The West Sussex Archives Society (WSAS) Committee works to support West Sussex Record Office projects and an active membership, through various events, newsletters, conferences, etc. The committee meets regularly to manage and to undertake various activities on behalf of its membership. If you are interested in joining the committee, please contact us.
Philip Robinson – Chairman
I am a qualified local historian (Advanced Diploma, 2009 and M.Sc English Local History, 2011 Oxford). I am fascinated, in the words of William George Hoskins, in “the origin, growth, and (often) decay of the local society”. I am actively undertaking research on Chichester drawing heavily from census and demographic records.
I have worked in Chichester since 1996 and have lived within sight of its walls since 2017. I was the inaugural Vice Chancellor of the University of Chichester and currently I am the Chairman of Chichester Local History Society. Outside history, I actively support the theatre, music, cinema and rugby union football. I am a widower with four children and six boisterous grandchildren aged between 4 and 8.
Leigh Lawson – Vice Chairman
In 1989, I was asked to help with the research for a history of the Petworth Emigration Committee (PEC), sponsored by the University of Toronto. In Sussex, we tried to establish the names of the 1,800 emigrants who were sent to Canada under the auspices of the PEC. Two books were published in 2000, one a history of the emigration scheme containing details of the names we found, and the other edited letters written by the emigrants which were published at the time as pamphlets and in local newspapers. Since then, I have assisted my colleague Sheila Haines, with a biography of Thomas Sockett, rector of Petworth and a member of the PEC. Sheila and I, with Alison McCann, then embarked on a biography of Elizabeth Ilive, long time mistress and then wife of the 3rd Earl of Egremont. This was published in 2017.
Helen Whittle – Journal Editor
I am a writer and freelance historical researcher working for clients on genealogical projects as well as many other historical projects, e.g. for authors of books and magazine articles, for overseas MA and PhD students, in connection with legal matters [litigation and intestacy], art history etc. I have also written articles for various publications such as Family Tree Magazine, Who Do You Think You Are? and other family history journals. I have published The Clergy of Sussex c.1635-1665 (2019) which is a Directory of clergy who served the whole of Sussex during that period, based on research carried out for my (now abandoned) PhD.
I am currently working on a collection of abstracts of clergy wills for Sussex Record Society, also based on my earlier research. I have been Editor of West Sussex History since 2011 and was organiser of the WSAS Conference in 2019 which examined the impact that the civil wars and interregnum had on Sussex society.
I have lived in Worthing almost all my life and I have always been passionate about history and old buildings. This passion together with a realisation that much of the history of a building lies in its construction led me to do a two-year part-time course at the University of Oxford studying Vernacular Architecture. After that I continued my studies by studying for a BA in Landscape Studies at the University of Sussex, finally graduating in 2011. I have written articles for a number of local and national publications and am currently contributing a regular feature on historic buildings for the West Sussex Gazette. I also undertake freelance commissions for people wanting to discover the history of their own properties.
Wendy Walker – County Archivist
I have been working in archives since graduating from the University of Southampton with a BA in Archaeology and History in 1976. I obtained my postgraduate archive qualification at University College London in 1978. My introduction to archives began at school, where I carried out a piece of original research at the Essex Record Office, as part of my A Level History exam. I then extended my research over the following summer for the Emmison Prize and thus began a life long passion for archives. I began my professional career as an archivist at the Essex Record Office in 1978 and moved to Lewes in 1993 to work at the East Sussex Record Office. At East Sussex, I worked as an archivist, records manager and latterly as the programme manager for The Keep, overseeing the exciting project to develop and build the new historical resource centre for East Sussex, Brighton & Hove and the University of Sussex, which was opened by the Queen and Prince Philip in 2013. I joined the staff at the West Sussex Record Office as County Archivist in 2013 and am delighted to be working with the West Sussex Archives Society in helping to preserve the wonderful archives of the county and making these rich and varied collections accessible to everyone.