While you’re here

When taking a break from your research or while you’re here for an event or talk, there is plenty to do and see at The National Archives.

Restaurant and cafe

We have a restaurant that serves breakfast from 08:30 to 10:30 and lunch from 12:00 to 14:30. Dietary information is printed on the menu.

Our cafe serves specialty coffees and teas, cakes, pastries, snacks and sandwiches.

You can also eat your own food in the restaurant and coffee bar.

See full opening times.

Keeper’s Gallery

The Keeper’s Gallery is an on site exhibition space which showcases highlights from The National Archives.


Our shop sells a wide range of books, gifts, souvenirs and greeting cards. It’s open from 09:00 to 17:00, Tuesday to Saturday. You can also shop online.

Explore our grounds

Step outside for a breath of fresh air and a stroll around. With picnic benches and paths around the lake, our delightful green area is just outside the building and only a five-minute walk from the River Thames.

Be our Friend

The Friends of The National Archives is a voluntary organisation dedicated to supporting The National Archives’ role in preserving and providing access to the nation’s records.

Now in their 27th year, the Friends have over a thousand members. Become a member of the Friends of The National Archives and enjoy benefits, including a discount in the shop and access to a members’ lounge.



There is a free cloakroom on the ground floor for bags, coats and restricted items. Our lockers can take a maximum item size of 43 cm x 42 cm x 24 cm. Items larger than this, except pushchairs and baby buggies, are not permitted in the building. Nearby luggage storage providers can be found by searching on www.stasher.com.

Our reading rooms are air-conditioned so you may want to bring a jumper or cardigan for your visit should you feel the cold.

Free Wi-Fi

We’ve improved our Wi-Fi coverage to ensure that we meet the technological demands of our visitors, and will continue to provide a large number of PCs for reading room visitors to use.

On site payments

Cash and credit cards are accepted in the shop, restaurant, coffee bars, and for paying for copies of documents; we do not accept cheques.

Guidance for visitors

Visiting children

Children are very welcome on site, although those aged under 16 are only allowed in the reading rooms at the discretion of the public services manager and must be supervised at all times by an adult. Young children and babies are not normally allowed in the reading rooms as they can easily become bored and may disturb other visitors.

Document handling

You may find that you need to consult several different types of document during your visit, such as books, parchment and maps. Read our advice on how to handle documents, and see examples of best practice.


No animals, apart from assistance dogs for disabled people, are allowed at The National Archives.

Luggage and large items

Suitcases and other items that are too large to fit inside our lockers are not allowed inside the building: please make arrangements to leave luggage elsewhere.


Smoking is not allowed in any part of the building.

Certificates of attendance

If you need a certificate of attendance you will have to sign the attendance diary at the Start Here desk for every day you study with us. At the end of your visit the staff on the Start Here desk will issue a certificate for the days you have signed.

What to bring into the reading rooms

You may use only graphite pencils in the reading rooms and no erasers are allowed. To help us preserve our documents, pens and coloured pencils are not permitted. See a list of what you can and can’t take into the reading rooms.

You can use your hand-held camera, smart phone, tablet or laptop to take still images of some documents. We provide camera stands in our reading rooms with a standard screw-in mount, or you can use universal adapters that enable smart phones or tablets to use these stands.

You may not use any device that scans images, or that has an integral or external stand or extension (such as a tripod or selfie stick).

Flash photography is not permitted. Copyright applies to all records: please ask at the record copying help desks for details.

You may bring notepads and laptops to make notes. You may use one notepad (up to A4 size) and up to 20 sheets of loose paper in the document reading rooms.

We provide power sockets on most desks in the reading rooms, for you to charge your laptop or camera. You must ensure that your own equipment is safe to plug in. You should not use any other power sockets in the building.

A full list of rules is available here.