Two outstanding features of the period 1936
to 1952 were the completion of the Records Building just before the war,
and the receipt of the Canterbury and Rochester Probate Records in 1946.
The former gave Kent a repository second to none in the entire country,
and the latter placed in that repository a series of documents of
outstanding interest and importance to this county, country and to all
who trace their ancestry from Kent.
The achievement of twenty years’ labour was an office
comprising some of the finest accommodation available in England,
containing well over a million pieces of every describable kind and
dating from the charter of King Wihtred, 6991 to the
semi-current records of the County Council. Much of what was done could
not have been accomplished without the keen interest of the Clerk of the
Peace and of the County Council, Mr. W. L. Platts, the sympathetic
support of Major M. Teichman Derville both as President of the
Archaeologica1 Society and as a County Councillor, and others, not least
the many owners of documents who have been so public-spirited as to
give, or to deposit on loan, their papers.
Naturally in many respects the collection housed at the
County Hall is far from representative of the whole administrative
county. So far very few parochial archives have been deposited for safe
custody, a state which it is hoped
may be improved as liaison between the civil and
ecclesiastical authorities in this respect becomes closer. On the other
hand no student of Kentish history, purely local or on a wider basis,
can afford to overlook the contents of the Archives Office as a vital
source of information.
It is difficult to speak of the future with any degree of
exactitude, but some indication of possible lines of development may be
useful. The setting up of a County Archives Committee indicates the
desire of the County Council to see the office make its maximum
contribution to the cultural and educational life of the community, and
without ever releasing the primary duty towards modern administrative
records, it may well be that the emphasis, at least for a period, will
shift to these wider aspects. Internally this presupposes improved
facilities for searchers, more catalogues and indexes, and ultimately
the publication of a Guide to the office. It indicates a
gradually increasing tempo of activity aimed at bringing together as
representative as possible a collection of Kentish archives. It suggests
the periodic holding of exhibitions illustrative of particular types of
record or of some facet of local or national history.
In such work the interest of the general public is essential and
an appeal is therefore addressed to members of the Archaeologica1
Society to assist the County Archives Committee by urging owners to
1 See Arch. Cant., LX
(1947), pp. 1-14.