Visiting the Royal Archives

This introductory information is to help visitors to prepare for research at the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle.

Security and Access

The Royal Archives are within the private apartments at Windsor Castle, so access is only possible with security clearance.

Once the dates for your fellowship are confirmed with the Royal Archives, you will be sent an automated email invitation form. You should complete the form as soon as possible, which will initiate the security checking process. This usually takes 2-3 days.

Upon clearance by the Security Liaison team, you will be given an escorted visitor’s pass. Wearing this will admit you to the Castle precincts. You will also be admitted to other areas of the Castle, including the Royal Archives, when escorted by a member of staff.

Researching among the Georgian Papers at the Royal Archives

You will have to sign the Royal Archives’ reader’s agreement in order to carry out research in the Royal Archives. This covers a number of standard issues, which will probably be familiar from other archives. We would like to draw your attention to three particular items here:

  • Because of Castle security, the use of cameras is not permitted. However, we can provide digital imaging for your research by request.
  • Because of the ongoing cataloguing of the archival material, we will be glad to review citations to any material from the Royal Archives before publication.
  • We ask that you share any social media posts or other publication information with the Georgian Papers Programme before publication.

The Georgian Papers are in the process of being catalogued, and large sections have never been researched; it is one of the central aims of the Georgian Papers Programme to transform the accessibility and discoverability of these papers. The finding aids are therefore currently limited. They consist of:

  • Knowledge accumulated by the staff;
  • A card index of writers and addressees, to which you will have free access;
  • An Excel spreadsheet compiled during the scoping for the digitisation programme, a copy of which should be provided for you to consult.

You are advised that searching for likely correspondents may be one of the more advantageous ways of finding material relevant to your research topic.

Other Collections at Windsor Castle

In addition to the Royal Archives two other major collections of Georgian material are housed at the Castle.

  • The current Royal Library was founded by William IV and has its origins in the private libraries of George III. It thus contains books from that period, as well as rare incunabula collected by the Hanoverian kings, and a substantial number of manuscript items. Further information about the Royal Library’s holdings and history can be found here: https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/about/books-and-manuscripts. Furthermore, you should be provided with an Excel spreadsheet which lists Royal Library material identified by the curators as within the scope of the Georgian Papers Programme.
  • One of the world’s major collections of prints and drawings is also based at Windsor Castle. George III and George IV were both significant collectors, and the holdings are particularly strong in Old Master drawings acquired by George III; military drawings collected by George IV; portrait prints (particularly royal portraits, including some unique impressions); the works of William Hogarth and Thomas Rowlandson; work by royal artists including George III and his family; architectural drawings, mainly of the royal residences; and a unique collection of military maps and plans formed by William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland and George III. The military maps are currently the subject of a major cataloguing project, which will shortly appear online. A brief overview and history of the collection can be found at https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/about/drawings-and-watercolours.

Both collections can be explored through the Royal Collection’s online catalogue, which covers all the Library items from this period and the majority of the Print Room collection. See https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection.

Please contact Oliver Walton if you would like to research any of the material in the Royal Library or Print Room, so that the necessary arrangements can be made. This will not require any further security clearance.

Fellows’ Contribution to the Georgian Papers Programme

Beyond publishing work based upon your research in the Royal Archives, we would like to invite you to contribute to the Georgian Papers Programme in three particular ways:

  • We will ask you to share with the Royal Archives information about the materials you are consulting in order to help with the long-term project of cataloguing;
  • We will also ask you for suggestions which may help improve access and discoverability of the papers once online.

Working in the Royal Archives

You may find the following information on practical matters helpful:

  • The Royal Archives are open to researchers Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm.
  • The Archives are located in the Round Tower in the centre of the Castle. Please advise us in advance if you have any mobility difficulties.
  • Electrical sockets are available to facilitate the use of a laptop. Wireless access to the internet is available.
  • There is a common room where you can have refreshments.
  • You may wish to bring lunch with you: there are currently no food outlets in the Castle, and it is a surprisingly long walk down from the Round Tower and into the town.

Accommodation

The Royal Archives has to remain impartial and therefore cannot recommend any particular accommodation for Fellows. However, you may find the following useful:

  • The website for the town’s Tourist Information Office is: http://www.windsor.gov.uk/
  • Some previous Fellows have told us that they found suitable accommodation through Airbnb.

Further enquiries can be addressed to: georgianpapers@royalcollection.org.uk

February 2017.

For more information on the regulations relating to research conducted at the Royal Archives, please read this document: Regulations for Researchers