Not far from Kew in southwest London is the government’s repository for its historic records, where people spend hours studying old documents for interesting nuggets that you may later read in a book, or a website article.

(c) National Archives

If you’ve seen TV documentaries in which a presenter is taken into an archive and shown a document pulled out of the long racks of boxes, you might be a tad disappointed to learn that this is just for TV and is not how researchers usually read the documents.

What really happens is that the documents are taken upstairs to a reading room, which is where researchers actually do their work – not in the warehouse filled with rows of boxes.

However, the National Archives has recently started running tours of the archive storage itself — so a rare chance to see this usually hidden space.

The tours run monthly on a Thursday afternoon and cost £12 per person.

You can book tickets here.

If you’ve not visited before, the National Archives is about a 10-minute walk from Kew Gardens station on the Richmond branch of the District and London Overground lines.


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