Who is eligible to apply?

1. Record offices, libraries and other similar publicly funded institutions including local authority, university and specialist record repositories, and

2. Owners of manuscript material which is conditionally exempt from capital taxation or owned by a charitable trust provided that:

  • reasonable access is allowed to members of the public

  • suitable storage conditions are available

  • there is a firm commitment to continuing good preservation practice

  • assurances are given for the reimbursement of the grant in the event of subsequent disposal of the material for which it has been made.

Applications cannot be accepted from institutions directly funded by the government. The custodian of a deposited collection may apply for funding jointly with the owner.

What material is eligible for grant aid?

Manuscripts, documents or archives which are:

  • the property of the applicant or required by law to be deposited on loan with the applicant (e.g. parish records under the Parochial Records and Records Measure 1978) and

  • of national importance or significance and thus deserving special conservation treatment beyond the applicant's normal resources.

What is not eligible?

The following types of material are not eligible:

  • Public records within the meaning of the Public Records Acts

  • the official archives of the institution or authority applying for a grant (older records, particularly if they are unusual or unique survivals, may however qualify for consideration)

  • loan collections falling outside the terms of point 2 above (in the Who is Eligible section)

  • photographic material

  • audio-visual material

  • printed material

The Trustees are prepared to be flexible and each application is considered on its own merits.

If you are unsure whether a collection falls within our remit is encouraged to contact the Secretary, Nell Hoare, for further advice and an informal discussion.

How much grant aid is available?

The NMCT has secured generous funding from from a number of organisations so we now have more funds to give in grants each year. In 2010 the Trustees were able to award under £70,000 in grants; in 2016 that figure was over £150,000.  Despite the extra money, total grant applications still significantly exceed our available funds.

The majority of our grants are between £2,000 and £10,000; in recent years up to 25% of grants have been for sums greater than £10,000, the largest being £25,000. Your case for funding will be stronger if you can show that you have secured some funds towards the project, either from your own budgets or from other external funders.

What costs will grants cover?

  • Grants will be made towards the cost of repair, binding and other preservation measures, including reprography.
  • Grants may cover the cost of conservation by commercial conservation studios or the salaries and related expenses of staff or interns specially employed for the project and expendable materials required for the project.  Where a senior member of existing staff will carry out the conservation, institutions can apply for funds to backfill their role for the duration of the conservation project.
  • VAT on project costs may be included in the grant if the applicant is unable to reclaim VAT.

The Trustees expect the conservators working on projects which it grant aids to be Accredited and, if they are in private practice, to be on the Conservation Register

What costs will grants not cover?

  • Grants are not intended to cover capital costs or equipment.
  • Grants towards the cost of arranging and listing manuscripts will normally only be available for making inventories or summary lists as the first stage in conservation.
  • Where digitisation is primarily to increase access to manuscripts it will not be covered by our grants; if it the manuscript is being digitised for preservation purposes then the cost can be included.

Some examples of the grants awarded by the NMCT are given in Past Grants and in the Trust's Annual Reports, which can be downloaded from the Charity Commission website.

How are grant applications assessed?

Before making decisions on grant awards, the Trustees take advice from experts in The National Archives and from other specialist bodies as appropriate, such as the British Library, the National Libraries of Wales or Scotland and others. This advice will cover the importance of the material involved; the appropriateness of the application and of the proposed conservation treatment and the conditions under which the material will be kept and used. This process may involve a visit to inspect the material and to discuss your insitution's strategy for its archives.

How is grant payment made?

The Trust's grants are normally paid by cheque in two equal instalments: 50% when the grant is awarded and the applicant has confirmed agreement to any grant conditions, and 50% when the project is complete and the Trustees have received a satisfactory final report. Grantees can download the NMCT's final report form here:


Grant Conditions

All grants awarded by the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust (Registered Charity no. 802796) are subject to the following general conditions:

1. Any archive or manuscript conserved with the help of a grant from the NMCT must not be sold, pledged, charged or otherwise disposed of.  If this is being considered NMCT must be informed in advance.

The recipient of the grant and/or the owner (where different) must give the NMCT not less than 60 days prior notice of its wish to sell or otherwise dispose of any archive or manuscript conserved in any manner with the help of a grant from the NMCT. If the NMCT-assisted object is disposed of with the consent of the NMCT, the grant recipient and/or owner acknowledge that the NMCT may exercise its right to receive from them an amount in cash equal to our grant or 10% (ten per cent) of the proceeds of the sale, whichever is the greater.

2. Any works proposed in future which materially affect the item/collection that is the subject of a grant must be submitted to us before the work begins.

3. The Trustees or their representatives may inspect the manuscripts in question at any stage from the submission of the application to the completion of the conservation work.

4. Awards from the Trust must be spent solely on the programme of work approved by the Trustees. Any proposed departure from the approved project must be referred to the Trust for prior approval. Any part of the grant that is not required for the approved purpose is to be refunded to the Trust.

5. Grants may be awarded for up to 100% of the project cost, though pressure on grant funds means that the grant will usually be a smaller proportion of the total cost, particularly with larger projects.

6. In the event that the cost of the project is less than stated in the original application, the final instalment will be reduced accordingly to ensure the NMCT’s grant does not exceed the percentage originally awarded and to free up funds to enable other projects to be supported.

7. Grants will normally be paid in two equal instalments: 50% when the grant is awarded and the applicant has confirmed agreement to NMCT's grant conditions, and 50% when the project is complete and the Trustees have received a satisfactory final report.

8. If the conservation project is not completed within five years then, depending on the particular reasons for the delay, the NMCT has the power to rescind its award. This may include cancellation of the second 50% of the grant and even repayment by the Beneficiary to the NMCT of the first 50%.

9. Payment of the final 50% of the grant will only be made on receipt of a satisfactory final report using the NMCT’s final report form (downloadable from NMCT website). Reports must be submitted to the Secretary by email (contact details below).

10. The NMCT’s grant should be acknowledged in any exhibition and publicity material (including social media, websites, blogs and newsletters) in connection with the project. 

11. Whenever possible, copies of before, after and in progress photographs should be provided to illustrate how an award has been used. These photographs may be used in future NMCT publicity material.

Additional conditions may be applied on individual project. Any such conditions would be set out in the grant offer letter.  If the NMCT’s conditions of grant are not complied with the Trust reserves the right to cancel the offer of grant, or to claim repayment of the grant if already paid.

Click on the link for a downloadable pdf for our grant conditions:


Acknowledgement of grant aid

The Trustees encourage all successful applicants to publicise their projects and the NMCT's support – in displays, websites, social media, blogs, newsletters and through the media as appropriate – this helps raise awareness to the Trust and the support that it offers.