The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 21 The Inns of Court and Legal London

Record Office Museum

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The space formerly occupied by the Rolls Chapel is now assigned to the �Record Office Museum (open free, 2-4; closed on Saturday and Sunday; catalogue 1/; 1925). Three of the monuments to Masters of the Rolls, erected in the old chapel, are still in their original positions on the north wall; viz. that of Richard Alington (died 1561), that of Lord Bruce of Kinloss (died 1611), and that of Dr. John Yonge (died 1516), an admirable work by Torrigiano. Two stones found at the back of the last, with carved wings of angels, are apparently spoiled fragments of Torrigiano's work in the chapel of Henry VII. In the south-west corner is a statue of George I., from the old Rolls Court. The heraldic glass in the windows commemorates Masters of the Rolls from the close of the reign of Edward III. and other officials. The most important object in the museum is Domesday Book (2 vellum volumes; central table), containing the results of the statistical survey of England made by order of William the Conqueror in 1086. The so-called Domesday Chest, with its triple lock, is likewise shown. The glass-cases contain a remarkable series of interesting and valuable documents and records. Case A. 15. Letter of circa 1220, interesting as one of the earliest extant examples of the use of paper in Europe. Case B. 25. Letters patent of John Balliol, signifying that he had sworn fealty to Edward I., as suzerain of Scotland (1292). Case C. 39. Black Book of the Exchequer, with a perpetual calendar (circa 1250). Case D. Rolls of pleas, with illuminated initials containing portraits of kings. Case E 49. Receipt book of the reign of Henry VII., with the royal sign-manual to each entry (1489-95). Case F. Treaties between Henry VIII. and Francis I. of France. Case G. 67. Plan of the Kirk o� Field, to illustrate the murder of Lord Darnley. Case H. 75. Roll showing distinctive marks upon the bills of swans (1497-1515); 98. Wooden tallies used in keeping accounts. Case I. 103-105. Letters of Nelson (103 one of the last he wrote before, 104 one of the first after, losing his right arm); 106. Log of the �Victory,� recording the battle of Trafalgar; 109. Despatch concerning the battle of Waterloo, with Wellington's signature. Cases K, L. Treaties, etc. (No. 115 signed by Cortes). Case M. 126. Petition to George III. from Congress (1775), with the signatures of John Adams, Stephen Hopkins, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, etc.; 127. Letter from Washington to his �great and good friend,� George III. (1795). On the pedestal-stand is a collection of autographs from William of Wykeham (1366; No. 1) and Chaucer (1389; No. 3) down to the Duke of Marlborough (1704; No. 105), and Queen Marie Antoinette (1790; No. 109). Richard II.'s (No. 4) is the earliest royal autograph. Also, 60. Anonymous letter to Lord Monteagle, warning him of the Gunpowder Plot (1605); 61 and 63. Signatures of Guy Fawkes (Guido Faukes), the latter supposed to have been written after torture. Supplementary Case. 1. Protocol guaranteeing the neutrality of Belgium (1839; the �scrap of paper'); 3. Black book of the Admiralty (15th century maritime laws), recently rediscovered; 6. Abbreviated signature of Shakespeare; 8. Letter from Byron, with copy signed by Shelley, Trelawny, and himself (1822). Temporary Case. Exhibits of topical interest, changed from time to time. Frame south Bull of Pope Clement VII. (1524), confirming Henry VIII. in the title of �Defender of the Faith� (with golden bulla by Benvenuto Cellini). Frame west Account of money received and spent in Ireland in 1649-56, with portrait of Cromwell. Among other documents of interest are early copies of the Book of Common Prayer, Royal Wills, Patent and Pipe Rolls, and much material relating to American history.