Victorian London - Organisations - Government Departments -State Paper Office

STATE PAPER OFFICE, in ST. JAMES'S PARK, at the bottom of DUKE STREET WEST, where a flight of stone steps leads you into the Parade, is a repository for the reception and arrangement of the documents accumulating in the offices of the Privy Council and the Secretaries of State, at whose disposal the documents are held. The office was established in 1578, and enlarged and made into a "set form or library in the reign of James I. The papers were originally kept in the uppermost rooms of the Gate-house at Whitehall and were first put in order during the Grenville administration in the reign of George III. The present building was erected in 1833. Access to the papers can only be obtained by a written order from the Secretary of State for the Home Department, and then only for a certain reign or period. Unrestricted access has never as yet, I believe, been granted, though it would be difficult to assign a valid reason why the papers, prior to the accession of the House of Hanover, should not be made as accessible to the public as the Cottonian or Harleian collections in the Museum; or the records of the kingdom in the Tower, or Rolls Chapel. A few of the state papers have been printed by her Majesty's Government, in quarto.

Peter Cunningham, Hand-Book of London, 1850