Discovering county’s great estates

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RESIDENTS have the chance to find out about the county’s great estates, from manorial accounts to servant’s photographs, at the County Record Office Coffee Time Session on Wednesday June 1.

The Record Office, in Orchard Street, Chichester, holds the sessions on the first Wednesday of every month, from 10am - 12pm, for people wanting to learn more about family history from experts, in a relaxed atmosphere over a cup of tea or coffee.

Sessions so far have included learning how to read old handwriting and introducing computer sources for family historians. Future sessions include reading old school records and general advice for beginners.

West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for the Record Office, Deborah Urquhart, said: “Many West Sussex residents will have ancestors who lived or worked for one of the great estates in the county, such as Petworth, Goodwood or Cowdray.

“The estate records held at the Record Office may be a treasure trove of information on someone’s family history.”

There are records on servants who worked in the big houses, including wage books, which show how much they earned and how long they worked for.

There is also information on some of the major landlords, such as their accounts and bills from local and London shopkeepers, lists of charities they supported, and information on their tenants and workers.

Deborah said: “The records of the great estates are well kept and have a good survival rate, especially when the estate has been in the same family for centuries.

“The Record Office has a host of experts who will be on hand to help anyone with their research, giving advice and tips.”

Tickets are £7.50 and need to be booked in advance. Call the Record Office on 01243 753602 or email, records.office@westsussex.gov.uk