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2010 UK Memory of the World Register

On 14 July 2010 ten items and collections became the first inscriptions to the UK Memory of the World Register, a list of documentary heritage which holds cultural significance specific to the UK. These ten inscriptions come from across the country, span nearly 1000 years of history and embody some of the pivotal moments and periods that have shaped the UK.

Charter of King William I to the City of London

Charter of King William I

Type of heritage: Document
Date of inscription: 2010
Nominating institution: City of London Corporation

Further Info: City of London website

This charter is the oldest document in the archive of the City of London, one of the most important city archives in North-Western Europe.

It appears to be the earliest royal or imperial document which guarantees the collective rights of the inhabitants of any town. Earlier documents, especially in Germany, granted privileges to institutions in towns, such as major churches, or to groups of inhabitants, such as merchants.

The letter is written in Old English (and so significantly not in William’s native Norman French). It says, in modern English:

William the king, friendly salutes William the bishop and Godfrey the portreeve and all the burgesses within London both French and English. And I declare that I grant you to be all law-worthy, as you were in the days of King Edward; And I grant that every child shall be his father’s heir, after his father’s days; And I will not suffer any person to do you wrong; God keep you

It expresses the circumstances of London in the Norman Conquest of England during 1066. At this time, London was the largest, wealthiest and most powerful city in the land and also one of the leading European cities after Constantinople and Rome.

 

The Peterloo Relief Fund Account Book

Peterloo Relief Fund book

Type of heritage: Document
Date of inscription: 2010
Nominating institution: The John Rylands University Library, The University of Manchester

Further Info: The John Rylands University Library Archives webpage

The Peterloo Relief Fund Account Book provides vivid, first-hand documentary evidence of one of the most significant events in British history, the Peterloo Massacre of 1819. This small volume records payments made to those who were wounded in the Massacre, and to the dependants of those killed. Some 350 names are recorded, with graphic descriptions of their injuries and the circumstances in which they were inflicted, with some information on their backgrounds and characters.

On 16 August 1819 a mass meeting was called in St Peter’s Fields, Manchester, by ‘Orator’ Henry Hunt and other radicals, to advocate Parliamentary reform and the abolition of the Corn Laws. The throng was around 80,000-strong, according to modern estimates, and it included many women and children. The local magistrates had several days earlier declared the meeting illegal, and they mobilized the auxiliary Manchester Yeomanry Cavalry, who were supported by regular troops. As the first speaker began to address the meeting, the order was given for the special constables and cavalry to clear the Field. They succeeded, but left at least fifteen dead and some 400 injured. Many were trampled or slashed with sabres. The event was quickly christened the Peterloo Massacre, an ironic echo of the Battle of Waterloo four years earlier. This manuscript draws individuals out of that crowd and brings them to life.

 

WVS/WRVS Narrative Reports 1939-1996

WVRS Records

Type of heritage: Collection
Date of inscription: 2010
Nominating institution: Royal Voluntary Service (formerly known as WRVS and as the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service)

Further Info: Royal Voluntary Service website

The Women’s Voluntary Service for Air Raid Precautions was established by Lady Reading in May 1938 for the purpose of recruiting women to the ARP service. By 1943 WVS had just over one million members, making it one of the largest volunteering organisations in British history and had evolved to do just about anything. At the cessation of hostilities, the WVS transformed itself into one of the leading providers of social care; its activities and development over the following fifty years inextricably linked to the growth of the welfare state.

During WWII, the WVS grew to have a centre in most towns in the country reaching a peak of over 2000 in all. Between 1938 and 1992, each centre was required to make a monthly report of its activities and these narrative reports form the backbone of the Royal Voluntary Service Archive and Heritage Collection.

 

Letter from George Stephenson

Letter from George Stephenson

Type of heritage: Document
Date of inscription: 2010
Nominating institution: Liverpool Record Office

Further Info: Liverpool Record Office website

This is a unique holograph letter written by George Stevenson to his son Robert sent during the period of construction of the world’s first passenger railway between Liverpool and Manchester (1827). It is believed that no other letter written in Stephenson’s own hand discussing both the building of the railway and perhaps more interestingly, family matters, survives. The other surviving letters all relate to matters of business and were set down by a secretary. The introduction of passenger railways had an enormous impact on the world and helped changed traditional social structures and human mobility. The railway was a major engineering achievement and its significance cannot be under-estimated.

This letter is the most important in a collection of letters from Stephenson owned by Liverpool Record Office and is supported by a collection of material relating to the Liverpool to Manchester Railway including tickets from the first ever passenger train to run at the world famous Rainhill trials.

