Archive photograph of male and female cyclists in Hyde Park with spectators lining the route.
Hyde Park, London. Cycling as a spectator sport. Photographed between 1870 and 1900 by York & Son. © Historic England Archive CC97/01240.
Hyde Park, London. Cycling as a spectator sport. Photographed between 1870 and 1900 by York & Son. © Historic England Archive CC97/01240.

Visit the Archive and Library

We are open for 2 days per week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) with 4 places available each day, with slots available from 9:30am-12:30pm and 1:30pm-4:30pm.

You can book a maximum of four visits in a rolling four-week period.

We will keep this limit and all of our arrangements under regular review.

What can I see?

Most archive will be available to view including the most popular collections

  • air photographs
  • buildings files
  • estate's sale particulars
  • Country Life prints
  • RCHME Inventory notes

Access to the Library shelving will not be available but books can be requested to view in advance.

Some archive material will not be available including plans, negatives, fragile or large items.  We will inform you in advance if a significant part of your request is unavailable. We cannot guarantee that all research material will be available for your visit.

A limit will be placed on the volume of archive retrieved for each visit.

  • Air photographs: 100 vertical photographs of one site
  • Architectural collections: 15 items

Other collections may have limits placed on them.

Public Search Room

Some services will not be available, including:

🚫 photocopier 

🚫 microfiche reader

You will still be able to use your own camera to take photographs for your own personal use subject to copyright.

The search room computers will still be available for use to view digital images, our websites, the internet and Library catalogue.

If you would like to use one of our stereoscopes, please note this when making your booking.

Handheld magnifying glasses will be available.


All visitors must book their visit and order their documents or books at least 7 working days in advance of a visit. 

You can book a slot on the following days/times:

  • Tuesday AM: 9.30 – 12.30
  • Tuesday PM: 1.30 – 4.30
  • Thursday AM: 9.30 – 12.30
  • Thursday PM: 1.30 – 4.30

The Public Search Room will be closed between 12.30pm and 1.30pm.

How do I book?

Bookings can be made on Eventbrite.

Book your Archive visit now

Before booking please ensure you know which items you would like to see.  For air photographs you will need to commission a search carried out in advance.  If you are unsure whether you have the right information, please contact [email protected] first.

Please use the 'other information' box to let us know if you have any access requirements or are unable to wear a mask.

When you make a booking we will send you further information about what to expect when you visit.

Terms of booking

  • Booking is for the named person only on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • You will not be able to bring anyone with you, unless they are a carer.
  • Please be thoughtful and considerate of others when you book – we may cancel your booking if you exceed our reasonable limit of two bookings in 4 weeks.

What can I expect when I visit? 

We're doing all we can to help everyone feel safe when they're on site, but we need your help too. We ask that all visitors behave responsibly and respect the measures that we have put in place including:

  • Booking system to help us manage visitor numbers – all visits must be pre-booked without exception, and all documents ordered in advance
  • Floor markers and temporary signage to help with social distancing
  • You will be asked to use the hand sanitiser in the Reception area
  • You must wear a mask or face covering while in the building.
  • You will be asked to maintain a 2 metres safe distance at desks, and a 1 metre plus safety distance when moving around the Public Search Room.


We aim to make our facilities as accessible as possible for all our users.

There is limited free car parking for blue badge holders on site if you would like to book a car parking space please indicate this when booking.

The spaces are at the rear of our building. There is a path to the main entrance which is around 50 metres from the parking bays.

Our main entrance has permanent ramped access.  At the current time all visitors are required to use the intercom to contact Reception for access.

The Public Search Room and Library are on the ground floor and have touchpad operated doors.

There is an accessible toilet on the ground floor.

We have a hearing loop in Reception and at our Enquiry Desk and a portable hearing loop for use elsewhere in the building.

Assistance dogs are welcome.

Large print versions of information sheets are available on request.

If you have any specific access requirements, please contact us before your visit.

Face coverings and gloves

All visitors are required to wear face coverings during their visit.

If you have a legitimate reason not to wear a face covering, please indicate this when you book your visit – this will help our staff prepare for your arrival and ensure that your visit is not delayed. If you need to lipread, please advise our staff and they will remove their face covering at a safe distance.

Gloves must be worn when handling the archive, this is for the preservation of the archive.

Taking a break

Our café is currently closed and we are unable to offer space for visitors to eat or drink at the current time. We do not allow visitors to drink inside the Public Search Room and Library, however you may keep a drink in your allocated locker and leave the room to take refreshments.

The nearest shops are located in the Outlet village which is a 5 minute walk.

Our other services

We look forward to resuming our full public service in the future. While site access is limited and special limits are still in place, the status of our other public services is as follows:

Search services

We can offer our free searches for our air photograph collections, and limited archaeological information. 

We are unable to offer any search services which requires staff to view the archive or our priority search services.

We aim to reply within fifteen working days but when demand is high turnaround times may be longer for a search to be completed.

Copying service

We can offer high resolution digital images.

We are currently working through our backlog, contacting customers who placed orders during our closure. New orders will take approximately 10 weeks to complete. We are unable to offer our Express service, photocopies or low resolution services at this time.


We can licence images as normal unless access to the archive is required.


If you wish to view Library material please indicate this on the booking form. For more complex enquiries please then email [email protected] with specific details


Many of our collections can be viewed on-line:

Thank you for your continued support, we look forward to seeing you soon.

Archive Services

  • Address

    The Engine House,
    Fire Fly Avenue,
    SN2 2EH


  • Department

    Historic England
  • Address

    The Engine House,
    Fire Fly Avenue,
    SN2 2EH
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