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.

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…

‘A Fine Manuscript Journal’ – AM 70/1

By Abigail Hartley, Searchroom Archivist AM 70/1 - The first entry of 1870 AM 70/1 - Front cover of the diary Purchased for the record office in 2008, the diary of John Donald Warren covers 27 September 1869 to 3 June 1871. It’s a fantastic little diary which required some digging from staff in order…

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,…