 

Peniarth Manuscript Collection

Peniarth manuscript, Llyfr du Caerfyrddin

Type of heritage: Collection
Date of inscription: 2010
Nominating institution: National Library of Wales

Further Info: The National Library of Wales website

The Peniarth Manuscript collection is the most important of the National Library of Wales’s manuscript collections, and the most important collection of manuscripts ever assembled in Wales. It consists of five hundred and sixty one works in Welsh, English, Latin, French and Cornish, dating from the 12th to the 19th century.

A nucleus of rather more than four-fifths of these formed the well-known Hengwrt Collection, which was established at Hengwrt, Meirionnydd by the antiquary Robert Vaughan (c.1592-1667) who gathered for his library priceless manuscripts such as The Hengwrt Chaucer, The Law of Hywel Dda and Beunans Meriasek.

Vaughan’s main interest was the Welsh language, and he collected in Hengwrt a great number of our most significant Welsh language manuscripts, including The Black Book of Carmarthen, The Book of Taliesin, The White Book of Rhydderch and The Chronicle of the Princes.

A number of the Peniarth manuscripts have been digitised by The National Library, and can be seen on the Digital Mirror pages. All the works listed above are included in this digital collection.

Preserving this important collection of manuscripts for the nation become one of the main reasons behind the effort to establish a National Library for Wales, and determined the location of the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth. It is the foundational collection of manuscripts on which further NLW collections have been developed.

 

Company of Scotland Trading to Africa & the Indies 1695-1707

Company of Scotland Trading to Africa and the Indies

Type of heritage: Collection
Date of inscription: 2010
Nominating institution: Jointly nomintated by The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc and the National Library of Scotland

Further Info: Online guide to the archives of Company of Scotland

The records of the Company of Scotland Trading to Africa and the Indies are uniquely significant in documenting the economic circumstances underlying the foundation of modern Scotland. They tell the story of a small, poor country on the north western fringe of Europe, striving to take its place on the international stage. In so doing, they open a window on how Scotland in the 1690s understood the world around it.

The Company of Scotland’s plan to establish a colony on the Isthmus of Darien in Central America proved enormously popular across Scotland. Subscriptions came in from the aristocracy, trades-people, farmers, professionals and the burghs, and totalled £400,000 sterling; a truly massive investment for such a poor country. Very quickly what had begun as a business venture was transformed into a popular patriotic cause.

The scheme’s catastrophic failure underlined Scotland’s frailty in the face of opposition from England. At the same time, the economic collapse it prompted forced Scotland towards political Union with England, finally enacted in 1707. Darien was thus a key contributing factor in the formation of Great Britain; the consequent dissolution of the independent Scottish parliament; and the resulting shift in Scots identity which, as Robert Burns saw it, turned his beloved homeland into ‘England’s province’. It might be said, then, that Darien brought down one nation and created another.

It is partly the context of failure itself that makes these records so unusual and valuable. The picture they reveal of failing ambitions, both imperial and economic, throws light upon themes and impulses that are still with us today, from financial bubbles to the aftermath of empire.

To Scotland itself, the Darien venture gave experiences which – despite their painful consequences at the time – became a vital link in the chain that made the nation one of the world’s most significant financial and industrial powerhouses in later times.

Today, more than 300 years after the failure of the Darien scheme, political controversy still surrounds the rights or wrongs of the Union, and Darien continues to occupy a special place in the Scottish cultural imagination. This is a part of our history that people still need to talk about. The records of the Company are therefore precious, and constitute part of the memory of the world.

 

The Life Story of David Lloyd George

The Life Story of Lloyd George title frame

Type of heritage: Film
Date of inscription: 2010
Nominating institution: National Screen & Sound Archive, National Library of Wales

Further Info: National Library of Wales website

Referred to by many film historians as ‘the find of the century’, the 1918 biopic ‘The Life Story of David Lloyd George’ is a unique item in the history of not just British cinema but World cinema. Directed by Maurice Elvey, this 152 minute 35mm film is thought to be the first feature length biopic of a contemporary living politician.

Filmed during the last months of WW1, and following a script by Sir Sydney Low, the film travels to locations associated with Lloyd George from his birthplace in Manchester, Llanystymdwy and Porthmadoc where he spent his childhood, schooldays and early career, a remarkable torchlight procession through the streets of Caernarfon, a re-creation of the 1908 Birmingham riots with over 10,000 extras, fascinating footage of a guided tour of a WW1 munitions factory to Westminster and eventually Downing Street. Norman Page, who plays the part of Lloyd George, grows in stature as the film progresses and is well supported by other cast members including Ernest Thesiger, Alma Reville and Douglas Munro.

Strangely, this film was never released, and was thought to have been destroyed after its confiscation from the Ideal Film Company offices in late 1918. However it was not destroyed but lay dormant for 76 years until the original nitrate negatives were discovered in 1974 by the then Wales Film & Television Archive.

