Hidden archives revealed at record office

Historic treasures hidden deep in the archives of West Sussex County Record Office have been brought out and filmed for a new video. Among them a priceless 1200-year old document, a famous toolbox, and even a parish register containing a doubtful story.

The carefully guarded items were brought out by white-gloved archivists for the film, now on the County Council’s website video page. They show a range of treasures from previous generations which the County Council looks after.

“The video features our oldest item, a charter granted by Oslac, a king of Sussex, bestowing land on a church,” said County Council Deputy Leader Lionel Barnard, who is responsible for the County Record Office. “It is a tiny Latin parchment of tremendous historical significance, written more than 1,200 years ago, in 780 AD.”

A toolbox, tools and even spectacles belonging to the woodcarver and typographer Eric Gill are also featured. Gill, who once lived in Chichester, created the world-famous Gill Sans typeface, still being used in the main BBC logo.

The film also shows a marriage and baptism register where one bored doodler from 1675 had practised his signature and drawn tiny pictures in the cover.

And the doubtful story? A widow brought her son to be baptised and was challenged to name the father. She claimed it was her stepson, and the video outlines the bizarre story documented in the register.

The film can be seen on the County Council website at www.westsussex.gov.uk and click West Sussex Videos.