Stories Unboxed: A One Document Display

Our records come in all different shapes and sizes, but we love them all the same. We know there’s a story in every box that’s just waiting to be told.  It doesn’t matter if they’re 1,000 years old or 20 years old, each offers a glimpse into the past.

Stories Unboxed is a new display that takes a single document and explores its story. Let our specialists highlight topical finds and lesser-known treasures whilst you immerse yourself in moments of the past.

See it for yourself:

  • In person on the first floor of our building in Kew during opening hours
  • With a ten-minute talk from one of our collection specialists on the second Tuesday of every month, 12 noon, on the first floor
  • Online, through a variety of articles right here on this page.


Currently on display

Find out more about our current Stories Unboxed:

Photo of a foreboding ruined abbey.

What links Dracula and Tess of the d’Urbervilles?

The answer is hidden in our collection of copyright registration forms.

Read more in our blog


Past displays

Read more about previous Stories Unboxed, and the work we’ve done to make these displays possible:

April 2023

The Hairy Wardrobe Book

Account book of Robert de Wodehouse, deputy keeper of the king’s wardrobe, 1315-1316

The cover of a book with patches of straight brown hair.This detailed account of life at court in the reign of King Edward II is one of the wonders of The National Archives.

It is a beautiful, fascinating object and contains important details, all neatly laid out, about what King Edward spent at court on charity and religion, dress, food, jewels and officials’ wages.

The King’s New Clothes

Excerpt from an account book of the Auditors of the Imprest, about 1661

A handwritten list with a note in the margin.Charles II waited a year after returning from exile for his Coronation at Westminster on 23 April 1661. As this account reveals, he dressed in expensive robes.

Charles wore a newly-made crown and carried new regalia, Parliament having destroyed the ancient symbols of monarchy.

Read more in our blog

The top of 'the hairy wardrobe book.'

‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the hairiest of them all?’

Discover what we’ve learned about the materiality of the Hairy Wardrobe Book.

Read more in our blog

March 2023

A little light reading

How did our Collection Care team investigate the best place to locate our new initiative, Stories Unboxed?

Read more in our blog