Visit the Searchroom

Access our collections in person in our public Searchroom.


Please check our opening hours before setting out. You don't have to book your visit, but 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.

If you would like to know more about the available resources, we provide guided tours of the Searchroom, which need to be booked in advance; you can find details on our events page.


Reader's tickets

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

An Essex Record Office Reader's Ticket or a County Archive Research Network (CARN) ticket 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 CARN ticket from another county 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 Essex Record Office Reader's Ticket or  a CARN ticket, one will be issued in the Searchroom, free of charge, if you bring some identification showing your address and signature (a driving licence is ideal).

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. Your name will appear on a display screen when the documents are ready for collection. 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. Drinks and snacks are available from a vending machine, or you may bring your own refreshments. There are several cafés and restaurants within easy walking distance.

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Check our holdings before you visit

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