This introductory information is to help visitors to prepare for research at the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle.
How to get to Windsor
Windsor Central Railway Station serves the Paddington-Reading line; the Riverside Station the Waterloo-Staines line; both are near the Castle. Coaches also come to Windsor from London. There are several car parks in the town.
Booking your Research Visit
The Royal Archives is open to pre-booked researchers from 10am until 4pm almost every day. The Archives are closed for public holidays, the last Friday in every month, two weeks in February, Garter Day (a Monday in mid-June) and again between Christmas and New Year. As an official residence of The Queen the Castle may sometimes be closed for other reasons, such as royal weddings.
The Royal Archives has a dedicated research room for visiting scholars. Space is limited and demand can be high, so booking two to three months ahead is advisable, especially if you wish to come during more popular periods or if you have limited flexibility. The chart below shows how heavily the research room was in use throughout 2017, which may help your planning. (The chart shows 0% during periods of closure – these were more extensive in 2017 due to building works.)
Security and Access
The Royal Archives are held in the Round Tower in the centre of Windsor Castle. This is belongs to the Private Apartments, so access is only possible with security clearance. Photography is not permitted and you will need to be escorted within designated areas.
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 clearance process. This usually takes 2-3 days but can take longer.
Upon arrival at Windsor you should report to the Pass Office, located in St. Albans Street (opposite the Castle’s Henry VIII Gate) to collect your pass. Here you will be asked to present your identification documents (one photographic and one proof of home address; further details will be supplied upon security clearance). Failure to meet this requirement may result in entry being refused. (N.B. International photographic drivers’ licences are not accepted as identification.)
You should then go to the Henry VIII Gate and present your Day Pass to the Police Officer, who will direct you to the Side Door from where you will be admitted to the Round Tower.
The immediate environs of the Research Room, including the common room, have been designated as an Open Area in which researchers do not need to be escorted but are subject to CCTV monitoring. This will be clearly explained upon your arrival.
Please note that CCTV is in operation within the Round Tower. Images are being monitored for the purposes of law enforcement and public safety. For further information, see the Royal Collection Privacy Notice at the following link: https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/about/policies/privacy-and-security or contact the Librarian and Assistant Keeper of The Queen’s Archives, Windsor Castle, Windsor, SL4 1NJ.
The Royal Archives has to remain impartial and therefore cannot recommend any particular accommodation for Fellows. However, you may find the following useful:
- Windsor Tourist Information Centre can be reached here: windsor.gov.uk/accommodation or by telephone on 01753 743907.
- Some previous Fellows have told us that they found suitable accommodation through Airbnb.
Researching 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 photocopies and digital scans for your research on request. This may be subject to modest charges.
- 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 in advance of publication (see below).
The cataloguing of the Georgian Papers only began in 2016, 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 scoping for the digitisation programme, a copy of which will be provided for you to consult.
- The online catalogue, which will be updated periodically during the Programme: http://gpp.royalcollection.org.uk/.
You are advised that searching for likely correspondents may be one of the more advantageous ways of finding material relevant to your research topic.
Working in the Royal Archives
You may find the following information on practical matters helpful:
- The Royal Archives are open to researchers by appointment Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm.
- Documents can be requested at any time, and the best way is by emailing email@example.com. Documents requested by lunchtime can be provided for the next morning.
- 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 as 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.
- Please note that the formal dress code mentioned on the Day Pass Application as ‘standard’ is not a requirement of the Royal Archives.
Please note these key rules:
- Bags must not be taken into the research room, but should be deposited in the lockers provided.
- Mobile telephones are not permitted in the research room but can be left in the lockers.
- Staff reserve the right to search bags if deemed necessary.
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.
- The curatorial departments for the extensive and rich collections of paintings and decorative arts are not based at Windsor, but staff may be available for consultation should your research lead that way.
These collections can be explored through the Royal Collection’s online catalogue, which covers all the Library items from this period, as well as most of the rest of the Royal 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, Print Room, or other parts of the Royal Collection so that the necessary arrangements can be made. This will not require any further security clearance.
Fellows’ Contribution to the Georgian Papers Programme
Above all we hope that you will disseminate the results of your research in the Georgian Papers in publications, teaching, seminars and lectures. We would like to invite you to contribute to the Georgian Papers Programme in several other ways:
- One of our collaborators is a film company which is interested in making a documentary in relation about the Programme and may wish to contact you.
- 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 may also ask you for suggestions which may help improve access and discoverability of the papers once online.
- We also encourage you to highlight your fellowship through social media and public relations channels of your ‘home’ institution – please see below.
Use of Royal Archives’ material by researchers
The Rules for Researchers at the Royal Archives contain paragraphs about the need to obtain permission from the Assistant Keeper of the Queen’s Archives in order to use and publish information gained during research in the Royal Archives. These practices are meant to facilitate researchers’ use of the materials, not to restrict them.
Any proposed publications should be submitted to the Royal Archives to obtain permission. The Royal Archives will aim to respond to requests for publication within two weeks of receipt.
Responses will be framed by reference to the following:
- The academic aims of the Programme: The Queen has launched the Georgian Papers Programme to enhance access to the Georgian Papers, facilitate research and publication, and thus to improve wider and better understanding of these documents. The Assistant Keeper therefore wishes to encourage the use of original source material at the Royal Archives by Research Fellows, Visiting Professors and other researchers within the Georgian Papers Programme.
- The communications plans of the Programme: To ensure that publications help contribute to any Georgian Papers Programme communication plans. With current plans for a television documentary, publications for a public rather than academic audience intended to appear before the broadcast date may be offered to the production company. If the publication is relevant to the film-makers, the film-makers may ask you to postpone your publication and invite you to contribute to the documentary.
Please let us know if you wish to have use of any further images to enhance your publication, either from the Royal Archives or the Royal Collection.
Social Media and Press Releases
You are welcome to highlight your fellowship and any resulting insights on personally by social media or through the official communications channels of your home institution.
We are also able to offer support for you and your home institution in publicising your Georgian Papers Fellowship and work arising from it:
- We can supply suitable images, including Programme logos, specific documents and views of the building. You are reminded that photography is not permitted in the Royal Archives.
- We can liaise with your institution’s communications team to help achieve consistent messaging about the Programme.
- We will also be pleased to tweet, re-tweet or use other communications channels in support of any talks or publications, so please let us know of any relevant dates, hashtags and internet links.
You should reference the Georgian Papers Programme using this Twitter handle: @GeorgianPapers, and we encourage all those engaged in the Programme to use #GeorgianPapers. N.B. @RoyalArchives is dormant so please do not reference it!
- You may not take any photographs within the Round Tower. If you would like images, please ask the Royal Archives.
- You may not refer to security arrangements.
- Please let us know in advance if you wish to discuss any as yet unpublished documents, so that we can explore synergies with wider Programme communications plans.
Further enquiries can be addressed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Download a copy of the Royal Archives regulations for researchers here.