Stories from the Parish Registers: Black residents of West Sussex

By Alice Millard, Research Assistant As part of West Sussex Record Office's Transatlantic Ties project, and ongoing work surrounding intersectionality in the archive, a survey of the county's parish registers for individuals of African, Asian, and Caribbean heritage is underway. London Metropolitan Archives undertook a similar project which began in 2000, the results of which…

West Sussex Unwrapped II: Month 5 – South Downs National Park

Oh! the Downs high to the cool sky;And the feel of the sun-warmed moss;And each Cardoon, like a full moon,Fairy-spun of the thistle floss;And the beech grove, and a wood-dove,And the trail where the shepherds pass;And the lark’s song, and the wind-song,And the scent of the parching grass! By John Galsworthy Linseed mowing at Strood,…

The (futile) war on smuggling: Accounts from the archives

By Alice Millard, Research Assistant. In the archive, there is a report from 1806 (Add Mss 2610) which its author endorsed as "a most stupid, bombast report drawn by me for Captn. Lepper touching Smuggling." It's author, Job Gipps, was the Commander of the "Hawk" Revenue Cutter moored at Littlehampton. Gipps spent his days patrolling…

West Sussex Unwrapped: Festive edition!

Welcome back to a special festive edition of West Sussex Unwrapped! Watch Screen Archive South East's wonderful film footage featuring the Williams family of East Grinstead on Christmas Day, 1967-1970. Then discover more about West Sussex Christmases gone by through a multitude of festive records from the archives. Christmas on Film Family Christmas in East…

Thanksgiving: A Transatlantic Ties update

By Jo McConville, Transatlantic Ties project archivist. You can read more on the TT project here. For a long time, I didn’t really ‘get’ Thanksgiving. Perhaps not so surprising, given that it’s such a distinctively American holiday which doesn’t register on our British calendars. My main exposure to it came during my 1990s Friends obsession,…

West Sussex Unwrapped Week 9: The Railways

Britain's pioneering work on establishing the railway network has long been a source of national pride. Rail travel has impacted many different aspects of West Sussex life; from transporting post and essential goods across the South Downs, to popularising seaside holidays, the county has a deep and rich connection to the railways. Railways on film…

Welcome back! A ‘new normal’ for the Searchroom

Welcome back! As we begin to open the archive again we wanted to introduce you, our users, to our new searchroom procedures. You are still able to consult original documents in the reading area, search through microfilm and fiche, check maps, and use online resources such as Ancestry and Find My Past. However, we're opening…

West Sussex Unwrapped Week 6: Rural traditions

Peek into the history of West Sussex's traditions, some you may know and some you may not. A few are shared with other counties but others are unique to West Sussex. Traditions have, by their nature, changed with time and many are no longer practised. If you've experienced a 'West Sussex tradition' let us know…

West Sussex Unwrapped Week 4: Lifeboats

Map of Sussex, and it's extensive coastline, by James Wyld, c1860, PM 124 The coast of West Sussex is beautiful, but also deadly. The sea, with its unpredictable swells and lack of shelter from squally storms, has claimed many lives and countless vessels. Although the United Kingdom is an island with a deep connection with…

West Sussex Unwrapped Week 2: Nursing

Arguably, the profession of nursing offered the same essential experience for every nurse. Yet, it was the experiences born from a specific place and time which gave each nurse their own unique story, and West Sussex has been home to a number of historically significant institutions. From the medieval hospitality of St Mary's Hospital in…