Catalogue description Exchequer: Treasury of the Receipt: Indentures Connected with the Foundation of Henry VII's Chantry and Almshouses at Westminster

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Details of E 33
Reference: E 33
Title: Exchequer: Treasury of the Receipt: Indentures Connected with the Foundation of Henry VII's Chantry and Almshouses at Westminster

These indentures relate to the foundation of Henry VII's Chantry and Almshouses at Westminster and were originally housed in the Exchequer Treasury of Receipt.

They were part of the process of founding both the services intended as a perpetual chantry for the well-being and soul of Henry VII (1485-1509), his wife, Elizabeth of York (died 1503), his parents and his children, and an almshouse within the precincts of Westminster, together with scholarships at Oxford.

The commemorative services were to be held at Westminster with services to be held at the two universities, eighteen other religious houses, and at Carmarthen. The series records one part of the king's process of establishing a permanent memorial, together with the building and endowment of a new chapel at Westminster and his gift of copes and other vestments to the abbey.

Date: 1504-c1840

Conservation work in the late 1980s led to a re-arrangement of the documents in a manner designed to safeguard their fragile materials. The quadripartite indentures, formerly E 33/3 - E 33/14 and E 33/17 - E 33/25, were each divided into separately itemised parts according to physical format. The document text, bound within the original boards, became item 1 of each piece. The fabric covers, which had already been removed in the nineteenth century, were conserved, flattened and mounted in such a way as to both provide significant protection and facilitate examination of the reverse of the fabric, as well as of the pile and selvedges. They became initially item 2A of each piece, but are now simply item 2.

The protective paper wrappers in which the documents, covers, bosses and clasps had been enclosed since the mid-nineteenth century, and which document also something of the archival history of each volume, were designated as part 2B of each piece. However, all these paper wrappers were subsequently brought together between boards and sewn within hard covers into a single file, which became E 33/27. The surviving bosses and clasps of each indenture was designated item 3 of the relevant piece.

Most of the seals originally attached to the indentures had, by the nineteenth century, become separated from their parent documents. At the initial assignment of PRO document references they were sub-numbered in a sequence notionally including the seals still attached to the indentures bipartite and septipartite (E 33/1 and E 33/2) as E 33/26/1-65. Many seals retain their original skippets but, in the case of the numerous Westminster and London seals, it is not always possible to relate seal and skippet to the indentures to which they originally belonged.

Separated material:

Parts of the various indentures, are held in the British Library, Department of Western Manuscripts, c1973-, Additional MS 21112, Harleian MS 28 and Harleian MS 1498. Parts of the various indentures, are held in the Cambridge University Library, University Archives, 14th century-. Parts of the various indentures, are held in the Bodleian Library, Department of Western Manuscripts, 1602-, Rawlinson MS C370. Parts of the various indentures, are held in the Oxford University Archives, 1634-, MS WPb/I/1. Parts of the various indentures, are held in the Guildhall Library, Manuscripts Section, 1824-, St Paul's Cathedral Archives. Parts of the various indentures, are held in the Westminster Abbey Muniments and Library, c1590-, WAM 57070-WAM 57082.

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English and Latin
Physical description: 29 boxes and volumes
Physical condition: The volumes retain their contemporary boards and sometimes opulent fabric bindings and covers, and two have magnificent gold bosses and clasps.
Custodial history: Because of their intrinsic value and personal interest to the reigning monarch and his family, these records were transferred to the Treasury of the Receipt of the Exchequer in 1505, for housing in the most secure storage available, in the Chapel of the Pyx, Westminster. They are thought possibly to have been stored there in a standard, or travelling chest, commonly known as Lady Margaret Beaufort's chest: E 27/6 According to an inventory made by Arthur Agarde in 1610, they were still there in 1610, but were later moved with other records and objects in the custody of the Exchequer of the Receipt, to the Chapter House at Westminster, where they remained until the nineteenth century. They were transferred to the Public Record Office in 1856.
Publication note:

Abstracts of the texts of the indentures are in Calendar of Close Rolls 1500-1509 (London, 1963)

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