It’s my first experience of using local archives. I’ve checked out the collection online beforehand and reserved everything from the medieval period. One advantage of researching such an early period is that the records aren’t too extensive. I call up everything prior to 1536 and think I have time to look at it all in one visit.
I’m excited about seeing original manuscripts and I’m also looking for something in particular. At the beginning of my residency I found a handwritten note in an archive box referring to, “Fig 1. Diagram of Priory Precinct, Close and Village c. 1340 reconstructed using the Rental, c.mings of 1724, tithe map of 1839-41, the first 3 edition maps and the royal commission survey in the NMR”, but no diagram to go with it. I find this in the first archive file I open. It is a diagram from a paper written by Neil S Rushden and C K Currie entitled “Land Management and Custumal Diversity on the Estates of Mottisfont Priory in the 1340s”, which uses data from the Mottisfont Rental to analyse the management of the estate lands. This picture is the closest thing we have to a map of the priory during the monastic period and, as it is based on primary evidence, it feels like it has some veracity to it. Also in the article is a diagram of the wider estate holdings throughout Wiltshire and Hampshire showing the full extent of the land owned and managed by the priory in the 1340s.
The Rental is too fragile to be handled and must be viewed on microfiche but, much to my surprise and amazement, I am permitted to handle other original manuscripts including the original deed deed from Henry VIII granting Mottisfont to William Sandys in 1536.