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Library & research

Muniment collection

Our archive, or muniment collection, is one of the oldest and richest in England. The documents we hold there include the records of Westminster Abbey from the tenth century to the present day.

The Muniment Room

At the centre of the collection, we have records of the land the Abbey held until the late 19th century. Our extensive estate was scattered widely across southern England and The Midlands. We also have the financial records of various administrative monastery officials – such as the Almoner and Cellarer – up to 1540, and the Steward and Treasurer from 1560.

Other documents in the muniments include royal charters, minutes of Chapter meetings, leases of Abbey property (lease books from 1486), some records of coronations and funerals, letters (including a large collection of Dean Pearce’s correspondence), tradesmen’s bills, Hebrew documents, and coroners’ inquests for the City of Westminster 1760–1880.

Other places to find documents

Any documents said to have been in the Chapter House at Westminster in older publications will now be at The National Archives. The Chapter House was a repository for state archives until its restoration in the 1860s.

Most of the records relating to coronations will be among the Earl Marshal papers in The National Archives.

More to read about the muniments

For general information on the archives, see:

Richard Mortimer, Guide to the Muniments of Westminster Abbey, 2012.

Lawrence E Tanner, ‘The nature and use of the Westminster Abbey Muniments’ in Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 19 (1936), p.43-80.

Barbara Harvey, Westminster Abbey and its Estates in the Middle Ages, 1977.

These books show parts of the collection:

Emma Mason, Westminster Abbey Charters 1066-c.1214, London Record Society 25 (1988).

Barbara Harvey, Documents Illustrating the Rule of Walter de Wenlok, Abbot of Westminster, 1283-1307, Camden 4th series 2 (1965).

M D Davis, Hebrew Deeds of English Jews before 1290 (London, 1888).

Monumenta Palaeographica Medii Aevi...Hebrew and Hebrew-Latin documents from medieval England, 2 vols, 2015. (Volume 1 deals with the Abbey collection).

Anne Causton, Medieval Jewish documents in Westminster Abbey, Jewish Historical Society of England, 2007.

G R Elvey, Luffield Priory Charters, 2 vols.[Muniment Book 10], Buckinghamshire & Northamptonshire Record Society 1968, 1975.

Richard Mortimer (ed.), Charters of St Bartholomew's Priory, Sudbury [Suffolk], Boydell Press, 1996.

A P Thornton, The Modyfords and Morgan. Letters from Sir James Modyford on the affairs of Jamaica 1667-1672 in the Muniments of Westminster Abbey in Jamaican Historical Review, Oct 1952. (The Sir Andrew King collection including narratives by Admiral Henry Morgan.)

Revd F T Wethered, St Mary's Hurley in the Middle Ages based on charters and deeds, 1898.

You can also find records online:

Coroners' inquests

For inquests covering 1760–1799 only, visit London Lives.

(Lists for inquests 1800–1880 are in our library. A small bundle of Middlesex inquisitions December 1783–June 1784 are in our muniment collection.)

Manor and Court rolls

A list of the records is held at The National Archives (NRA 41148). You can find information from the list on Discovery. (Please note this list is now a little out of date; we have an annotated and updated list in our library.)

St Margaret Westminster parish registers

All are available on Find My Past.

Denizens Roll

For the names on the 164-feet-long Denizens Roll 1544 (WAM 12261), see the England’s Immigrants Database. (Please note that this website database does not record wives or children mentioned on the original, but is easy to check initially for names.)

You can find a facsimile of the publication ‘Letters of denization...in England 1509-1603’ by William Page, with full information on entries, on the Wayback Machine.

Church of England clergy

See the Clergy of the Church of England Database.

Contact us

Westminster Abbey Library
East Cloister
London
SW1P 3PA

[email protected]

+44 (0)20 7654 4830

It’s very hard not to be enthusiastic working at the Abbey. If this place doesn’t make you smile I don’t know what will.

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Valerie - Foundation Director

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