From M5 Junction 27 follow the A361 to Barnstaple. At Portmore roundabout turn right and follow signs for A39 Barnstaple/Lynton, entering the town along Eastern Avenue. Follow signs for A39 Town Centre/Lynton to avoid the one-way system. Turn left at the small roundabout at the end of Alexandra Road, to B3149 Braunton/Ilfracombe. Go straight on at the next small roundabout, then left into Tuly Street.
From the west (A361) follow the signs for the town centre into Rolle Street. Cross the river and turn right at the small roundabout, then left into Tuly Street.
From the north (A39) enter down North Road, past Pilton Park. Go straight across two small roundabouts, then left into Tuly Street.
Pay-and-display car parks are located at the front and back of the Library building.
All services to Barnstaple Station are via Exeter St David’s. The Record Office is a 15 minute walk from the station. Please see rail service providers' websites for more information.
A number of local services, including those run by Stagecoach and Filers Travel, stop at Barnstaple Bus Station, which is a 10 minute walk from the Record Office. There are a number of bus and coach routes connecting locations throughout North Devon. Please see the Travel Devon website for more information.
The North Devon Record Office's Opening Hours are:
Wednesday to Friday: 10.00 am - 5.00 pm
(We are no longer open on Mondays or Tuesdays)
We are closed on public holidays and bank holidays.
We issue South West Heritage Trust readers' tickets which are valid for four years. If you have not visited us before, please bring some form of identification containing your name, current address and signature (for example a driving licence, utility bill and other ID with signature) so we can issue you with one of our readers' tickets.
South West Heritage Trust readers' tickets are valid at Devon Heritage Centre, Somerset Heritage Centre, North Devon Record Office and the North Somerset archive service.
Please be aware that we do not accept passports, tickets from The National Archives or library cards. We are not part of the CARN ticket scheme and do not accept CARN tickets.
If your card has expired please bring some identification with you when you visit, so we can issue you with a new readers' ticket.
Which Devon Archive Should I Visit?
Devon has three repositories which hold archives:
- Devon Heritage Centre at Sowton, Exeter
- North Devon Record Office at Barnstaple
- Plymouth and West Devon Record Office at Plymouth (run by Plymouth Council)
As each holds collections relating to its own geographical area, it is important to check before making a visit where the records you wish to see are held. The following information will help you decide which of these three best suits your own research needs. If you have any further queries about the location of a particular collection, please contact Devon Archives and Local Studies by email, email@example.com or by telephone, 01392 384253.
The most commonly used archive items - Church of England parish registers for the whole of Devon, Plymouth and Torbay - have been microfilmed. All three of the above repositories have a full set of these either on microfiche or microfilm. Some registers, particularly those that have been recently deposited, are not filmed, and in this case it is necessary to visit the record office which holds the original.
Many Church of England parish registers have been digitised and are available online via Find My Past. Free access to Find My Past is provided at all three offices and a small number of Devon Libraries.
Microfiche of some other filmed sources such as non-conformist registers, Bishops' Transcripts and tithe maps and apportionments are also available at all three offices. Microfiche of filmed electoral registers, land tax assessments and the Inland Revenue wills series are available at both the Devon Heritage Centre and North Devon Record Office.
Devon Heritage Centre in Exeter generally holds collections which relate to the whole county, including the Diocesan records, county Quarter Sessions and County Council collections. This includes estate and family collections, and solicitors' collections which cover more than one area of Devon. Most of these records are not filmed or digitised, and are only available in their original format. The West Country Studies Library, which contains the county collection of local history material is also available at the Devon Heritage Centre. It includes published books, manuscript volumes, pamphlets, journals, maps, prints, engravings, photographs, newspapers and various files relating to local parish and family history.
The North Devon Record Office holds collections from churches and chapels, borough courts, solicitors, estates and families, local authorities and poor law unions, hospitals, clubs, societies and charities, businesses and schools in the North Devon area. Some collections which were previously held at Exeter have been transferred to the North Devon Record Office since 1988. The Local Studies collection relating to North Devon is also available. The North Devon Athenaeum, which is a private library also shares the searchroom facilities.
Plymouth and West Devon Record Office is run by Plymouth Council. It holds archives relating to the city of Plymouth and some West Devon parishes, as well as several other South Devon parishes close to Plymouth. Local Studies collections relating to Plymouth and its surrounding area are held separately. The Local Studies Collections include resources useful to anyone researching naval history, including books, periodicals and illustrations relating to the history of the Royal Navy and its presence in Plymouth.
The majority of our catalogues can be viewed online from our Online Catalogues page. From here select the Devon Archives Catalogue link. This provides access to catalogues for items held at the Devon Heritage Centre and North Devon Record Office.
In the searchbox that appears, type any keywords, and click search. The results can be ordered by Relevance, Reference Number or Date depending on your preference. To view a catalogue description in detail click on the reference number of the item in which you are interested. Further guidance on searching the online catalogue can be found in the ‘Help’ section of the Online Catalogue, or by clicking the question mark logos scattered around the page.
Looking at Original Documents
We produce documents from the strongrooms at regular times throughout the day. Documents will be brought out to you at the following times:
All documents should be handled with care, pencils should be used to make notes and all volumes rested on the cushions provided. Full sets of our searchroom rules are available to consult on the main searchroom table. Guides for locating and ordering documents are available in the searchroom.
Staff are always pleased to give advice on handling, reading or understanding documents, using catalogues and lists, etc.
You can bring in a camera to take photographs of documents, as long as you purchase a photographic licence from the main reception. Charges apply for Daily, Weekly, Monthly and Annual Licences. Please see our Charges Page for more information.
Photographs of original documents must be for personal use or research. If you wish to exhibit, reproduce or publish a photographic print or an image of a document in printed form, or publish it on a website, please inform us. We can identify and contact the document/photograph owner, and the copyright owner for permission, or assist you to do this yourself. If you do not inform us that you are intending to reproduce or publish an item held in our archives to which copyright applies, you will be infringing the laws of copyright.
The North Devon Record Office is located on the second floor of Barnstaple Library, in Tuly Street, Barnstaple. All internal areas are accessible, with a lift and a disabled toilet. Off-street car parking (pay and display) is available adjacent to the building, with designated disabled parking. This is operated by North Devon District Council.
There is a hearing loop in the searchroom.
Please leave any bags, luggage or bulky coats in the lockers available in the foyer. You can collect a key for the locker from the searchroom reception and return it after use.
There is a refreshment area for the use of North Devon Record Office researchers in the foyer area.
Researchers can bring their own laptops. There are power points on or under searchroom tables and next to microfiche readers. Wifi access is available. Please note laptop bags must be stored in the lockers provided.
An ultraviolet lamp is available for reading badly faded ink.
There is no charge for using the North Devon Record Office searchroom. Charges are made for photocopies and printouts, digital copies and for the use of cameras.
Service Points provide a vital resource to people who find it difficult to travel to the Devon Heritage Centre or the North Devon Record Office. They are generally located in museums, libraries or heritage centres, and hold microfiche and microfilm copies of historical records for the areas which they cover. These include parish registers of baptisms, marriages and burials, while some of them hold microfiche copies of tithe maps and apportionments (showing land ownership and use in about 1840), non-conformist registers and some other records of the local area. Some Service Points also have internet access and hold a range of printed source material.
The links below provide access to the Service Point websites, with email addresses given where possible: