King's College estates records

A project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

A document and seal

Charter relating to an exchange of land in St James Priory, Exeter. Late 12th century

Welcome to the King's College estates records project website. From here you can see images of documents from the collections, follow links to the estates catalogue at JANUS, or view and download copies of the estate catalogues organised by manor or county.

Please note that the catalogues are being constantly updated. The Janus links will take you to the most currently published catalogues, but over time the Word versions will become less current. This particularly applies to Ruislip and London properties. If you have any queries please contact archivist@kings.cam.ac.uk.

Introduction to the project

Henry VI seal

Great Seal of King Henry VI, 1448. Ref: ISL/3

(Read the complete article in Word format)

King's College Archive Centre is fortunate enough to have received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to improve access to the College's estates records.

This fascinating collection documents a vital part of the College's history, including records of estates in England given to the College by Henry VI following its foundation in 1441, many of which were the lands of the so-called alien priories, the dependencies in England of foreign religious houses such as the Norman Abbey of Bec, confiscated by the Crown in 1414.

These lands brought their written memory with them in the form of charters and court records, in some cases going back to the 11th century. Researchers investigating early manorial governance, religious houses, farming practices, genealogy, and alterations to land boundaries or properties, will find evidence in such records as court rolls, accounts, maps, tenancy agreements, and leases. There is also an impressive range of royal documents among the records, with a number of fine examples of Great Seals from Stephen through to Victoria.

The estates records cover a total of 189 estates in 30 counties ranging west to St Michael's Mount in Cornwall, east to Toft Monks in Norfolk, north to Allerton Mauleverer in Yorkshire, and south to Hooe in Sussex, all documenting ecclesiastical and secular communities from the Middle Ages to the present day.

Henry VIII portrait

Portrait Illumination from a Letters Patent of King Henry VIII, 1536. Ref: CAM/49

The catalogue was drawn up using the index cards and original structure completed by Dr Michael Stansfield in 1987-8.

The project archivist has now converted the original card index into an ISAD(G)-compliant database, and a searchable on-line version has been launched on Janus, the webserver for online catalogues of Cambridge archival and manuscript collections. There are links to the JANUS catalogue from the county pages and browsable estates list.

The catalogues have been published at Access to Archives and the Archives Hub.

Outreach activities were organised throughout the project, and included in-house exhibitions for local history groups, articles for history and genealogy society newsletters and journals and a Day School for MA Local History students. A set of display boards were designed, giving information about the project and exhibiting facsimiles of documents from the Estates Records, and toured relevant county record offices and public libraries as a travelling exhibition. A hard copy of the relevant volume of the catalogue should also be available in your local County Record Office.

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