Kent library and history centre opens in Maidstone

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Media captionThe archives include a record of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's speeding offence

Archives that stretch about 14km (9 miles) have been housed in a new library centre opened in Kent.

The Kent History and Library Centre in James Whatman Way, Maidstone, has been built to protect and display the historic documents.

The library also contains about 40,000 books and includes an area where visitors can access some of the archived material dating back to AD699.

It includes a number of letters by Jane Austen and one from Lord Nelson.

The centre replaces the Centre for Kentish Studies and the County Central Library.

Both have closed, together with the East Kent Archives Centre in Dover, in preparation for the opening of the new centre.

The archive also includes a charter, dating from AD699, from the then King of Kent, granting tax relief to a monastery.

Kent County Council spokesman said: "The new centre is purpose built to protect and give people access to more of our archive material, and to provide a 21st century library in the heart of Kent.

"There will also be a community history area, archive search room, digital studio, free public internet access and wifi, and a large space for displays and events."

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