About Southwark Archives

Southwark Archives tells the story of Southwark and the people who have lived, worked, and played here since Roman times.

We collect and organise archives and published reference material that explains them.

We also help people use our archives to learn more about the history of their families, neighbourhoods, and the wider world.

  • What is Southwark? Where is it?

    Southwark is a borough in London. It includes the neighbourhoods of Bankside, Bermondsey, the Borough, Camberwell, Dulwich, Peckham, Nunhead, Rotherhithe, Southwark, and Walworth. 

    A borough is the most local unit of government in London. There are 32 London boroughs and the City of London.

    Southwark is in southeast inner London, and it’s one of the biggest inner London boroughs. It runs along the south bank of the Thames - opposite the City of London - from the Oxo Tower to Deptford. Southwark is roughly triangular - narrower at the bottom. Its southernmost point is near Crystal Palace.

  • What are archives?

    Archives are records that are important enough to preserve into the future or forever.

    Records are documents that tell us about a person’s or an organisation’s actions, opinions, decisions, and/or beliefs.

    The information in archives is useful for people making decisions now, and for people studying the past.

  • Why are archives important?

    Archives tell the stories of people, places, actions, ideas, opinions, and things. They are modern witnesses to past events, the raw material of history. They can’t be replaced – when they are gone, the information in them is lost forever.

    Archives can help people make decisions now. For instance, knowing when a council-owned building was repaired can save money by making sure that work isn’t done twice.

    They also help people learn about the past. They show and tell us what happened and what life was like. Without them, there is no way to understand or judge explanations of past events or decision-making.

  • Who can use Southwark Archives? How much does it cost?

    Anyone can study our collections – but children should have an adult with them.

    Using our searchroom and receiving help and guidance from staff is free. We do charge for

    • copies and print-outs of material
    • a flat fee per day to take pictures for your own personal research
    • a fee for using collection items in a project in certain cases - please contact us if you want more information

    We can answer basic questions via post, phone, or email. We also offer a paid research service if you have more detailed questions. Please get in touch with us if you are interested.

Page last updated: 15 September 2023


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