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Deed of Shakespeares Blackfriars property

Deed of Shakespeares Blackfriars property

London Metropolitan Archives helps usher the Shakespeare documents onto the World Stage

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’. The documents, held at these seven different repositories in the UK and US, can be viewed online on the Shakespeare Documented website.

Their inclusion on the UNESCO 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.

The 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. The internationally recognised status opens up funding opportunities for conservation, digitisation, and use of innovative technologies to widen access.

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 will be displayed in the City’s Heritage Gallery in 2019 and the Shakespeare deed is available digitally via LMA’s online catalogue.

Find out more about the Shakespeare deed here.

UK Memory of the World Register

LMA also has four items inscribed to the UK Memory of the World Register: Charter of William I to the City of London, London County Council Bomb Damage Maps, Robert Hooke’s Diary and the Great Parchment Book. This is more than any other local authority archive service and together with the International recognition of the Shakespeare deed demonstrates the importance of the History of London collections held by LMA which, along with the printed collections at Guildhall Library, are also Designated as Outstanding by the Arts Council England.

25 January 2018
Last Modified:
16 September 2019