Shakespeare Documents

19 January 2018

Shakespeare 1 cropped 2 compressedShakespeare Documentary Heritage recognised by UNESCO’s International Memory of the World Programme

The UNESCO International Memory of the World programme has recognised the immense significance to world culture of the ‘Shakespeare Documents’ – the key archival sources for William Shakespeare’s biography. This material now has equivalent status in the documentary sphere as the pyramids have for the world’s built heritage.

The successful nomination was led by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in partnership with The National Archives, Worcestershire Archives and Archaeology Service, the College of Arms, the British Library and London Metropolitan Archives in the UK, and the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C, USA. Together these specialist archive and library repositories care for the precious ‘Shakespeare Documents’.

Their inclusion on the International Memory of the World register recognises the universal cultural and historical value of 90 documents relating to Shakespeare’s baptism, burial, family matters, property records, legal actions and business dealings.

Dr Lynsey Darby of the College of Arms said, “Our archives have for centuries preserved official records of grants and confirmations of coats of arms, as well as records of genealogy and state ceremonial. Among the treasures of this archive are records of the grant of arms made to William Shakespeare’s father John of Stratford upon Avon in 1596. This application for a coat of arms on his father’s behalf shows the value the playwright placed on a visible symbol of his family’s gentry status, and the importance of having this status confirmed by the heralds of the College of Arms. We are delighted that these and other vital Shakespeare documents have been granted this special recognition of their significance.”

Amy Hurst, Collections Archivist at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust said, “The documentary trail left by Shakespeare during his life time provides a rich narrative of his life, giving unique insights into his personal circumstances and how these may have influenced his creative work. We hold 31 of the hand-written documents from Shakespeare’s lifetime that mention him by name and provide a vivid insight into his life as an Elizabethan gentleman and businessman. This material allows audiences to connect with Shakespeare, getting closer to the world’s most celebrated poet and playwright.”

The international registration follows the successful collaboration between the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and The National Archives, since their ‘Shakespeare Documents’ entered the UK UNESCO Memory of the World programme in 2014. This led to a special exhibition to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 2016, and the return of Shakespeare’s will - loaned by The National Archives - to Stratford-upon-Avon for the first time since it was written. “The attention and excitement this generated demonstrated the vibrancy and draw that documentary heritage can have,” said Amy Hurst. “Our mission as a charity is to promote the enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare’s works, life and times. It is tremendously exciting to be working with our international registration partners to open up even more opportunities to promote these documentary treasures and engage with international networks and audiences.”

UNESCO’s International Memory of the World initiative works specifically with documentary heritage - manuscripts, oral traditions, audio-visual materials and publications – that have “universal value” which transcends geographical and cultural boundaries. While the first principal of the programme is to safeguard material, from neglect, disaster or deliberate destruction, the internationally recognised status also opens up funding opportunities for conservation, digitisation, and use of innovative technologies to widen access.

Dr Katy Mair, Head of Early Modern Records at The National Archives, said, “You often hear it said that we don’t know much about Shakespeare; the personality behind the plays. But it is possible to piece together a substantial amount about his life. The Shakespeare documents held by The National Archives form the largest collection of its kind and feature nearly half of all known contemporary references to his life – including four of his six known signatures.

“Our collection provides a priceless perspective on Shakespeare’s life in London. It shows him appearing as a resident in the Elizabethan city, with the documentary trail then charting his rise in fortune, both professional and financial, reaching the heady heights of success at the court of James I and ending with his famous will. Paper and ink analysis of the three-page manuscript conducted in 2016 has forced scholars to reassess many of the assumptions about Shakespeare’s family life and death. He was a canny businessman who revised his will several times during his lifetime to provide for his family.

“We are pleased to see the global significance of these 400-year-old documents being recognised by the UNESCO International Memory of the World Programme.”

Dr Lisa Snook, User Services Manager, Worcestershire Archives and Archaeology Service, said, “Three documents in our collections at The Hive, Worcester, help to tell the story of Shakespeare's personal life in Stratford rather than his literary life. The bond for the marriage of William and Anne, and the subsequent recording of the marriage licence in the Bishop of Worcester's register of 1582 are part of the vast Diocese of Worcester collection. They show the process through which Shakespeare sought to marry, and in turn they reveal much about his circumstances at the time. The will of Thomas Whittington gives a fascinating insight into his personal networks and connections in Stratford, as well as the connections of his wife and her philanthropic work. Thomas names Anne Shakespeare and specifically requests that she distributes money to the poor of Stratford. We are very proud of our Shakespeare connections, and are delighted that the collective documents relating to his work and his life are being recognised in this way.”

