Guide to the Cheshire Record Office (and Chester Diocesan Record Office) edited by Caroline Williams. Cheshire Record Office, Duke Street, Chester, Cheshire CH1 1RL. c. 1991, reprinted 1994. 166 pp. Maps, illustrations and index. Paperback. £10.68 airmail. Payment by Sterling checks to "Cheshire County Council". No credit cards.

The county archivist warns that this book is now somewhat out of date and is currently being revised. This volume, which is a high quality production, was developed in 1989 when the Cheshire Record Office celebrated its 40th anniversary and won the nationally-awarded Phillimore prize in 1992.

The records have been divided into three broad groups: official organizations, ecclesiastical bodies and private concerns. Within these, each group is prefaced by a note on the origin, powers and functions of the record creating body and is followed by a brief description of the main record types with covering dates and group references. The level of detail varies but the general aim is to reveal the richness of Cheshire sources; in this it succeeds. Related records from different sources are brought together in the guide, and the excellent index encourages the user to take a subject-orientated approach to the records.

This is an area that has undergone many boundary changes and the Diocese of Chester was much bigger than the current county of Cheshire. The maps illustrate some of these changes. There is no map of the parishes within the county or the diocese. There is a list of all Church of England parishes showing the dates of the registers held. More unusually the list also shows the dates for which other parish records are held. Similar lists are provided for the large number of Methodist circuits and chapels, plus other nonconformist groups.

There is also a very extensive collection of records from over 800 schools, predominantly 19th and 20th century. There are lots of sources listed here that will keep you busy in your Cheshire research for a long time to come. Definitely a required text if you are going to do any in depth research in Cheshire.

The County Record Office does provide research services at £16 per hour, with copies extra. Contact Paul Milner if you are interested in further information on services provided.

Reviewed by Paul Milner
BIGWILL v.3 no.6, 1996