 

The Chepman and Myllar Prints

The Chepman and Myllar prints

Type of heritage: Collection
Date of inscription: 2010
Nominating institution: National Library of Scotland

Further Info: National Library of Scotland website

The ‘Chepman and Myllar Prints’ is a volume containing eleven pieces of printing – all known only from these copies – that include the earliest surviving dated book printed in Scotland: John Lydgate’s The Complaint of the Black Knight, completed by Walter Chepman and Androw Myllar in the Cowgate of Edinburgh on 4 April 1508. There are also eight other books from this same press, of which two, dated 8 April and 20 April, are the only other Scottish books dated 1508; a tenth book possibly printed by Myllar; and an eleventh book printed outside Scotland but sharing the early history of the volume.

A patent dated 15 September 1507 granted to Chepman and Myllar by King James IV, asking them to import this printing press, shows that it was the first to be set up in Scotland. This volume therefore represents the beginning of over 500 years of Scottish printing history. Containing predominantly works of Scottish literature, the ‘Chepman and Myllar Prints’ mark the point at which literature, national awareness, and enterprise come together in Scotland in an utterly new form, and constitute one of Scotland’s major cultural icons.

 

The Pont Manuscript Maps

The Pont Manuscript Maps, Elgin, Loch Spynie

Type of heritage: Collection
Date of inscription: 2010
Nominating institution: National Library of Scotland

Further Info: National Library of Scotland website

The Pont manuscript maps are the earliest surviving topographic and chorographic survey of Scotland, dating to between 1583 and 1614. 77 maps survive, drawn in ink and pencil, on 38 fragile sheets of paper. Collectively they provide a key insight into early modern Scotland, with uniquely important graphic depictions of towns, castles, tower houses, rural settlements, mountains, rivers, woodland and economic resources. There are accompanying textual notes on the maps and transcribed which form a complementary itinerary of places with topographic descriptions of Scotland’s regions.

Surveyed and drafted by Timothy Pont (ca. 1656-1614), the Pont manuscript maps form the substantive background content to the first Atlas of Scotland, Joan Blaeu’s Atlas Novus, published in Amsterdam in 1654. With these published maps, some 20,000 place names in Scotland can be located, the vast majority appearing on a map for the first time.

 

St Kilda, Britain’s Loneliest Isle

St Kilda, film still

Type of heritage: Film
Date of inscription: 2010
Nominating institution: National Library of Scotland

Further Info: National Library of Scotland, Screen and Sound Archive webpage

A filmed voyage by steamer from Glasgow to St Kilda, containing scenes of the ports en-route and life of the population on St Kilda. Research supports the conclusion that the scenes on the island of Hirta were taken in May 1923, with footage of the voyage from Glasgow out to St Kilda shot later, c. 1928. The film was made on the eve of the evacuation of St Kilda, August 1930, and with it the end of two millennia of human habitation on the island.

 

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  • Image Gallery

    Click on an image to start the gallery

    • Image: Charter of King William I to the City of London, circa 1067, 2010 UK Memory of the World Register inscription

      Charter of King William I to the City of London, circa 1067, 2010 UK Memory of the World Register inscription

    • Image: Chepman and Myllar Prints

      Chepman and Myllar Prints

    • Image: Peterloo Relief Fund Account Book, 1819, 2010 UK Memory of the World Register inscription

      Peterloo Relief Fund Account Book, 1819, 2010 UK Memory of the World Register inscription

    • Image: WVRS records, 2010 UK Memory of the World Register inscription

      WVRS records, 2010 UK Memory of the World Register inscription

    • Image: Letter from George Stephenson, 1827, 2010 UK Memory of the World Register inscription

      Letter from George Stephenson, 1827, 2010 UK Memory of the World Register inscription

    • Image: Peniarth Manuscript, Llyfr du Caerfyrddin, 2010 UK Memory of the World Register inscription

      Peniarth Manuscript, Llyfr du Caerfyrddin, 2010 UK Memory of the World Register inscription

    • Image: Frontspiece of the journal of the court of directors of the Company of Scotland Trading to Africa and the Indies 1695-1707, 2010 UK Memory of the World Register inscription (Reproduced by kind permission of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group)

      Frontspiece of the journal of the court of directors of the Company of Scotland Trading to Africa and the Indies 1695-1707, 2010 UK Memory of the World Register inscription (Reproduced by kind permission of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group)

    • Image: Lloyd George Title Frame, 2010 UK Memory of the World Register inscription

      Lloyd George Title Frame, 2010 UK Memory of the World Register inscription

    • Image: The Pont Manuscript Maps, Elgin, Loch Spynie, 2010 UK Memory of the World Register inscription

      The Pont Manuscript Maps, Elgin, Loch Spynie, 2010 UK Memory of the World Register inscription

    • Image: St Kilda film scene, 2010 UK Memory of the World Register inscription

      St Kilda film scene, 2010 UK Memory of the World Register inscription

    • Image: Memory of the World logo

      Memory of the World logo



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