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…

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.

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…

West Sussex Unwrapped III: Spring – Wishing You Were Here at Worthing!

“A small agricultural and fishing hamlet of lesser importance than the neighbouring village of Broadwater” is how Worthing was best described pre-1800, or at least, according to the Victoria County History. No church, no market, and with land split across several different manors and lords, Worthing sometimes does not even feature on the County’s oldest…

Cropped statistics for Chichester, St. Pancras parish

Chasing the Boxalls through the Census

By Abigail Hartley, Searchroom Archivist The easy answer to 'When was the first census held?' in the British Isles can be as simple an answer as 1801. Or 1841. Or 1086. Or Roman times if you really want to stretch the purpose and definition of a census. So, let's define a census. For our purposes,…

A West Sussex Winter Wonderland

By Jennifer Mason, Assistant County Archivist (Collections Management) It’s definitely feeling wintry in West Sussex as we head towards Christmas. Today’s blog looks back at past West Sussex winters and celebrates a variety of cold weather activities. View of snow on the Downs at Fittleworth, 1947 (John Smith PH 13/156) We’ve had quite a mild…

Once Upon A Time… a 75th anniversary retrospective of the places we have called ‘home’

By Nichola Court, Archivist 2021 marks the 75th anniversary of West Sussex Record Office [WSRO]. Although we now occupy purpose-built premises in Orchard Street, Chichester, the Record Office has had a number of other homes – not all of which have been very glamorous! Read on to discover more about our former homes… Door plaque…

Stories from the Surgeon’s Table

By Jennifer Mason, Assistant County Archivist (Collections Management) Acc 14373 - Guinea Pig Club Christmas Magazine, 1948: Drinks with McIndoe! ‘The entrance fee is something most men would not care to pay and the conditions of membership are arduous in the extreme’ These words from renowned plastic surgeon Sir Archibald McIndoe describe the famous Guinea…

West Sussex Unwrapped II: Month 6 – Ancient Fairs

What separates a fair from a market? The two terms can be used interchangeably. For the purposes of this blog, markets are a monthly, weekly, or in some larger cities a daily event, dealing in fresh produce from the local area. On the other hand, fairs are traditionally cyclical and annual and tended to target…