William Frame, Head of Modern Archives and Manuscripts at the British Library, “The British Library is delighted that UNESCO has chosen to recognise the importance of these documents. The four British Library documents, which all date from the last 15 years of Shakespeare’s life, shed light on his financial affairs and provide tantalising glimpses of the views that Shakespeare’s contemporaries had of the man and his work. We have digitised all four documents and hope that registration will bring these documents to a wider audience.”

Geoff Pick, Director of London Metropolitan Archives said, “We are very pleased to be part of this listing of Shakespeare documents. Our deed contains one of only six authenticated examples of Shakespeare's signature worldwide and is significant because it relates to the only property he is known to have owned in London. It was conveniently situated on the north bank of the Thames not far from the Blackfriars Theatre and just across the river from the Globe Theatre. The exact location of the property is uncertain, although it is known to have been close to Puddle Wharf and was in an area completely devastated by the Great Fire in 1666. The deed was purchased by the City of London Corporation in 1841 for £145 (Shakespeare paid £140 for the property itself in 1613), and has remained in its archives ever since. It is periodically displayed in the City’s Heritage Gallery and is available digitally via LMA’s online catalogue: https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/london-metropolitan-archives/Pages/search.aspx

Michael Witmore, director of the Folger Shakespeare Library, said, “We are delighted that UNESCO has recognized the importance of these documents, which represent a cultural treasure but also a vital resource for ongoing scholarly work. The fact that these resources – supplied by a number of institutions – have been digitized and are widely available means that a vital part of the documentary record is able to speak to us from centuries past. If libraries are diary of humankind, this group of documents represents one of that story’s most exciting chapters.”

 The documents, held at seven different repositories in the UK and US, can be viewed online on the Shakespeare Documented website (www.shakespearedocumented.org).

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 An Evening with John Blanke at the College of Arms

John Blanke Project
Friday, 1 December 2017 from 18:30 to 20:30 (GMT)
London, United Kingdom

Through the imaginations of artists, poets, historians and musicians, spend an evening celebrating the life of John Blanke, the black trumpeter to the courts of Henry VII and Henry VIII. John Blanke is the first person of African descent for whom we have both an image and a record.

John Blanke’s image appears twice in the 1511 Westminster Tournament Roll in the College of Arms collection. He is noted in the courts accounts of the day as having being paid wages; other records have him successfully petitioning Henry VIII for a wage increase and receiving a gift from the king. These records are held in the National Archives at Kew.

The John Blanke Project is a work in progress which celebrates the life of John Blanke through a variety of media and art forms – writing, drawing, poetry, music, plays. There have to date been over 50 individual contributions

This Symposium is an opportunity to hear about John Blanke and how he has inspired the John Blanke artists' imaginations to make their individual contributions to the project. It will be held at the College of Arms, Queen Victoria Street, London EC4V 4BT.

Tickets for the event can be obtained here

Standard Ticket: £9.08
Concessions Over 60, students, unwaged: £5.90
Under 16s Free
Ticket price includes booking fee

 

Coll Arm Ms Coll Jern 5 p 3Nelson's Chelengk: A new book on the history of the Chelengk presented to Horatio Nelson by Sultan Selim III after the Battle of the Nile in 1798, was published in October 2017. In Nelson's Lost Jewel, the author Martyn Downer describes the story of the exotic diamond jewel: its presentation to Nelson; the admiral's embellishment of it to make it more impressive; its use among his brother’s descendants as a brooch; its sale at auction in 1895; and its theft from the National Maritime Museum in 1951. An important watercolour painting of the lost Chelengk, recently discovered at the College of Arms and illustrated left, has shed much light on the form it took in Nelson’s lifetime. A replica has been made carefully based on the College’s painting. This uses appropriate diamonds cut in the 18th century or earlier and has been put on display to the public at the National Museum of the Royal Navy at Portsmouth.

 

Chester Herald

27 September 2017

By Letters Patent under the Great Seal dated 22 September 2017, Her Majesty The Queen has been pleased to appoint Christopher John Fletcher-Vane, Esquire, (lately Portcullis Pursuivant of Arms) as Chester Herald of Arms, vacant by the promotion of Timothy Hugh Stewart Duke, Esquire, now Norroy and Ulster King of Arms, with effect from 1 July 2014. The appointment is gazetted here.

Following the attack in Barcelona on 17 August 2017, instructions have been received that all buildings of Her Majesty's Government should fly the Union Flag at half-mast today. Other UK national flags flown alongside the Union Flag when it is at half-mast should also be at half-mast. If a flag of a foreign nation is normally flown on the same stand as the Union Flag, it should be removed.

Flags should be raised to full mast after 20:00 this evening 18 August, and before 07:00 tomorrow morning.

