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Great Parchment Book

Daunting task? A series of fire damaged pages from the 17th century Great Parchment Book. Read more below.

At LMA we have a team of skilled and experienced conservators working on a great variety of materials and formats of records. We have the task of conserving and thereby allowing access to most of the items in our collections. We ensure that all our records in the stores are kept under the best environmental conditions.

We ensure that the records are packaged in the most appropriate way using various types of boxes and folders with quality checked materials. Our approach to conservation work is one of minimal intervention, however sometimes we have to do a complete treatment on items that are in urgent need of intervention. We facilitate the process of digitisation of material in our collections by preparing items to be digitised and we support the digitisation team with handling guidelines.

  • We provide best practice guidance to staff and the public on handling documents
  • We provide pre-arranged tours of our studio for professionals, the general public, and also for groups of school children (contact us)
  • We help our colleagues to set up exhibitions by suggesting the best and safest ways to display our items

Exhibitions and loans

The conservators at LMA treat and prepare loans of a wide variety of items to many other public organisations for use in public exhibitions. LMA aims to provide as wide an access to its holdings as possible and therefore welcomes applications from other institutions, both in the United Kingdom and further afield, to borrow items from our collections for exhibition. We are very pleased that awareness of the value of the history and stories revealed within our collections is increasing in recognition for use in this way. At present we have items in major exhibitions at the National Gallery, Tate Britain, Museum of London, The Foundling Museum and in museums in France and the USA.

Projects: The Great Parchment Book

The Great Parchment Book of the Honourable The Irish Society is a major survey, compiled in 1639, of all those estates in Derry managed by the City of London through the Irish Society and the City of London livery companies. It represents a hugely important source for the City of London’s role in the Protestant colonisation and administration of Ulster. Damaged as the result of a fire at Guildhall in 1786, it has been unavailable to researchers for over 200 years. However, the manuscript has remained part of the City of London’s collections held at London Metropolitan Archives (the document reference is: CLA/049/EM/02/018).

From 2010 to 2013, LMA has been engaged in a major conservation, digital reconstruction and online publication project on the Great Parchment Book. You can explore the book for yourself on the dedicated Great Parchment Book website.

In 2013, the virtual reconstruction of the Great Parchment Book featured as the centrepiece of an exhibition in Derry Guildhall - Plantation: Process, People, Perspectives - as part of the commemorations of the 400th anniversary of the building of the city walls.

Tours and events

As well as events and workshops, we run regular behind the scenes tours of the conservation studio, with the chance to see conservation work live. Visit the LMA event feed on Eventbrite to find out what's on.

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Examples of conservation work

Showing 4 results
  1. Box making service at LMA
    The conservation team at London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) can offer a wide range of bespoke boxes and packaging for protecting your collection items. Visit the box making page to find out more
  2. Image showing the Foundling Hospital Conserving a Foundling Hospital prescription book
    Project to conserve items in the Foundling Hospital
  3. Gloves or no gloves?
    To wear gloves or not when handling archive collections? Find out how we do things at LMA, and why
  4. Image showing an archive document from the Normansfield Hospital collection Conserving the Normansfield Hospital Collection
    The archives of the Normansfield Hospital were conserved by LMA
Showing 4 results