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EducationManchester’s oldest surviving archive collection saved by city council

Manchester’s oldest surviving archive collection saved by city council

Greater Manchester’s oldest surviving archive collection has been saved for posterity by Manchester City Council.

The Assheton of Middleton estate archive collection, purchased by Manchester City Council, will now have a permanent home in the Greater Manchester County Record Office at Manchester Central Library.

This will ensure people continue to have access to this outstanding local history collection which sheds light on life in the medieval and early modern era.

Nationally important items relating to the English Civil War, the Middleton Bowmen, the Black Knight, and the royal court of the Plantagenets, as well as unique local history sources recording the local Middleton population can all be found within it.

The purchase of the 1400 items was made possible by generous funding support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, The V&A Purchase Fund, the Friends of the National Libraries and Manchester Central Library Development Trust.

The collection contains some fascinating items including the earliest surviving written document, the 1197 Articles of Agreement which divided lands within the Assheton estate between Roger de Middleton and William de Radcliffe in the Greater Manchester area. It was witnessed by ‘Adam, parson of Middleton’ so it is also the earliest evidence of a church in Middleton.

The Heritage Fund grant, made possible by National Lottery players, will also allow Archives+ to invest in the collection, developing a programme of education and outreach activities aimed at schools and local communities in Middleton, Rochdale, and Manchester.

Early heritage

Councillor John Hacking said: “After many years of hard work behind the scenes, we are immensely pleased to have finally secured the future of this nationally significant archive for the future of Greater Manchester and to be able to give it a permanent home with Greater Manchester County Record Office at Manchester Central Library. This is a fascinating and rich collection of documents showing colourful glimpses into medieval English life and is an important part of Greater Manchester’s early heritage.”

Helen Featherstone, director, England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “We are delighted that, thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, this important collection will now have a permanent home. It is exciting to know that local people will be able to experience the archive and have a glimpse into Greater Manchester’s lesser known but rich medieval history, connecting with the heritage that is right on their doorstep.

“The North of England is the home to fascinating heritage, and we know it is a great way of bringing people together and furthering a sense of pride of place in communities.”


Helen Greaney
Helen Greaney
I'm a journalist with more than 18 years' experience on local, regional and national newspapers, as well as PR and digital marketing. Crime and the courts is my specialist area but I'm also keen to hear your stories concerning Manchester and the greater North West region.
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