Local authorities are not bound by this request but may wish to follow it for guidance. Local authorities and other organisations may follow suit. Devolved administrations are responsible for issuing instructions for the flying of the Union Flag on buildings in their estate and others as necessary.

Jo Cox MPJo Cox, MP: a commemorative shield bearing the Arms of Helen Joanne Cox, late Member of Parliament for Batley and Spen, was unveiled in the House of Commons on 24 June 2017, in the presence of her family, the Speaker of the Commons and other guests including Garter King of Arms. The ceremony was part of the first 'Great Get Together' organized by the Jo Cox Foundation. The Arms were granted to her widower Brendan Cox of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, to be placed on monuments to her memory, by Letters Patent of Garter and Clarenceux Kings of Arms dated 6 March 2017. College reference: Grants 180/149. They are blazoned:

Arms: Barry wavy Vert and Purpure a Chevronel Argent between in chief a White Rose and a Red Rose proper both barbed seeded and slipped the stalks conjoined Or and in base a Red Rose and a White Rose proper both barbed seeded and slipped the stalks conjoined Or.

Motto: MORE IN COMMON

The rationale for the design is as follows: green, violet or purple and white are the colours adopted by the Women's Social and Political Union in 1908, better known as the Suffragettes. The wavy bars of the field are a reference to the country and fields and rivers for which Jo Cox felt an affinity. The chevronel refers to the Lake District and hills where she loved to walk. The white roses refer to Yorkshire of which Jo Cox was a native and where her constituency was situated and the red roses refer both to the Labour Party and to Lancashire which is Brendan Cox's county of origin. The motto expressed Jo Cox's belief that people have more in common than separates them. Brendan Cox and the children were involved in the development of this design.

Learning with sadness of the death of Baldwin Lonsdale, President of the Republic of Vanuatu, who died on 17 June 2017, special instructions have been received that all Union flags on the buildings of Her Majesty's Government should be lowered to half-mast as soon as possible today (19 June 2017) until 2000 hours tomorrow (20 June).

Any other UK national flags flown alongside the Union Flag when it is at half-mast should also be at half-mast. If a flag of a foreign nation is normally flown on the same stand as the Union Flag, it should be removed.

Flags should be raised to full mast no later than 0800 on Wednesday 21 June to mark the State Opening of Parliament.

Local authorities are not bound by this request but may wish to follow it for guidance. Devolved administrations are responsible for issuing instructions for the flying of the Union Flag on buildings in their estate and others as necessary. Enquiries regarding the correct protocols for the flying of Union and other flags should be addressed to the Officer in Waiting at the College of Arms in the first instance.

As a mark of respect for those that were killed and injured in the atttack in Finsbury Park, London, yesterday, all Departments of Her Majesty's Government will lower their Union Flag to half-mast from 1 p.m. this afternoon 19 June 2017. Other UK national flags flown alongside the Union Flag when it is at half-mast should also be at half-mast. If a flag of a foreign nation is normally flown on the same stand as the Union Flag, it should be removed.

If the Armed Forces Flag is being flown, it should be replaced by a Union Flag flown at half-mast.

Local authorities are not bound by this request but may wish to follow it for guidance. Devolved administrations are responsible for issuing instructions for the flying of the Union Flag on buildings in their estate and others as necessary.

As a mark of respect for those that have died and been injured in the fire at Grenfell Tower, Kensington, the Prime Minister has asked that all Departments of Her Majesty's Government lower their Union Flag to half-mast from 07:00 this morning Friday 16 June 2017.

Any other UK national flags flown alongside the Union Flag when it is at half-mast should also be at half-mast. If a flag of a foreign nation is normally flown on the same stand as the Union Flag, it should be removed.

Flags will be raised to full mast no earlier than 20:00 today, but before 08:00 on Saturday 17 June.

Local authorities are not bound by this request but may wish to follow it for guidance. Devolved administrations are responsible for issuing instructions for the flying of the Union Flag on buildings in their estate and others as necessary.

Following the attack at London Bridge in the evening of 3 June, instructions have been received that all buildings of Her Majesty's Government should fly the Union Flag at half-mast from 0700 today 4 June 2017. Other UK national flags flown alongside the Union Flag when it is at half-mast should also be at half-mast. If a flag of a foreign nation is normally flown on the same stand as the Union Flag, it should be removed.

A minute's silence will be held at all UK Government Buildings on Tuesday 6 June at 1100. Others may follow suit.

Flags should remain at half-mast until at least 2000 on Tuesday 6 June and be raised to full mast before 0800 on Wednesday 7 June.

Local authorities are not bound by this request but may wish to follow it for guidance. Devolved administrations are responsible for issuing instructions for the flying of the Union Flag on buildings in their estate and others as necessary.

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