The UK Memory of the World Register was set up by UNESCO in 2010. It aims to record items or collections of outstanding documentary heritage held within the UK and bring them to wider public knowledge and recognition. The entries on the register are for archives of exceptional historical importance which are of national significance.
The Register currently has just under 50 items / collections on it and three of these are held by London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) for the City of London.
The Charter of William I to the City of London is the oldest archive held by the City of London. Written soon after the Norman Conquest in early 1067, it is believed to be the earliest guarantee of collective rights of the inhabitants of a town or city by a monarch.
The letter is written in Old English (significantly not in William I’s native Norman French). It says, in modern English:
“William the king, friendly salutes William the bishop and Godfrey the portreeve and all the burgesses within London both French and English. And I declare that I grant you to be all law-worthy, as you were in the days of King Edward; And I grant that every child shall be his father’s heir, after his father’s days; And I will not suffer any person to do you wrong; God keep you”
London County Council Bomb Damage Maps
During the Second World War the London County Council (LCC) Architects Department began a survey of the inner London area to map damage caused by enemy action between 1940 and1945. Printed OS maps were used and annotated with a colour coded key to illustrate degrees of bomb damage. The effects of the V1 and V2 rockets launched against London in 1944-45 are also plotted.
The 112 maps cover the 117 square miles of the former County of London. They are important on many levels: as a post-war tool for the planners and builders who reconstructed the capital; as a research aid and as a visual record of the destruction and now in the twenty-first century showing London as an iconic symbol of resilience in the face of overwhelming adversity. The maps are part of the LCC archive which is now owned by the City of London on behalf of London and the nation.
Robert Hooke Diary
Robert Hooke’s major contribution to 17th century scientific research and London architecture is clearly revealed in his Diary. Kept as a memorandum book to remind him of the many places he had been and people he had met each day, along with his pithy thoughts and observations about scientific research and the world around him, the Diary offers an unparalleled glimpse into the exciting and vibrant world of Restoration scientific discovery and the rebuilding of London from the ashes of the Great Fire.
Hooke did not intend his Diary to be read by anyone else, so he could be candid in his observations about himself and his contemporaries. The Diary shows a man striving to be open and honest with himself. He found his body and habits to be worthy of investigation and research, so he noted his symptoms and the experimental, sometimes dangerous, medicines he self-administered.
Famed for his irascibility and scientific rows, the evidence of the Diary suggests he was often both gregarious (with many evenings in taverns and coffee houses recorded) and collaborative - working closely and amiably with many colleagues, especially Sir Christopher Wren. At other times he confided in the Diary his bitter feelings towards scientists whom he believed had stolen his ideas and inventions or deliberately under represented his achievements and contribution. Entries in the Diary have allowed historians to cast light on to these painful rows and also to investigate the diverse lines of enquiry he was pursuing in many different fields of knowledge.
You can find out more about the UK Memory of the world register and other treasures held by the City of London on the London Metropolitan Archives pages.
Some of the treasures themselves can be seen at the Guildhall in the City of London Heritage Gallery.