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Parish Records

The Diocesan Record Office is at:
Surrey History Centre, 130 Goldsworth Road, Woking GU21 1ND.
Tel: 01483 518737

Since 1952, the deposit of non-current parish records for safekeeping has been encouraged by successive Bishops of this diocese for two reasons:

  • For physical preservation from the increasing risks of vandalism, theft and fire, and the more insidious danger of damp in unventilated safes; in a record office, books and papers can be kept in fireproof ventilated strongrooms
  • For security of consultation. Strict supervision of the increasing number of people who consult records for historical and genealogical purposes is essential. A record office can relieve the Incumbent and parish officers of this burden. There is no transfer of ownership. Records so deposited can be taken back, e.g. for an exhibition, or for legal purposes

The Parochial Registers and Records Measure 1978 has, among other provisions, made the following requirements obligatory throughout England and Wales:

  • In every diocese, the Bishop must designate a Diocesan Record Office and appoint a competent inspector
  • A first inspection and listing was to be made of all records (irrespective of age) remaining in parish custody, and of the conditions in which they were stored. After this initial inspection and listing of all records, further regular quinquennial inspections of all records remaining in the parish were to follow
  • All records more than 100 years old must be deposited in the Diocesan Record Office unless the permission is obtained for their retention. This permission will be given only if a ventilated steel cabinet, made to certain specifications, is provided, and the temperature and relative humidity are regularly monitored.
  • Records less than 100 years old may either be deposited in the Diocesan Record Office or retained at the Church. If retained, the conditions are less stringent than those above, but the records must be kept in a safe or steel cupboard in a suitable location

Surrey History Centre, the headquarters of Surrey Heritage, which is the appointed diocesan record office for the diocese of Guildford and much of the diocese of Southwark under the Parochial Registers and Records Measure, holds historic baptism, marriage and burial rgisters from the parishes within the dioceses. Over many decades, Surrey County Council, through the History Centre, has provided archive quality storage for these and other parish records, which have been cared for by its team of prefessional archivists and conservators and made freely available to researchers in their public reading room. In order to broaden public access further to these important records, Surrey Heritage, with the consent of the Bishop, has now entered into partnership with Ancestry, the online family history operation. Ancestry has mounted digital photgraphs of the registers on its website and these images are accessible via online indexes by subscribers.

Free access to the existing microform copies of the registers (and if necessary to the original volumes themselves) at Surrey History Centre will continue to be provided, and visitors to the History Centre will have free access to the Ancestry website, as will all members of the Surrey library network at any library branch. The History Centre receives a small royalty payment on all image downloads over the 10 year period of the agreement, which will be reinvested in preservation and cataloguing operations and in activities to promote the archives in its care.

Under the Measure, the Archivist-in-Charge is empowered to issue certificates of baptism, marriage and burial from Registers deposited with the Record Offices. Cheques for the appropriate fee should be made out to Surrey County Council. In the case of registers, this means books in which the last entry is more than 100 years old.

If any parish has completed registers in its custody which have not thus far been deposited and which fall within the scope of the project, Surrey History Centre will be delighted to take them in on deposit under the Parochial Registers and Records Measure, which will enable them to be included. Please contact the Centre on 01483 518737 or email


The online family history operation, where you can also access digital photographs of historical parish registers
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Surrey History Centre

Surrey History Centre holds historic baptism, marriage and burial registers from the parishes within Guildford Diocese....
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SAFEGUARDING The Diocese does not tolerate abuse of any kind. Enquiries
YOUR DATA PRIVACY View the diocesan general privacy notice and data protection policy.