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Diocese of Westminster Archives






Westminster Diocesan Archives



GB 0122






16a Abingdon Road,

Kensington, London,

W8 6AF



+44 (0)207 938 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


We are open on Mondays and Tuesdays only 10am-12:30pm and 2pm-5pm by appointment only.  You may book a morning, afternoon or both sessions but be aware that you will need to leave the archive at lunchtime. Please contact us well in advance of your visit as our search room is very small and we are often fully booked.  We are closed during Holy Week, Christmas and other holy days

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: http://rcdowarchives.blogspot.com/p/visiting-us.html

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.



The nearest Underground and train stations are High Street Kensington and Kensington Olympia.  Earls Court is a ten-minute walk from the Archives.  Bus routes along Kensington High Street include Nos. 9, 10, 27, 28, 49 and 328




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


24 February 2017