Visit to the Archive Centre.

On 21 March, seventeen people who had attended the  Genealogy Workshops visited the Norfolk County Archive Centre at County Hall.

Kären, who was to be our guide, welcomed us and described the Archive Centre. She spoke about the work of the Search Room, the Store Room and the Conservation Studio.  We started in the Search Room where several members of the public were working – the extra large tables were for those who wished to examine one of the many maps held by the Archive Centre.

There was a series of files where searches for particular items could be made manually. Microfiche readers and computers were also available for use. Normally requested documents are produced within thirty minutes.

Kären stressed that nothing had been lost when the old Archive Centre in the Norwich City Library was destroyed by fire on 1st August 1994. Some items were damaged by water but after being freeze-dried all were eventually restored.

The Archive holds millions of documents filling nearly ten miles of shelves. We visited the Store Room and heard from Kären that, although they are not about to run out of space, they are looking to increase the total amount of shelf space to ensure that there will be sufficient room in the years to come.

We then visited the Conservation Studio where Nick explained the work which was done there. He showed us photographs of the Aylsham Town Charters which have been worked on for the past eighteen months after having been discovered in a Church before being moved to a Library. They had not been well stored so much work had to be done to unroll them and to make  as much of them as possible readable.

Kären had arranged for several documents to be available for us to see; these included a tithe map of Saxlingham, a marriage register from the Parish Church, several faculties for work in the Church and Peal (Bell-ringing) cards. There were  two letters from Lord Nelson – one written with his right hand and one written with his left hand. There was also a wonderful scrapbook of her activities made by Mrs. Zigomala; she discontinued the scrapbook after the death of her only child John at the end of the First World War in 1919 in Russia.

It was a fascinating afternoon and our thanks go to Elizabeth who organised the trip for us and to Kären and Nick who guided us round the Archive and explained so much to us.