Image demonstrating Manorial Documents Register granted bid

Manorial Documents Register granted bid

Work on a comprehensive register of details about hundreds of ‘Manors’ in Northumberland launched last year by Northumberland Archives has resulted in a grant of £73k by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The Manorial Documents Register for Northumberland was part of a national project, and Northumberland Archives completed the revision in September 2018. A bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund was then submitted, and has since been successfully granted. 

This grant will allow Northumberland Archives, which is part of Northumberland County Council, to train and work with volunteers to transcribe manorial documents and develop community based activities, run workshops and talks across the county, develop an exhibition and a series of guides, digitise core documents and promote work through project blogs and social media, as well as working on a project with Whitley Chapel First School.

The manorial system began in the 11th century and provided a framework for the lives of much of the rural population of England. The Lord of the Manor had the right to hold a court for his local tenants to facilitate management of the manor as a social and economic unit. 

The court business was recorded on the court roll and early manorial courts used pieces of parchment which were stitched together to form the roll. Many other manorial documents were produced which have been identified and recorded during this project.

Records date from the 13th century and contain information on family and social change, industrial and agricultural development, local government, land ownership, crime, housing and property. 

Northumberland had 396 manors and 39 baronies and records have been documented for 274 of these.  The Register remains open so that newly discovered documents can continue to be added.

Cllr Cath Homer, cabinet member for culture, arts, leisure and tourism at Northumberland County Council said:  “The launch of the register for Northumberland is the culmination of three years of work by Northumberland Archives staff, and has led to the discovery of many fascinating and previously unknown records

“The register holds a wealth of information on social and urban development, business, family names, land and property ownership, finance, diet, agriculture and even crime, from medieval times to the twentieth century.

“These will be of interest to many people from academics to private researchers, which is why we have invited people from a number of areas, including Universities and community history groups to the launch. 

“It is fantastic news that Northumberland Archives has been granted funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to support an outreach project that would involve workshops, volunteer transcription, social media, a travelling exhibition and school activities.

“We are very keen to promote these collections and increase awareness of the manorial records as an important resource for the history of the people and communities of Northumberland.”

The register is fully accessible online on The National Archives Discovery site  at as well as in a catalogue at Northumberland Archives, where a dedicated manorial space is planned in the searchroom. 

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