Opening the doors on a treasure trove of local history

A young member of the Women's Land Army sowing c1918
A young member of the Women's Land Army sowing c1918

An archive centre which holds a treasure trove of artefacts from East Sussex history is throwing its doors open to the public.

The Keep, in Moulsecoomb, is holding an Open Day on Saturday, September 15, from 10am to 3.30pm, as part of the Brighton and Hove Heritage Open Days weekend.

The day will offer a chance to view rarely-seen archive material, enjoy a guided tour, listen to history talks, get advice on family and local history research and take part in hands-on, family-friendly activities.

The event will take as its twin themes the centenaries this year of the Armistice, which brought the First World War to an end, and the granting of votes to women for the first time.

The Keep opened five years ago, bringing together the local history collections of East Sussex Record Office, Brighton and Hove’s Royal Pavilion and Museums and the special collections of the University of Sussex.

During the day, talks will be given by Dr Chris Kempshall on the role of East Sussex women in the First World War and by Frances Stenlake on contributions made by suffragists from the county to the campaign for votes for women.

Meanwhile, behind-the-scenes guided tours will take in the public reference and reading rooms, repositories where archives are stored, the digitisation suite and conservation studio.

Tours, which last around 45 minutes, will be held at 10.15am, 11am, 11.45am, 12.30pm, 1.15pm and 2pm. Places can be pre-booked by calling The Keep on 01273 482349.

County Archivist Christopher Whittick said: “All year round, The Keep welcomes visitors from Sussex and beyond who are interested in family or local history.

“Many people may not be aware of the wealth of documents and records held here, and this is a great opportunity to come along and find out more.

“It’s also a chance to talk to our expert staff, take part in activities for all the family and see some of our archive material on one of its rare public outings.”

More information is available online at www.thekeep.info/events/the-keeps-open-day/