Kent History and Library Centre

The Kent History and Library Centre looks after historic material dating back to 699AD. It's the place to come for anyone interested in local history.

It is also the the main library for the Maidstone area.

It offers:

  • access to Kent's archives and local history under one roof
  • a state-of-the-art public search room for consulting original documents, older books and local studies material
  • superb photocopying and photography facilities
  • free access to history websites – including Ancestry and Find my Past 
  • a bookable meeting room 
  • a multi-use space used for history workshops, talks and exhibitions
  • advice from experts in reading old handwriting (palaeography), Latin, locating sources, research topics, conserving books and documents
  • courses on reading old handwriting, family and local history – ask staff for details
  • exciting programmes of exhibitions and talks
  • links with the First World War Centenary Programme.

The community history area

The community history area holds a good range of books on the history of the county – some are general history books and others relate to specific places or subjects. Most of the books are for reference only but there is also a lending collection. Only a small proportion of the main book collection is available in the community history area and to find out what else is available you will need to search the library catalogue

Computers are available in the community history area to help you with your research. Use our archive catalogue to get an overview of the documents we keep at the History and Library Centre. If you find something you'd like to look at in more detail, make a note of the finding number and ask a member of staff to retrieve the document for viewing in the search room.

You can also use Kent History Source on any of our computers to view:

  • parish records 
  • bishops' transcripts
  • land tax assessments
  • court records
  • will and probate records.

Accessing the archives 

Find out about accessing the archives.

Research service

We offer a research service for help with:

  • in-depth family history, local history and house history research (beyond looking at basic sources for a specific piece of information)
  • transcriptions of documents
  • summaries of Latin documents - for example key details from wills or title deeds
  • research relating to specific types of records - for example medical (Oakwood Hospital/St Augustine's) or workhouse records
  • research in the full range of material available in the archive and local history collections, for all periods back to the 15th century 
  • your own research in the search room at the Kent History and Library Centre
  • reading and interpreting your own documents. 

We charge £35 per hour (with a minimum charge of £8.75). Mark any correspondence for attention of the researcher. Research may take several weeks to be completed, and in some cases it may not be possible to carry out research due to the pressure on the service. Contact us on 03000 41 31 31 for more information.

Read about or charges for research and digital reproduction (PDF, 125.1 KB)

History groups 

If you're looking for a history group to join or want to contact another community history or heritage group, we can put you in touch with your nearest one.  

Library services

The library offers 40,000 books and is host to a regular programme of activities such as regular storytime and baby bounce and rhyme sessions. The centre also hosts author events, reading groups and other community activities. There are public computers with free access to office software and the internet and we offer support for those needing help to get online.

Find out what's on at the centre or find out more about library services.