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Parish records

Contacting the Records Office

The diocesan Record Office is at: 

Surrey History Centre 
130 Goldsworth Road, 
Woking GU21 1ND. 

Tel: 01483 518737 
Email: shs@surreycc.gov.uk
Website: surreycc.gov.uk/surreyhistoryservice

Legal requirements for parish records

In every diocese, the Bishop must designate a Diocesan Record Office and appoint a competent inspector.

  • When the Parochial Registers and Records Measure 1978 came into force, a first inspection and listing was to be made of all records (irrespective of age) remaining in parish custody, and of the conditions in which they were stored. After this initial inspection and listing of all records, further regular quinquennial inspections of all records remaining in the parish were to follow.
  • All records more than 100 years old must be deposited in the diocesan Record Office unless the permission is obtained for their retention. This permission will be given only if a ventilated steel cabinet, made to certain specifications, is provided, and the temperature and relative humidity are regularly monitored.Records less than 100 years old may either be deposited in the diocesan Record Office or retained at the Church. If retained, the conditions are less stringent than those above, but the records must be kept in a safe or steel cupboard in a suitable location.

How the Records Office can help you

Since 1952, the deposit of non-current parish records for safekeeping has been encouraged by successive Bishops of this diocese for two reasons:

  1. For physical preservation from the increasing risks of vandalism, theft and fire, and the more insidious danger of damp in unventilated safes. In a record office, books and papers can be kept in fireproof ventilated strongrooms.
  2. For security of consultation. Strict supervision of the increasing number of people who consult records for historical and genealogical purposes is essential. A record office can relieve the Incumbent and parish officers of this burden. There is no transfer of ownership. Records can be taken back by the parish, e.g. for an exhibition, or for legal purposes.

Do consider transferring your records to the Records Office  – contact us and we’d be happy to help and advise. 

Ancestry Partnership

Surrey History Centre, (the appointed diocesan Record Office), holds historic baptism, marriage and burial registers from parishes within the diocese. 

Over many decades, Surrey County Council, through the History Centre, has provided archive quality storage for these and other parish records, which have been cared for by its team of professional archivists and conservators and made freely available to researchers in their public reading room. 

In order to broaden public access further to these important records, Surrey Heritage, with the consent of the Bishop, has now entered into partnership with Ancestry, the online family history operation. Ancestry has mounted digital photographs of the registers on its website and these images are accessible via online indexes by subscribers.

Free access to the existing microform copies of the registers (and if necessary to the original volumes themselves) at Surrey History Centre will continue to be provided, and visitors to the History Centre will have free access to the Ancestry website, as will all members of the Surrey library network at any library branch. 

Is the History Centre paid for this service?
Can copies of baptism, marriage and burial certificates still be issued?
How can our parish be a part of this?
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