You can search Ancestry, FindMyPast, other online resources and even our own range of CDs but at some stage you will need to back up your findings with primary sources – the physical documents held in an archive – or view some artifacts.

Here are a few Berkshire-based archives that may have relevant records

Record Office

The pre-1974 Royal County of Berkshire’s historic records, including those of places in North Berkshire and the Vale of the White Horse, are held at the Royal Berkshire Acrhives in Reading.


Advance booking required. You will also need a County Archives Research Network (CARN) ticket, obtained on arrival on production of ID  (name, address and signature) with you.


Royal Berkshire Archives occupies a modern building just off Castle Hill in Reading. It shares the site with Reading Register Office. There is ample free parking on site.


Royal Berkshire Archives is an Accredited Archive Service.


It offers some research services but only within the materials that it holds. An hourly fee is payable — currently £28 an hour, with a £14 minimum charge. A photographic restoration service is also available, prices start from £14. Contact the Royal Berkshire Archives directly for details.


The reception area has a drinks machine and some snacks for purchase. You can eat a packed lunch here too, or outside in the grounds during summer. A nearby Marks and Spencer shop attached to a local petrol station sells food, sandwiches, and drinks and is three minutes’ walk away. Reading town centre has a wide selection of pubs, cafes and eating places. The centre is a 5-10 minute (downhill) walk away.


The Record Office has many key resources for family history research, including:

  • Anglican Parish Registers for ‘old’ Berkshire
  • nonconformist parochial registers
  • pre-1858 Berkshire wills (Archdeacon’s court)
  • manorial and estate papers
  • local government records
  • Quarter Sessions records
  • Poor Law Union records
  • Berkshire census returns
  • Workhouse and school records
  • Trade directories and business records
  • Tithe and enclosure maps and records
  • Poll books and electoral registers
  • Maps
  • Broadmoor and Fairmile Hospital Records (some access restrictions)
In many cases, documents can be viewed on microfilm or microfiche, which helps to preserve the originals.


Register Offices

Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages for Berkshire

These contacts may help you when you want to obtain copy certificates of Births, Marriages and Deaths from local registrars, rather than from General Register Office (GRO) records.


Remember that local registrars have their own indexes to historic local life events. They cannot provide copy certificates from the  national GRO references.


You can find local references for many life events first registered in the Bradfield and Reading Registration Districts on the Berkshire BMD website. 


Details are given for Register Offices in Berkshire’s six unitary authorities  and for those in adjoining Registration Districts. Addresses and phone numbers can and do change. Directories and many websites frequently carry incorrect details. Registrars may visit other locations (libraries, hospitals) by appointment. Such places may be listed as ‘offices’ in some directories and websites. Your first enquiries should always be directed to the Register Offices listed below.


You can find local references for many life events first registered in the Bradfield and Reading Registration Districts on the Berkshire BMD website. 


UK BMD identifies the Registration Districts for Berkshire from July 1837 to the present time. The districts were also used administratively to compile census returns for the years 1851 to 1911. Registration Districts in BerkshireClick on a Registration District in the list on that web page to find the individual towns and villages covered, with applicable dates.


Here are the locations and contact details for present day register offices that cover the historic Royal County of Berkshire.

Abingdon Roysse Court, Bridge Street, Abingdon, OX14 3HU 0345-241-2489*
Basingstoke The Goldings, London Road, Basingstoke, RG21 4AN 0300 555 1392
Bracknell Time Square, Market Street, Bracknell RG12 1JD 01344-352000 (Customer Services)
Didcot 197 Broadway, Didcot, OX11 8RU 0345-241-2489*
Henley 68 Northfield End, Henley, RG9 2JN 0345-241-2489*
Newbury (West Berkshire) Shaw House, Church Road, Newbury RG14 2DR 01635 279 230
Oxfordshire Oxfordshire Registrars, Tidmarsh Lane, Oxford OX1 1NS 0345-241-2489*

Civic Offices, Bridge Street, Reading, RG12LU

0118 937 3533
Slough The Curve, William Street, Slough SL1 1XY 01753 787 600
Surrey Six register offices cover the county. This link has full details  
Windsor & Maidenhead Town Hall, St Ives Road, Maidenhead, SL6 1RF 01628 796 422
Wokingham Civic Offices, Shute End, Wokingham RG40 1BN 0118 974 6554
  This is a common number for Oxfordshire’s Register Offices  

Bracknell (Central Library)

Town Square, Bracknell, RG12 1BH

+44 (0)1344 423149

Monthly help sessions run by society volunteers. Local studies section. Ancestry Library edition and Findmypast.


Maidenhead and Windsor Local Studies Library

St Ives Road, Maidenhead, SL6 1QU

+44 (0)1628 796 969

Libraries: The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead

Local studies section.  Ancestry Library edition only.


Reading Local Studies Library

Central Library, Abbey Square, Reading, RG1 3BQ

+44 (0)118 901 5965

Extensive local studies collection, including Berkshire newspapers.


Reading University Library

Whiteknights, PO Box 223, Reading, RG6 6AE

+44 (0)118 378 8770

Open to public. Best visited out of term time.


Slough Library at The Curve

William Street, Slough, SL1 1XY

+44 (0)1753 875533

Local studies section. Ancestry Library edition, Findmypast and Forces War Records.


West Berkshire (Newbury) Library

The Wharf, Newbury, RG14 5AU

+44 (0)1635 519900

Regular help sessions run by society volunteers. Local studies section. Ancestry Library edition and The British Newspaper Archive.


Windsor Library

Bachelors Acre, Windsor, SL4 1ER

+44 (0) 1753 743941 (Reference Library)

Libraries: The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead

 Local studies section. Ancestry Library edition only.


Wokingham Library

Denmark Street, Wokingham, RG40 2BB

+44 (0)118 978 1368

Monthly help sessions run by society volunteers. Local studies section. Ancestry Library edition only.


Family historians with Berkshire interests will find these museums useful


Museum of English Rural Life

University of Reading, Redlands Road, Reading, RG1 5EX

+44 (0)118 378 8660


Reading Museum

Town Hall, Blagrave Street, Reading, RG1 1QH

+44 (0)118 939 9800


Vale & Downland Museum

Church Street, Wantage, OX12 8BL

+44 (0)1235 771447 


West Berkshire Museum

The Wharf, Newbury, RG14 5AU

+44 (0)1635 519562 Ext2562