HAMPSHIRE Record Office celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, having officially opened on October 20, 1947 in the former premises of a bank at 82 High Street, Winchester.

During its lifetime the record office has undergone many changes, relocating to the basement of the county council’s Castle Avenue offices in 1959, then to St Thomas’s church in 1972 and finally, to our purpose-built premises on Sussex Street in 1993.

Throughout all of these changes Hampshire Record Office has continued to pursue its primary mission of collecting, preserving and making accessible the rich and intriguing heritage of Hampshire. Free access onsite is provided to eight miles of archives covering 1,000 years of history, which provide a wonderful resource for discovering Hampshire’s past. The records are stored in climate-controlled strongrooms and a conservator works to ensure the preservation and safekeeping of these records for future use.

From a rare tenth century Anglo-Saxon charter up to modern-day digital archives, our collections are varied and fascinating. Letters by Florence Nightingale and Jane Austen can be found alongside war diary entries from the Western Front recording the Christmas Truce of 1914. Significant collections include the Winchester Bishopric collection, Winchester Cathedral archives, and estate records and personal papers of various landed families, including the Jervoise family of Herriard, and the Herbert family of Highclere, Earls of Carnarvon.

Business records include those of the Automobile Association and Portals of Laverstoke and Overton, papermakers. Wessex Film and Sound Archive, based at the record office, brings history to life with some 38,000 visual and audio recordings from late Victorian times to the present day.

There is a wide range of documents that are useful for family and local historians. Poor law records, wills, parish records, wages books, title deeds, maps, photographs and other documents help to piece the past together and throw light on the lives of Hampshire ancestors. Collections from local organisations, such as the Hampshire and General Friendly Society and numerous football and cricket clubs, provide insights into the everyday lives of ordinary people living in Hampshire, while documents from individuals and families, ranging from scrapbooks to photograph albums, add to the level of detail of Hampshire life in the past.

To celebrate our 70th anniversary we are holding a special free open day event on September 9 as part of Heritage Open Days. A showcase of some of the unique documents mentioned above will be available to view from 10am to 4pm.

Displays will take you through Hampshire’s past from medieval Winchester to Henry VIII and the Tudors; from Regency England to the men who served on the Western Front. Two special behind the scenes tours are planned at 11am and 3pm and a children’s treasure trail will be available. Gabrielle Storey will be presenting a talk on ‘Morally Insane, Inverted, Born this Way: Medical Treatments for Lesbianism in Britain, 1830-1950’ from midday to 1pm.

l Advance booking is required for the behind the scenes tours, by emailing enquiries.archives@hants.gov.uk.