Lacock Abbey Archive

Item date: 12th to 20th centuries
Grant Value: £8,300
Item cost: £42,000
Item date acquired: 2013
Item institution: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre
Town/City: Chippenham
County: Wiltshire

The Lacock Abbey Archive was on deposit at the Wiltshire and Swindon Archives, but the owner wished to sell the collection. It is a large estate archive of outstanding local, national and international importance and was in danger of being broken up had it not been purchased by the Archive Service.

Lacock Abbey was founded in 1230 by Ela, daughter of William, Earl of Salisbury, and wife of William Longespée, a natural son of Henry II. Today the Lacock estate includes a preserved village owned by the National Trust. Within the archive is a grant dated 1237 from Henry III of a fair at Lacock and other thirteenth century deeds. There are also two charters of Edward II and letters patent of Edward III, Henry VI and Edward IV.

The collection contains some fine Tudor records, notably for Sir William Sharington (1495-1553), who purchased the Abbey at the Dissolution. Manorial records date from 1431 to 1885, while estate surveys begin with a 1548 survey by Stephen Cole and include others from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. There is an especially good 1764 map of Lacock by John Overton.

In 1944 Matilda Talbot gave the Lacock Abbey estate (including most of the village) to the National Trust, preserving it for the nation. The Archive descended to her legatees. The main body of the Archive was deposited with Wiltshire and Swindon Archives in 1991 and 2005 (accession number 2664) with further deposits in 2008 and 2009 (accession number 3673).