Local History

Learn about Brighton & Hove's colourful history at our museums and The Keep archive.

Visit a museum

Discover Brighton & Hove's exotic history with a visit to one of our museums. 

Brighton Museum and Art Gallery is a modern museum that's full of surprises.

Step into a world of toys, cinema, local history and fine art at Hove Museum and Art Gallery.

Preston Manor is a house full of history.

The Booth Museum is all about birds, butterflies, fossils and bones.

The Royal Pavilion

Visit the spectacular seaside palace of the Prince Regent. This historic house mixes Regency grandeur with the visual style of India and China. It is a true icon of Brighton. 

Explore archives

The Keep is a world-class centre for archives. It represents the new generation of archive buildings in the UK.

It opens up access to the following collections:

  • the East Sussex Record Office (ESRO)
  • the Royal Pavilion & Museums Local History Collections
  • the internationally significant University of Sussex Special Collections

It is also a centre of excellence for conservation and preservation.

Find rare books and special collections at Jubilee and Hove libraries. If you are a library member, you can access many newspaper and magazine articles online.

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. 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 many important local organisations, businesses and individuals have arrived.

These include:

  • Hanningtons department store
  • Sussex County Cricket Club
  • the West Pier Trust
  • Middle Street Synagogue
  • Theatre Royal 

Work is on-going to find, conserve and make available these unique records as once destroyed, they can never be recovered.

East Sussex Record Office often relies on members of the public or council employees to preserve as much of the city’s history as possible.

Approximately 80 per cent of the holdings are on the Access to Archives website

You can access records for free. You should book a search room in advance as it can get very busy.

Not all records are held on site at the Record Office so you may need to pre-order some items. 

Find more information on local history

Visit these websites to explore the history of Brighton & Hove: