Visiting the DRA during the Covid-19 Pandemic – from July 2021

This document explains what our operating procedures mean for those planning to use the Archive for private browsing and independent study during the ongoing pandemic. It also outlines what you will need to do whilst in our Covid-19 secure venue. The information is based on the latest guidance supplied by the UK Government, Public Health England and sector specific organisations, and will be reviewed as and when new information becomes available.

While in the Archive, all members of our community must:

  • observe social distancing rules at all times by staying two metres away from other people, or at least one metre where that is not possible;
  • wear a face covering whilst moving around the building;
  • wash their hands regularly;
  • comply with all instructions from staff and with any signs on display.

You should not visit the Archive if:

  • you are feeling unwell;
  • you have been in contact with someone who is unwell;
  • you are living in a local lockdown area;
  • you are awaiting the outcome of a Covid-19 test; or have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace.

We reserve the right to deny access to the Archive to any individuals who are not willing to abide by the guidelines set out in our policy documents.

Please take a moment to read the following step-by-step guide to visiting the Archive during the pandemic 

1. Drop-in or book an appointment

The Archive is once again open to drop-in visitors on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays between 11am and 3pm. This means you do not need to make an appointment to explore our open shelves, to carry out independent study, or to view exhibitions during our opening hours. However, our capacity remains lower than normal and so you may be asked to wait outside until space becomes available.

If you would like to guarantee access to the Archive at a set time, or you think you might need help using our collection, you will need to book an appointment at least one week in advance. Appointments should be made in person, or by telephoning 01548 830832, so that we can discuss your research interests and requirements with you. We will then be happy to confirm your appointment via email.  

2. Preparing to visit

Please consider carefully what equipment you will need with you on the day; this might include laptops, notebooks and pencils. You will not be able to bring large bags and bulky coats into the library. There is a coat rack in the entrance lobby, but items will be left at your own risk. You will not be able to borrow any equipment from the Archive.

If you have made an appointment, but are unable to attend, please let us know as soon as possible. If you do not cancel in advance you may not be able to book a future session.

3. Travelling to the Archive

A map showing our location, in the grounds of Shilstone House near Modbury, together with detailed directions, can be found on the ‘Find Us’ page of our website. Visitors must follow any signs on display, and park in the large DRA Car Park on the left before the Archive building; parking is free of charge.

Please do not park in our courtyard without prior permission, but note that blue badge holders may request a priority space in advance. 

Appointments are limited to two hours, so please arrive promptly as we may not be able to extend your library session, and you may need to rebook for another day.

4. On Arrival

The entrance to the Archive is on the ground floor; on foot take the first left after leaving the DRA car park. You will need to sanitize your hands at the door using the alcohol gel provided, before ringing the doorbell. Please wait, and a member of staff will greet you at the door.

For those using the NHS Covid-19 App, you will be able to check in to the Archive by scanning one of the QR Code posters within our building. The venue information will be logged on your phone for 21 days and, if during that time a coronavirus outbreak is identified at this venue, the App will notify you about what to do next.

Before entering our Research Library you will need to complete a registration form with your name and contact details (address, phone number and email address). You will only need to register once in a calendar year and we will hold this information in accordance with the Archive’s existing GDPR policy; groups are welcome, but each member must register with us individually. Registration details will also be used to support the Test and Trace system. Anyone who does not provide the required details will not be granted access.

If you have booked an appointment we will show you to a designated work space in our library, where you will find items that we have selected for you based on the information you provided during the booking process.

5. During Your Visit

You will be able to browse our open shelves and carry out independent research in our first floor Research Library as well as view our current displays. We will be happy to offer limited research support, from a distance and subject to staff availability, but we cannot guarantee to be able to meet all your requirements. If you would like help with your research, please book an appointment.

Whilst in the Archive, we ask that you follow the normal conventions of working in a library, and in particular:

  • maintain a low level of noise at all times; there should be no raised voices;
  • show respect for other visitors’ privacy and concentration;
  • wash your hands before using and at regular intervals during your stay; to this end alcohol-based hand sanitisers have been placed throughout the building. In line with current national practice you only need to wear gloves when working with delicate or photographic materials;
  • only use pencil in the library;
  • refrain from making marks of any kind on items in the collection;
  • turn pages carefully, and without moistening your fingers to do so;
  • obtain permission before photographing items in the collection, and complete a copyright
  • form as appropriate;
  • refrain from eating or drinking in the library, and from smoking anywhere in the building;
  • take great care when consulting any item in our collection;
  • refrain from brining animals onto the premises.

Please wear a face covering, such as a mask or a visor, whilst moving around the Archive. In case you forget to bring one, you will be able to obtain a mask from the staff member on duty in return for a suggested donation of £1 into a sealed collection box. You will not be allowed to enter the building without a face covering. While working independently and seated at a desk, however, you may remove your mask.

Please note that:

  • in line with up-to-date practice within The National Archives, and updated guidance from Public Health England about how the Covid-19 virus spreads, we no longer quarantine archival material after use;
  • where possible the windows will be kept open to aid ventilation and the heating will be switched off;
  • toilet facilities will be available on the ground floor;
  • refreshments will not be available at the Archive and we will not be providing any space for visitors to eat or drink.

6. Leaving the Archive

At the end of your visit a member of staff will escort you to the exit. Please leave all the items you have used at your work space and one of our team will put them away.

There is no charge for using the library, but we welcome donations, large or small, which can be deposited in our sealed collection box in the first floor lobby.

For monitoring purposes, we will retain a record of your contact information, the items you have used, your arrival and departure times and the names of any staff members with whom you came into contact.

If you fall ill within two weeks of your visit, please notify us immediately.

7. Further Visits

You are welcome to visit as often as you like, and to make multiple appointments to use the DRA library, but please continue to check our website and social media profiles for the latest information.

If you have any questions or concerns about your visit to the Archive, please call us on 01548 830832 or email

 Abigail C. Gray
Curator and Resident Archaeologist
Published: December 2020
Updated: March 2021
Revised: July 2021
Revised: November 2021

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Where we are

Devon Rural Archive, Shilstone, Modbury, Devon, PL21 0TW

Call us: 01548 830832

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