like a mid-century spaceship, the theatre had come into existence so quickly it may have indeed appeared out of thin air. It was the brainchild of optician Leslie Evershed-Martin, who, in just two years, had planned, funded, built,…

Cropped image of the note written by the vicar about what happened to the register during the war.

Parish Registers of West Sussex: Finding the Rich and the Unknown

By Abigail Hartley, Searchroom Archivist On the 23rd of May, the county's baptism, burial and marriage registers were scanned and uploaded to the family history website, opening up many doors for local and family historians wanting to learn more about West Sussex. With baptisms from 1538 to 1920, burials from 1538 to 1995, and marriages…

National Volunteers Week 2022: Volunteers at West Sussex Record Office

By Nick Corbo-Stewart, Volunteer Coordinator and Archivist Volunteers working in the searchroom once more! In April 2022, after two years of having been kept away from the Record Office due to social distancing restrictions imposed by the pandemic, volunteers were allowed to return. Many of our volunteers have supported the Record Office throughout this difficult…

The Boy in the Painting: Marcus Thomas, b.1768-d.1816

By Alice Millard, Research Assistant Please note that some of the language used in the original records includes offensive and insensitive terminology. The inclusion of these terms is not an endorsement of such language, but are there to authentically represent the original document. In August 2021, I began trawling through the transcripts of baptisms, marriages…