Visit the Searchroom

Access our collections in person in our public Searchroom.



Please check our opening hours before setting out. You are very welcome to e-mail or call us for advice ahead of time. You can also use Essex Archives Online to identify records of interest in advance of your visit.

From Monday 25th September, works to replace the Bailey bridge located near to our entrance will be taking place. The Bailey bridge linking us to Baddow Road car park will be closed with a signed diversion in place for pedestrians and cyclists. There will be diversions in place for footpaths and the main access route for the Essex Record Office during the work will be from Wharf Road. The nearest public car park to us during the works will be the Meadows Retail Car Park which can be accessed from the High Bridge Road and Springfield Road roundabout. For more details about the work taking place click here.


Reader's tickets

You need a reader’s ticket to access the Searchroom. There are two types of ticket, both of which are free.

The Archives Card, which can be applied for online on the Archives Card website, is necessary to make the fullest use of our resources, because it allows you to order original documents from storage.

If you already have a valid Archives Card from another record office, please bring this with you and we will be able to add it to our system.

If you do not already have an Archives Card, please apply for one online before your visit. When you arrive at the Essex Record Office, we will need to see the forms of identification requested for the Archives Card before your new card is issued to you.

Alternatively, you can get a Day Ticket which lasts one day and allows you to use the resources on open access, such as the ERO library, Ordnance Survey maps, or the computers.


Using the Searchroom

We hold unique, irreplaceable historic material, so we need to take precautions to make sure this material is safe:

  • Please bring as little as possible into the Searchroom
  • You must store your bags in the locker room (next to the Searchroom)
  • Please use a pencil rather than a pen
  • You can use laptops and tablets, but cases must be left in the locker room
  • We provide transparent wallets for holding notes and small items (we reserve the right to search any folders when you leave)
  • There are various ways of making copies of documents, depending on what you want to use the copies for and the size and condition of a document
  • The Searchroom temperature is kept at about 22 degrees Celsius to help preserve the documents; searchers are advised to bring a warm layer to wear

You can use the Searchroom computers to consult a range of resources, such as Essex Archives Online, Ancestry, Find My Past and British Newspapers Online to which we subscribe. Staff can help you access and use these sites.

If you order original documents, they will usually take 15-20 minutes to arrive. For security, the documents will be weighed before being handed to you, and weighed again when you return them. You will be asked to hand in your reader’s ticket when the documents are issued and it will be kept at the counter as long as you have documents at your desk.

You will need to show your ticket to the Searchroom receptionist before leaving. This shows that any documents which may have been issued to you for study have been safely returned before you leave. If you want to take a break from your research, and have not finished using the document issued to you, return it to the counter and ask for it to be kept out for a short time, until you return. This also applies if you plan to come back to the Record Office on the following day.

Please be aware that document ordering closes 45 minutes before the advertised closing time of the Searchroom.


Reference library

The Searchroom contains an extensive reference library of local history publications and books. You can search for items of interest on Essex Archives Online.



There is a refreshment area on the ground floor where you can take a break at any time during your visit. There are several cafés and restaurants within easy walking distance.

You might be interested in...

Essex Archives Online

Check our holdings before you visit

right arrow