History of the Diocese of Brentwood

110 Pages of Colour and Black


Family History Fair in Basingstoke

Hampshire Genealogical Society Family History Open Day and Fair

on Sunday 8 October 2017, 10 am to 4 pm

at Everest Community Academy, Oxford Way, BASINGSTOKE RG24 9FP

free entry – free parking – light refreshments – disabled access

three free talks – numerous family history stalls and exhibitors

(the theme of the event will be World War Two – Britain at Home)


What happened to the United Kingdom Great War Service Records?

With the centenary of the Great War in full swing, interest from genealogists in the role played by their ancestors in the conflict has never been higher, and one of the questions I am frequently asked by people is whether I can help them find their ancestors military service record.

Sadly, the answer is often ‘no’, due to the fact that only a percentage of military files from this period are available, and the reason is quite complicated.

Historically, the British Civil Service was renowned for it’s record keeping; files were created and kept on every aspect of administration of the British Empire, and the military was no different, every soldier who served from around 1900, had a personnel file created about them. This file contained their attestation papers, medical reports and records, disciplinary records, conduct reports, as well as miscellanea of other items relevant to the soldier in question.

By 1914, the regular and reserve army in Britain numbered about three quarters of a million men, however by the end of the war, more than seven million were thought to have served.

Following the conclusion of the war, the records were retained in the War Office Records Store, located in Arnside Street, London. The building was however hit by a high explosive bomb in September 1940 during the London Blitz, and although the initial explosion did not destroy the records, the subsequent fire would do. About 60% of the service records were completely destroyed that day, those that remain fit into the following categories



One of the ‘Burnt Records’

 The Burnt Collection

About one third of the records were retrieved from the ruins, and put in storage, extensive work later took place to preserve and restore these remaining records, they are about 2 million in number, and are available on microfilm at the National Archives, or by subscription on Ancestry, originals are not permitted to be accessed due to their fragility.

The Un-burnt Collection

About 750,000 records escaped destruction being stored as they were in a different building.


Therefore unfortunately most people will find that they are unable to locate their family record of military service. If you can, you are lucky.

Records for personnel who served after the war and in WW2 are still restricted and will not be completely open access for many more years.

New CD of Baptisms

The Manchester and Lancashire Family History have released their latest CD of Catholic baptisms, this volume contains the following Manchester Catholic registers:

  • Corpus Christi, Miles Platting: 1890-1908
  • St. Edward, Rusholme: 1862-1908
  • St John, Chorlton-cum-Hardy: 1893-1931
  • St. Mary, Levenshulme: 1853-1920
  • St. Michael, Ancoats: 1877-1917

It is available for the very reasonable price of £4.25 from their Online Bookshop

Newspapers Online

Local newspapers are a valuable source for any family historian, but as any genealogist will   know, sitting at a microfilm reader scrolling through page after page of grainy images to search for relevant information is a long and arduous process.

The British Library have therefore been working for a couple of years on digitising their collections of local newspapers, undertaking OCR (character recognition) and releasing fully searchable copies on to a specially designed website

British Newspaper Archive

For a relatively small monthly subscription (£12.95), you get complete access to more than 700 titles, and nearly 18 million pages, this increases each week as more scanning is completed.

Through this project you can read how newspapers across the county reported on key events from the past 200 years, and can also track down ancestors (particularly if they have had a suitably notorious past to catch the attention of the press).


Catholic History Walks in London

Organised by Catholic History Walks, two Springtime riverside walks along the Thames will be organised in March, starting from the Church of the Most Precious Blood at London Bridge, which is in the care of the Ordinariate. The Walks are on Sunday afternoons, and all are welcome. There is no need to book – just […]

via Catholic History Walks, London, 2017 — English Catholic History Association

Digitising Newman

The project to digitise and catalogue onto an online hub the entire personal archive of Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman is now underway.

Every single letter and diary has been meticulously scanned at John Rylands’ Library, Manchester, and an internet kiosk has been designed by software company Crivella West Inc. of Pittsburgh.

The kiosk project is the first of its kind and when completed will provide complete online access to the Newman collection. It is hoped that it might lead the way to other projects particularly within the world of Catholic archives.

The projectimg_4441 is a collaborative effort between the National Institute of Newman Studies, attached to the Pittsburgh Oratory in America, and the Birmingham Oratory where the archives are held.

The Newman Institute is a purpose built residential research library and centre providing previously unprecedented
access to Newman’s life and works, the Institute also fosters the advancement of Newman scholarly research by inviting scholars to utilise the resources of the Newman Research Library in order to pursue academic work specifically related to Newman Studies, and in partnership with Duqesne University has set up scholarship programmes to this end.

To keep up to date with progress, follow the Newman Institute on Twitter @NewmanStudies

Or visit their website