Conservation of the Manor Court Rolls of Conisbrough
On deposit with Doncaster Archives since 1982, the Manor Court Rolls of Conisbrough were purchased by Doncaster Council in 2017 thanks to the generosity of the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Friends of the National Libraries. Spanning the years 1265-1935, and made up of 151 parchment rolls and 15 parchment and paper volumes, these records shed light on the lives of the ordinary inhabitants of 28 South Yorkshire townships until the 1340s, and of 16 townships thereafter.
They represent an unparalleled educational and research resource, as well as an opportunity to engage volunteers to work on their transcription and translation. They also offer eye-catching promotional material for an impending re-launch of Doncaster’s Heritage Services. If they are to be made as accessible as possible the parchment rolls first need to be conserved and flattened, after which they will be digitised.
Antony Oliver, of Sheffield Archives, is carrying out this first phase of work on a selection of the manor court rolls. Much depends on the size and condition of the rolls, but it is hoped that the conservation of eight rolls sufficient to permit digitisation is a realistic possibility.
The conservator is working on rolls of 1345-6 (allowing a comparison with the post-Black Death roll already online), 1440-1 (from the same year as a surviving rental), 1469-70 (when the then lord of the manor, Edward IV, faced a crisis), and 1491-2, 1496-7, 1518-19, 1519-20, and 1520-21, from the thus far neglected reigns of the first two Tudor monarchs. Once conserved and digitised, the rolls will be re-tied and re-rolled.