Henry III manuscripts go on display in the Galleries

Thursday, 3rd October 2019

Henry III manuscripts go on display in the Galleries

Two precious 13th century manuscripts from the Abbey Collection go on display in the Abbey’s Galleries today as part of celebrations to mark the 750th anniversary of Henry III’s rebuilding of Edward the Confessor’s church.

Thought never to have been displayed before to the public, the manuscripts from Henry III's reign (1216-1272) reveal the king's wishes about where he should be buried and his struggles with money.

They are typical of royal documents at the time: tightly written ink script on vellum (calf skin) with impressive wax seals on silk cords.

In a royal charter dated 1246, Henry announces he has chosen Westminster Abbey as his future burial place. He makes clear it is because he wants to be buried alongside Edward the Confessor (1042-1066) to whom he was devoted. Henry’s orders for his burial next to Edward did much to establish the Abbey as the final resting place of kings and queens of England for centuries to come.

An inventory of St Edward the Confessor's Shrine drawn up in 1267 lists the huge amount of gold, precious stones and jewels taken from the shrine to be pawned by the king who was in desperate need of money. It included a promise to restore them before the rededication of the Abbey two years later.  

They will be on display in the Galleries until 28th October.

Other events to mark the 750th anniversary include family tours, a family dayspecial late tours and a photography evening.