Diocese of Westminster








Abingdon Road
W8 6AF


0207 938 3580






Head of repository

Fr Nicholas Schofield, Diocesan Archivist


Institutional context

Westminster Diocesan Archives acts as both the repository for the departments and central services of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster and the default repository for the history of the Catholic Church in England and  Wales.

The papers in the historic collection chiefly comprise correspondence of the Roman agents; papers relating to Synods; copies of Pastorals; correspondence of the Vicars Apostolic with clergy from the Western, Midland and Northern Districts and Scotland, 1501-1847; correspondence with Irish Bishops; correspondence with institutions of the English Catholic diaspora; correspondence with Bishops and clergy abroad, notably with the Catholic Church in the British colonies; legal papers including wills, bequests, leases and trusts and papers of institutions of the English Catholic diaspora including Douai College, 1652-1789; St Omers College, 1762-1772; the English College Rome, 1701-1783; the English College Lisbon, 1708-1791; the English Seminary Paris (also known as St Gregory's, Paris), 1762-1777; Papers of St Gregory's, Paris, (the Paris Seminary), 1701-1782 ; student register for the English College Lisbon, 1628-1715; Private correspondence and diaries, 1598-1847 and Supplementary historical papers, 1293-1889.

Westminster Diocesan Archives collects the papers of the Archbishops of Westminster: Nicholas Wiseman, 1850-1865; Henry Edward Manning, 1865-1892; Herbert Alfred Vaughan, 1892-1903; Francis Alphonsus Bourne, 1903-1935; Arthur Hinsley, 1935-1943; Bernard William Griffin, 1943-1956; William Godfrey, 1956-1962; John Carmel Heenan, 1963-1975; George Basil Hume, 1976-1999.

Westminster Diocesan Archives also acts as the repository for the various departments and central services of the Diocese of Westminster. The majority of the material relating to diocesan departments held here refers to finance, property and education.

Sacramental registers from some parishes, embassy chapels and early missions are held by Westminster Diocesan Archives. A full list is available on request.

Westminster Diocesan Archives accepts the deposits as gifts of some lay organisations in accordance with the terms of our collecting policy. Major deposits include the records of St Edmund’s College, Ware and the Old Brotherhood of the Secular Clergy.

Institutional history

Westminster Diocesan Archives is a department of the Archdiocese of Westminster. It has been recognized as the private repository of the Archbishops of Westminster since the time of Archbishop Manning. Originally, the archivists were priests of the London Oratory but are now usually priests of the Diocese. The Archives was originally held at Archbishops’ House in Victoria but moved to Abingdon Road in Kensington during the 1980s. Since 2005, professionally qualified project and administrative archivists have been appointed to assist the Diocesan Archivist.

Administrative structure

Westminster Diocesan Archives is the private repository of the Archbishop of Westminster and a department of the Diocese of Westminster. It is funded entirely by the diocese.

Collecting policy

The full collecting policy of Westminster Diocesan Archives is available upon request. 


Westminster Diocesan Archives is housed in the parish complex at Our Lady of Victories, Kensington, London. This contains a reading room, storeroom, office and domestic facilities. There is no public wireless available.

Archival and other holdings

Westminster Diocesan Archives holds the official records of the Diocese of Westminster, the papers of the Archbishops of Westminster and records relating to the Catholic Church in England and Wales before 1850.

Finding aids and publications

Finding aids to the Archbishops’ Papers and Historic Collection are not available online. Please contact us if you would like further information about these collections.


Opening times

The archive is open to researchers by appointment only on Monday and Wednesday afternoons 12-5. However, a member of staff is present from Monday to Wednesday 9:30- 5:30 to answer phone and email enquiries.

The archive is closed over the Christmas and New Year period. Other religious holidays may be observed. Please check before planning a visit.

Conditions and requirements

All readers are required to register on their first visit to the archive. This involves completing a short form and providing proof of name with signature and proof of address. More details are available here:


In some circumstances, we may ask for a letter of introduction but we will let you know if this is necessary when an appointment is made. Failure to provide appropriate identification or to abide by the reading room rules may result in access to the archive being denied.

Access to archives less than 30 years old or containing personal information is restricted.

Disabled access

There are 3 steps down into the reading room of Westminster Diocesan Archives.


Westminster Diocesan Archives is situated within easy walking distance of High Street Kensington (Circle and District Lines) and Earls Court (Piccadilly and District Lines) underground stations, and Kensington Olympia (London Overground) station. The bus stop ‘Philimore Gardens’ is close by and is served by bus numbers 9, 10, 27, 28, 49, 328. A further bus stop on Kensington Church Street is served by bus numbers 52, 70, 452.

There is no parking available at Westminster Diocesan Archives but a large NCP carpark is located underneath Kensington Town Hall.


Research services

A paid research service is available on request at a charge of £10 per half hour. A maximum of two hours research will be carried out for any one request.

Specific entries (year and month if possible) in sacramental registers may be looked up free of charge although we reserve the right to ask for payment if this involves carrying out a large number of searches.

The paid research service may occasionally be suspended during very busy periods.

Reproduction services

Photocopies or digital images of documents can be ordered as long as it is possible to do so without damaging the document. A full list of fees is available on request.

Readers may take their own digital photographs for a fee of £4 per day.

Public facilities

Unfortunately Westminster Diocesan Archives is unable to offer any refreshment facilities. However, it is very close to the shops and amenities of High Street Kensington and Holland Park.


Date of creation

Last updated 16 May 2016