Our Diocese

Diocese of Westminster

The Diocese of Westminster...

Diocesan Archives

Welcome to the Westminster Diocesan Archives. Based at Our Lady of Victories in Kensington, we welcome hundreds of researchers every year, including family historians, clergy, academics and students.

The Westminster Diocesan Archives hold a great deal of material relating to finance, property and education in the diocese as well as records created by parishes, including some baptism and marriage registers.

However, our collections contain much that goes well beyond Diocesan boundaries. The papers of the Archbishops of Westminster, from Wiseman to Hume, contain material concerning many national and international issues of the day, reflecting their roles as Cardinals and leaders of the English and Welsh bishops (most recently as Presidents of the Bishops' Conference).

We hold a significant collection of documents dating from the period before the Reformation, including reports of 15th century heresy trials from the Diocese of Norwich and a very early copy of the Charter of the Chapter of Wells Cathedral. However the bulk of the earlier papers date from the period between the accession of Elizabeth I (1558) and the Restoration of the Hierarchy in 1850.

The most important of these, covering the period from 1501 to 1798, are bound in a series of 50 volumes known as the A Series. These contain letters of Cardinal William Allen as well as the papers of the Vicars Apostolic of the London District, including Bonaventure Giffard (1703-34) and Richard Challoner (1758-81). In total, there are some 9,000 items relating to this period, making Westminster Diocesan Archives one of the richest sources for the Catholic history of the country in the early modern period. There are also papers relating to the Jacobites including letters written by 'Bonnie Prince Charlie'.

Our collections are also supplemented by various deposits of papers from Catholic institutions, organisations and societies. These include the 'Old Brotherhood' (originally the Chapter of Secular Clergy that governed the English Catholic Church between 1631 and 1685), St Edmund's College, Ware (a descendant of the English College in Douai), and more modern material such as the Catholic Evidence Guild, Catholic Association and Catholic Union. There is also a collection of rules, constitutions and papers from religious orders within the diocese.

The majority of these archives are catalogued although the format and level of detail of the finding aids varies. An online catalogue is available through Catholic Heritage, although this is not yet fully comprehensive as we are continuing to convert previously unpublished hard copy lists to the online catalogue.

For a full list of our catalogues, please click HERE.

For information on family history within the Diocese, please click HERE.

For information on parish history, please click HERE.

For information on conditions of access and reprographics, please click HERE.

CONTACT US

The archives address is:

Westminster Diocesan Archives
16a Abingdon Road
Kensington
London
W8 6AF

Telephone: +44 (0)207 938 3580

E-mail: archivist@rcdow.org.uk

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OPENING HOURS

We are open on Mondays and Tuesdays only 10am-12:30pm and 2pm-5pm by appointment only. You may book a morning, afternoon or both sessions but be aware that you will need to leave the archive at lunchtime. Please contact us well in advance of your visit as our search room is very small and we are often fully booked. We are closed during Holy Week, Christmas and other holy days.

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VISITING US

We are located just off Kensington High Street in Abingdon Road, behind Our Lady of Victories, Kensington. Go through the archway next to 16 Abingdon Road and ring the bell to the left of the white garage door.

Parking

No parking facilities are available for researchers but there is a large public car park a short walk away underneath Kensington Town Hall.

Public transport

The nearest Underground and train stations are High Street Kensington and Kensington Olympia. Earls Court is a ten minute walk from the Archives. Bus routes along Kensington High Street include Nos. 9, 10, 27, 28, 49 and 328.