The Keep is a world-class centre for archives that opens up access to all the collections of the East Sussex Record Office (ESRO), the Royal Pavilion & Museums Local History Collections and the internationally significant University of Sussex Special Collections. It is also a centre of excellence for conservation and preservation and represents the new generation of archive buildings in the UK. 

Rare books and special collections are held by our library service at Jubilee and Hove Libraries. There are also many newspaper and magazine archives available online to library members and at Jubilee and Hove Libraries.

East Sussex Record Office looked after the archival heritage of Brighton & Hove for over fifty years.  The Record Office holds over a mile of records about the area and you can use these to research the history of your family, your locality and the house you live in. The records include:

  • local government records dating from the Brighton Improvement Commissioners in 1773 to the records of Hove and Brighton Borough Councils
  • maps from the 18th and the 20th century
  • parish records and the records of non-conformist churches
  • census records
  • plans of houses and public buildings
  • deeds
  • wills
  • records of hospitals, schools, businesses, organisations and individuals

Over the past few years the records of a number of important local organisations, businesses and individuals such as Hanningtons department store, Sussex County Cricket Club, the West Pier Trust, Middle Street Synagogue and the Theatre Royal have been taken in.

Work is on-going to find, conserve and make available these unique records as, once destroyed, they can never be recovered.  Their rescue often relies on the vigilance of members of the public or council employees in order to preserve as much of the City’s history as possible.

Approximately 80 per cent of our holdings are indexed on the Access to Archives website.  Access to records in our search room is free but we always advise people to contact us in advance of a visit to book a seat as we can get very busy.  Also, due to the constant expansion of our holdings not all of our records are held on-site at the Record Office and consequently some items need to be pre-ordered.