On 21 June 2016, at an awards ceremony at the Senedd in Cardiff, eight items and collections joined the UK Memory of the World Register, a list of documentary and audio visual heritage which holds cultural significance specific to the UK. These inscriptions are:
Further Info: Canterbury Cathedral
The medieval archive of Canterbury Cathedral complements the Cathedral’s built heritage, which has gained recognition as of world importance, being part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The medieval archive dates from the 9th century to 1540, and has been cared for by the Cathedral for centuries. The archive helps to tell the story of the Cathedral, its monastery, its buildings, its work and its people. Amounting to some 17,000 items, it is one of the most extensive monastic archives in the UK. There are other strong monastic collections in the UK; however, parts of the Canterbury Cathedral archive are undoubtedly the most significant of their type. Canterbury Cathedral is the oldest cathedral foundation in the UK, having been founded in 597. The Anglo-Saxon documents in the archive are older than any of the cathedral buildings visible today. Canterbury Cathedral, as the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the leader of the Church of England, has had a particular role to play in national affairs. It was also a major pilgrimage destination. The Cathedral and its priory had influence well beyond Canterbury, Kent and England. The importance of the place is reflected in its archive.
Further Info: LSE Library
Charles Booth’s Inquiry into the Life and Labour of the People in London, undertaken between 1886 and 1903, originated in the profound unease about poverty that came to a head in the 1880s, when acute economic problems heightened long-standing social tensions. Booth set out to remedy what he felt was a lack of facts about poverty, by investigating and documenting ‘the condition and occupations of the inhabitants of London’. Booth’s Inquiry profoundly influenced the public debate around poverty and social policy in the decades that followed. Combining panoramic scope and scale with an extraordinary level of detail, the archive of the Inquiry reveals the living and working conditions of the inhabitants of what was then the largest city in the world. Over 450 volumes of interviews, questionnaires, observations and statistical information document the social and economic life of London, highlighting all of its contrasts, complexities and contradictions. The archive also takes us ‘behind the scenes’ of the Inquiry itself, showing Booth and his research team developing new methodologies and techniques in what is now recognised as a key milestone in the development of social research techniques.
Further Info: Exeter Cathedral
The Exeter Book is an anthology of poetry in Old English, written down around 970 CE, and is one of only four surviving major poetic manuscripts in that vernacular. Since it is the largest and probably the oldest of them, and since its contents are not found in any other manuscript, it can claim to be the foundation volume of English literature, one of the world’s principal cultural artefacts. The book has been in Exeter since at least the 11th century and belonged to Exeter’s first bishop, Leofric. It comprises some 40 poems of different lengths, types and ages, and nearly 100 poetic riddles (i.e. virtually all those which survive in Old English). The other poems include saints’ lives, Advent lyrics, allegories, improving maxims and poems based on Biblical concepts, with a few more or less secular poems. The elegies in the Exeter Book, such as the Wanderer and Seafarer, are among its best known compositions, and, like some of the others, achieve considerable distinction not only for their antiquity but for their quality as poetry. The Exeter Book has been and continues to be a source of inspiration, not least to scholars, musicians and other poets.
Type of heritage: Document
Date of inscription: 2016
Nominating institution: National Records of Scotland
Further info: National Records of Scotland
The Declaration of Arbroath, dated 6 April 1320 [hereafter called “The Declaration”], is widely seen as Scotland’s most iconic document. It is regarded as the key Scottish document from the Wars of Independence when the Scots attempted to re-affirm the independence of the kingdom of Scotland against English claims to overlordship. The Declaration was an appeal for support from the pope and, while not bringing a swift resolution to the conflict between the two countries, it marked a clear turning point. Pope John XXII urged reconciliation, leading to a truce in 1323, and then the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton of March 1328. This Treaty was designed to effect ‘a final and perpetual
peace’: Scottish independence was recognised as was Robert I as king of Scots. The Declaration’s stirring language, and its evocative sentiments of nationhood and freedom, have given it a special distinction over the centuries since then, not just in Scotland but worldwide.
Further Info: Royal Institution
Michael Faraday (1791-1867) is one of the most significant and famous scientific figures who ever lived and worked on these islands. Equivalent to Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Maxwell or Einstein (the latter two greatly admired and expanded Faraday’s electro-magnetic field theory), Faraday radically transformed our understanding of the world. His discoveries of electro-magnetic rotations and induction paved the way for engineering applications of electricity, such as the motor, transformer and generator which fundamentally and permanently altered technological practice. Faraday recorded making these and many others discoveries, mostly in the basement laboratory of the Royal Institution, in a set of ten meticulously kept laboratory notebooks that are the subject of this nomination. Born the son of a dissenting blacksmith, Faraday could not go to university, but instead trained as a bookbinder. Following a complex and highly contingent set of events in 1813 he became laboratory assistant to the Royal Institution. His subsequent discoveries in physics and chemistry contributed to his rise within the Royal Institution to become Fullerian Professor of Chemistry in 1833. His entire career was spent in the Royal Institution which contributed to his becoming one of the most famous men of the day.
Further Info: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London Corporation
The Great Parchment Book of The Honourable The Irish Society is a major survey, compiled in 1639 by a Commission instituted under the Great Seal by Charles I, of all the estates in Derry managed by the City of London Corporation through the Irish Society and City of London livery companies. It represents a hugely important source for James I’s policy of settling or ‘planting’ Ulster with English and Scottish Protestants, a policy which the City and livery companies were reluctantly compelled to administer. Given the paucity of archival records for early modern Ireland, the manuscript contains key data about landholding and population in Ulster at this time, not only for the English and Scottish settlers, but also for the native Irish, as well as information about the relationship with London and central government. This Domesday of the Ulster Plantation documents a significant period in the history of Northern Ireland and still has resonance today. The Great Parchment Book is also notable for being badly damaged in a fire in 1786 which led to it being unavailable to researchers for over 200 years. It is now accessible once more via a dedicated website (www.greatparchmentbook.org) following a ground-breaking digital reconstruction project.
Further Info: Co-operative Heritage Trust
The Robert Owen Collection consists of 3000 manuscript letters to and from Owen covering the period 1821-1858. Owen was key in developing the ideas of co-operation that are the basis of the worldwide co-operative movement, which today boasts over 860 million members. The correspondence detail these ideas and highlight the beginnings of the movement. The letters also give an insight into Owen’s involvement with the chartist movement and various labour movements both in the UK and abroad. Robert Owen pioneered ideas well before their time including fair working conditions, education for workers, reduction in working hours and sick pay. The correspondence details the development of these ideas and are some of the earliest examples of his revolutionary ideas. Owen was a pioneer of model, utopian communities in Scotland and America, a subject which features highly in his correspondence, with many of his followers writing to him on this subject.
Further Info: National Library of Wales
The Survey of the Manors of Crickhowell and Tretower, created by Robert Johnson in 1587, was produced ostensibly as a tool for managing part of the estates of the Earl of Worcester, but also as a manifestation of the power of the landowner. Like many other such estate surveys of the period it includes a textual description of the estate, its extent, its properties and tenants; unlike most other surveys this survey also includes a set of maps produced as part of the survey. This is the earliest example of a grand estate atlas designed as a coherent volume of decorative estate maps; earlier compilations usually comprised disparate maps bound together. All the maps in this volume were made by Robert Johnson at the same time and to the same standard, using a single scale and symbology. The creation of maps as an integral part of an estate survey did not become common practice for another two centuries as such this survey is ground-breaking in its approach and the precursor to all those later surveys.