Archive - Collections & Access

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Salisbury Cathedral's Archive is a unique collection dating from the 12th to the 21st century.

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Salisbury Cathedral's Archive is a unique collection dating from the 12th to the 21st century.  The collection consists of the documents and other records created by the Cathedral (specifically the Dean and Chapter) during the whole course of its history from its earliest beginnings in the medieval period right up to the present day, thus spanning 900 years of history. Types of archives include: minute books, correspondence, photographs and illustrations, financial records, property deeds, audio recordings and, more recently, electronic records.


Foremost among the archives are the documents relating to the foundation and governance of the Cathedral.  There survives a thirteenth century cartulary known as Liber Evidentiarum C (Book of Evidence, the C relates to Chapter, there is a sister book in the Diocesan archives known as Liber Evidentiarum B, the B for Bishop) as well as the Register of St Osmund.  Both of these contain details of the earliest history of the Cathedral together with copies of deeds and statutes. 


The Chapter Act books date from 1329 and continue, albeit in a different form, to the present day.  They contain the minutes and record the actions and decisions of Chapter, the Cathedral's main decision making body, chaired by the Dean.  There are also a considerable quantity of financial records which record the receipt of rents and other sources of revenue as well as the distribution of the common fund among the Cathedral clergy.  There are also accounts of the Clerk of the Fabric relating to the maintenance of the Cathedral, dating from 1464 to the nineteenth century and accounts of the choristers.


The Archive is particularly rich in medieval deeds and associated records relating to Chapter property in Wiltshire, Dorset, Berkshire and Devon.  Together with these are records relating to property owned by the Cathedral in the Close.  Other estate records include a series of lease books of chapter property dating from 1608 and parliamentary surveys from 1649 of Chapter property.  The Major Repair Programme of the 20th and 21st centuries has created a huge amount of detailed information on the condition of the fabric of the Cathedral and its repair - in due course this will be catalogued and appropriately preserved.  The Archive also holds the baptism, marriage and burial registers of the Cathedral in its capacity as parish church of The Close as well as a collection of photographs and illustrations of the Cathedral.


There is an ongoing project to improve the current lists and catalogues of the archive collection in order to make the collection more widely known and accessible. The new catalogue scheme will reflect the Cathedral's main activities and functions - the result of which the archives were created in the first place. These activities and functions will form several broad categories within which the archives will be listed in further series, subseries and catalogued in further detail. As cataloguing progresses more information will be made available on the Cathedral's website.  Information for individual items may initially be relatively basic but the intention is to expand and develop as resources permit.  Please note that so far only a small proportion of the entire archive holdings have been catalogued in detail according to the new catalogue scheme.


The archive is catalogued under the following broad categories:

Foundation & Governance. Includes: cartularies, royal charters, inspeximuses and royal letters patent.  Download a draft catalogue below:

PDF icon Foundation & Governance Series.pdf

Chapter.  Includes: Chapter Act books & minutes, loose Chapter Acts, private Chapter meetings, draft Chapter acts, separate indexes to chapter minutes, extracts from Chapter Act books, memoranda of Chapter Meetings, Pentecostal Chapters, seal books, and lease books. Download a draft catalogue below: 


Prebends Documents relating to the Cathedral's individual prebends.

Prebend series.pdf

Dignitaries & Archdeacons.

Dignitaries & Archdeacons.pdf


Marketing & Communications.  Includes: Cathedral News, Looking Forward, and Flower Festivals.

Marketing and Communications.pdf

Liturgy & Music.  Includes: music schemes, orders of service, organ recitals, special events and concerts, and Southern Cathedrals Festival.  Download a draft catalogue below:

PDF icon Liturgy & Music Series.pdf

Liberty of the Close.  Includes: baptism, marriage and burial registers.

Liberty of the Close.pdf

Fabric. Includes: annual accounts, account books, weekly accounts of the Clerk of Works, receipts and bills, accounts of the procurator of St Thomas' Church, and papers of Mr Frederick Fisher, Clerk of Works. Download a draft catalogue below:

PDF icon Fabric Series.pdf





Cathedral Volunteers.  Includes: audio recordings of interviews with Cathedral volunteers created during the 'Volunteer Voice project, and records of embroiderers.

Deposited Collections.  Archives of external organisations and individuals deposited with the Cathedral.  Includes: Matrons' College.

Other categories such as Property, Finance and Eduction/Outreach and Learning will be set up in due course.

The Cathedral archive does not contain records of Salisbury Diocese or records created by the Bishop's office - these are held by the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre.


Access to the Archive

We welcome all enquiries relating to the archive.  The archivist is able to answer general questions relating to the type of records held and you are most welcome to visit to carry out your own research on specific documents.  To visit the archive it is necessary to make an appointment with the Archivist and, depending on the nature of your enquiry, to have a letter of introduction from a sponsoring academic body or other means of identification.


Contact Details

Cathedral Archivist: Emily Naish

Tel 01722 555107


Address: The Chapter Office, 6 The Close, Salisbury SP1 2EF