Out and about

Out and about

Explore the archives and museums

Header Image: Highgate Cemetery

Place in Focus, Discover Your Ancestors

Place in Focus

Discover Your Ancestors

Although there’s an amazing wealth of family history resources on the internet, there are good reasons for getting out and about. You can visit places where your ancestors used to live or were buried, and there are archives in every county which will help you with your research. There are also hundreds of local and national museums which can help you imagine what your ancestors’ lives were like – from working farms to historic dockyards, industrial heritage centres to textile museums. Here we present just a sample roundup of places around the UK you could visit, along with some of the key archives for your own research. You can find more ideas in features throughout this publication.


Geffrye Museum

Geffrye Museum
Kingsland Road, London E2
A series of period rooms and gardens showing English domestic interiors from 1600 to 2000, and an 18th-century almshouse (open selected days only).

Highgate Cemetery
The most famous graveyard in the capital, where luminaries from George Eliot to Douglas Adams, and many ordinary Londoners are interred

Museum of London

Museum of London
London Wall, London EC2
The definitive museum of London history from before Roman times to the present


Museum of English Rural Life
This houses the most comprehensive national collection of objects, books and archives relating to the history of food, farming and the countryside

Oxfordshire Museum
This small but very well organised museum typifies regional museums around the country

Weald & Downland Open Air Museum

Weald & Downland Open Air Museum
Near Chichester
See traditional crafts at work in authentic historic buildings from all eras


Gloucester Waterways Museum
Part of the National Waterways Museum (with other sites in Ellesmere Port and near Towcester), here’s where to experience life on the nation’s canals and rivers

M Shed, Bristol
Bristol’s industrial museum has had a major revamp, and tells the story of this important city and port

Museum of Bath at Work

Museum of Bath at Work
Explore the spa city’s retail, health and industrial history

East Anglia

Museum of East Anglican Life
Explore old shops, crafts and traditional machinery at an eclectic museum set in the countryside

Strangers’ Hall

Strangers’ Hall
This museum presents life in Tudor and Stuart times through period rooms


Black Country Living Museum
An open air museum at the heart of Britain’s Industrial Revolution

The Workhouse

The Workhouse
Southwell, Nottinghamshire
The most complete workhouse in the UK, run by the National Trust


Beamish Living Museum

Beamish Living Museum
County Durham
Beamish is a well known open air museum which aims to tell the story of life in North East England during the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian periods

The National Coal Mining Museum
Near Wakefield
The museum offers visitors the chance to go down one of England’s oldest working mines and discover the history of mining, and the stories of the country’s miners

York Castle Museum
The York Castle Museum is one of Britain’s leading museums of everyday life, best known for its recreated Victorian street, complete with an array of working shops


Manchester Jewish Museum
Experience the oldest surviving synagogue building in Manchester, and learn about the city’s Jewish heritage

Merseyside Maritime Museum
Learn what life at sea was like at one of the major ports of embarkation for emigrants to North America

People’s History Museum

People’s History Museum
The story of democracy in the UK, and of ordinary people’s home, work, and leisure lives for the past 200 years

Port Sunlight Museum & Garden Village
Explore the model community built for soap factory workers in the 1880s


National Museum of Rural Life
East Kilbride
Visit this historic working farm to experience the rural life of your Scottish ancestors in the Lowlands

People’s Palace

People’s Palace
Located on Glasgow Green, the People’s Palace tells the story of ordinary life in the city from 1750 to the end of the 20th century, including a reconstruction of a tenement flat

Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life
Explore the industrial history of Lanarkshire in the exhibition hall and on board a working tram around the site, to visit the mine, sawmill and miners’ cottages


National Museum Wales
Explore every aspect of Wales’ rich history and archaeology

National Woollen Museum
Near Newcastle Emlyn
Wool has been even more important to Welsh history than mining – find out about it here

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National Slate Museum

National Slate Museum
Travel into the past of a key industry, set in the dramatic landscape of Snowdonia

Northern Ireland

Ulster Folk & Transport Museum
Near Belfast
Explore cottages, shops and a farm showing what life was like 100 years ago

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