“What information do you have about my parish?”
The policy in Southwark Diocese is that parishes look after their own parish archives within their parish. The Diocesan Archive aims to advise and support parishes in this by developing guidance on record keeping, answering questions, visiting and offering advice etc.
The Diocesan Archives does, however, have a large collection of records relating to parishes – on average, one large box file per parish. These are not the parish records themselves, rather the records of the interactions between the Archbishop and the parish. These boxes can be of great value to those researching the history of their parish or local community.
These boxes contain a great mixture of items. They were created originally as a working filing system and anything that was created or received at Archbishop’s House in relation to a parish could be filed in them. This system continues today and once the material in the working filing system reaches ten years old it is evaluated to see if it has any long-term value. If it has, it is passed to the archive to be added to the parish file.
The main group records that can be found in parishes files are:
1. Visitation forms and pastoral statistics
2. Correspondence on many issues
3. Parish histories
Other records that can be found include wills, photographs, maps, plans, legal agreements, financial accounts, information on parish priests, information about the church e.g. which relic is in the alter etc.
To find out what records exist for
your parish, please contact the archive. You are welcome to visit to view the
parish records though please be aware that any sensitive material or material
subject to data protection restrictions will not be made available.
While the parish records are kept together by parish, there is no listing or catalogue of the contents of the boxes. Over the next few years, we hope to be able to catalogue these files in greater detail and to ensure that they are housed in archival packaging so that they can be preserved for the long-term.