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A post by Bavardess got me thinking that I ought to put these notes up somewhere where they can do most good. I prepared them at the request of some grad students in the USA a couple of years ago after I’d completed a three-month stint working on my thesis materials at The National Archives in Kew, UK. The staff there were extremely helpful, and the archive itself is reasonably conveniently located for emergency trips to buy batteries and tissues, and whatever else one may suddenly discover one needs, but it pays to learn from the mistakes advice of others.

Using The National Archives – A Survivor’s Tale

TNA’s website has comprehensive orientation notes which are very useful to consult before planning a visit.


The National Archives (TNA) is located near Kew Gardens Tube station, which is the second last stop on the Richmond arm of the District Line. It is about a 5 – 10 minute easy walk to the archives from the station. Exit the station to your left in the direction of travel if coming from the centre of London. (The station has both an underpass and an overpass if you find yourself on the wrong side.) Walk down W Park Rd and take the first left (Burlington Ave). At the end of Burlington Ave, cross Mortlake Rd (there is a controlled pedestrian crossing) and continue down Ruskin Ave. The main gate of TNA is at the end of Ruskin.

You can also reach TNA by bus from Richmond station, which is on the District Line as well as being a British Rail mainline station on the routes to Reading and Windsor (among others). The R68 bus from Hampton Court via Richmond terminates beside the strip mall adjacent to the car park entry for TNA on Bessant Dve. Board the R68 at Richmond by exiting the station, crossing the road and waiting at the bus stop immediately to the left of the pedestrian crossing. You must hail the bus or it will not stop. To return to Richmond, board the bus on Bessant Dve at the same stop where you disembarked.

I recommend obtaining an Oyster card (London public transport card) as soon as you arrive in the UK. Travelling on Oyster is considerably discounted compared with purchasing individual tickets. You can purchase an Oyster card at any station and some newsagents (which display signs to this effect in the window). The card costs a small amount to purchase, and then you charge it with any amount you choose. To use Oyster on trains, tap the card on the yellow disc by the entry point and walk through; do the same thing to exit the train station. On buses you only have to register your card upon boarding, as all bus trips are charged at a flat rate.

Comprehensive directions for coming to TNA by car, and alternate bus routes can be found at:

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I teach and research at the Centre for Medieval & Renaissance Studies in the School of Philosophical, Historial and International Studies, Monash University (Australia). Views expressed here are my own and not representative of the CMRS, SOPHIS or Monash.

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