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The National Archives

The National Archives

PLEASE NOTE: The Map and Large Document Reading Room is not run by the Maps and Photographs Team. Please consult the map web pages which contain much information about our holdings and links to our research guides at . If this does not answer your query, please use the general enquiries contact form for The National Archives, at

The maps in The National Archives, like the other records it holds, have accrued in government departments or courts of law in the course of the activities of those bodies. The National Archives holds in the region of six million maps, from many parts of the world, from the 15th century onwards, which illustrate British colonial, military, naval, diplomatic and commercial interests overseas, as well as many aspects of domestic policy. Holdings include maps, plans, atlases, architectural drawings, sea charts and air photographs (among other photographs of places). Many maps selected for permanent preservation have been transferred to The National Archives in discrete map series, such as the map libraries of the Colonial Office, Foreign Office and War Office. The vast majority lie with the despatches, reports, registered files or other papers with which they were originally associated in the course of government business.

Access through the online Catalogue, by finding aids available in the reading rooms, and through publications. These include Maps and Plans in the Public Record Office (vol.1 - British Isles c.1410-1860; vol.2 - America and West Indies; vol.3 - Africa; vol.4 Europe and Turkey). Maps for Family and Local History, The National Archives Readers’ Guide no. 26, (The National Archives, 2004), Geraldine Beech and Rose Mitchell, gives general information on these subjects, and detailed guidance on the Tithe, Valuation Office and National Farm Surveys held at The National Archives.


Collections Expertise and Engagement Department, The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU

Main contact

Telephone number

E-mail address

Opening hours

Tuesday and Thursday 0900-1900; Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 0900-1700. Closed on Sundays, Mondays, public holidays and the Saturdays before bank holidays; please check the website for closure dates.


Admission to the Map and Large Document Reading Room is by Reader's Ticket (proof of identity required – see website for current details, where you will also find other useful information for example on record copying and photography).



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