Frequently asked questions about reopening and visiting Surrey History Centre

To assist you in accessing our unique collections and e-Resources, we have answered some frequently asked questions

Booking a session at Surrey History Centre

How can I book a place?

It is free to visit us but all places should be booked prior to your visit. Please email us on

Sessions are allocated on a first come, first served basis. Demand will be high and we need to ensure that everyone has an opportunity of visiting to see the items they need. Visitors can book one or both sessions per day. Bookings are not transferable. Visitors who cannot attend a booking will need to re-book a subsequent session.

We strongly advise you to order any original documents at least 24 hours in advance of your visit. You can pre-order up to 10 documents per session. Although there will be limited production and copying services on the day, processing of requests may take longer. Standard access conditions and restrictions apply and we will contact you if any material you wish to see is covered by any restrictions.

Can I come in at any time between 9.30am and 5pm?

No. The revised times are to allow extra cleaning of public areas at lunchtime. You may visit for your booked session at any time between 9.30am and 12.45pm (10am and 12.45pm on Wednesdays) or 1.45pm and 5pm.

Pre booking will allow us to manage our reduced capacity and to collect details of visitors attending each session for contact tracing if required. We may need to share your contact details with the NHS test and trace service if, for example, a visitor on the same day as you tests positive. We are doing this to help reduce the risk of a local outbreak of coronavirus and in line with government guidance, as we want to do everything we can to protect our staff, visitors and the wider community.

A booked session allows up to three hours access to pre-requested collection material, and there are two sessions per day, Tuesday to Friday.

The session times are:

  • Morning session: 9.30am to 12.45pm (10am to 12.45pm on Wednesdays)
  • Afternoon session: 1.45pm to 5pm

We are also open on the second and forth Saturdays of the month: 9.30am to 1pm and 1.45pm to 4.15pm. For more information, please refer to our opening hours page.

By holding two sessions each day, we can ensure that more people have the opportunity to use our collections and conduct a full clean of the Heather D Hawker search room between each session.

Can I speak to someone about booking online?

You can contact us on 01483 518737 between 9:30am and 5pm Monday to Friday to enquire about the availability of timed sessions.

Can I book two people into the same session?

Yes, however you will require two separate bookings. There is a limit of one person per booking. Physical distancing rules will still apply.

Can I book more than one session a week?

Yes if places are available, but demand is likely to be high.

Can I book two sessions and stay all day?

Visitors can book one or both sessions per day, but the centre is closed to the public between 12.45pm and 1.45pm. This allows extra cleaning at lunchtime to sanitise the public areas before new visitors arrive for the afternoon session.

Can I book to use a computer, fiche or film reader without having booked to see any original documents?

Yes, that is fine.

Your pre-booked visit to Surrey History Centre

What services will be available?

When you arrive for your session, you will be able to access:

  • An allocated desk.
  • Your requested collection material.
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Subject to access restrictions, you will be able to purchase a camera permit to photograph your requested material

You will need to bring your own pencil, notepaper, laptop and camera/phone.

We are now able to provide pre-booked access to microfilm and fiche readers and public library computers in the searchroom. The library computers in the foyer, and the public ordering computers in the searchroom, are now available.

What collections are accessible?

Subject to normal access restrictions or conservation requirements, all of our collections are available for request. We strongly advise you to order any original documents at least 24 hours in advance of your visit. You can pre-order up to 10 documents per session. Please use our online catalogue to identify what you need to see or contact us if you need any help.

Can I copy documents?

We offer a photocopying and digital copying service. Photo permits will be available for purchase as usual if you wish to take your own photographs.

Can I place collections on hold for another visit?

Yes, although our standard reserve period of seven days still applies.

Health and safety of visitors and staff

What safety and hygiene measures are in place?

The health and safety of our visitors and staff is always our top priority and we will be fully complying with NHS England health guidelines to protect everyone who visits.

  • We recommend that face coverings continue to be worn by people visiting Surrey History Centre.
  • Hand hygiene facilities will be available in the foyer and in other key locations.
  • Toilets will be well stocked with hand soap and paper towels, and instructions on how to wash hands properly will be provided. We will ask you to wash your hands thoroughly (rather than use hand sanitiser) before entering the searchroom as this is better for the documents.
  • All hard surfaces in the foyer and Heather D Hawker search room will be thoroughly cleaned between each session.
  • Physical distancing measures have been implemented.
  • All visitors will be allocated socially distanced seating.

What will open and when

Will I be able to attend talks and other events at the History Centre?

At present all of our talks and activities are online. Please see our programme of events.

Can I purchase items in your foyer shop?

Payments for photo permits, our research service, our reprographics service and certified copies can still be made in our foyer. Books and other materials on sale at Surrey History Centre can be purchased in our foyer or via our on online shop. Contactless payment is preferred

Will the public refreshment room be open?

Yes, the public refreshment room, drinks vending machine and water dispenser are available but we ask you to use hand sanitiser on entering the room.

Can I book a venue for a meeting, training course or event?

Our conference room will remain closed at this stage. We will open venue hire spaces when it is safe to do so. Stay updated by joining our mailing list or following our social media channels.