A RARE collection of papers including letters signed by Elizabeth I and Oliver Cromwell has been saved for the nation.
The Westmorland of Apethorpe archive, on loan to Northamptonshire County Council’s record office since the 1950s, will be bought for the public after the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) announced a grant of £650,000 to help buy the documents.
The archive is an important collection based around the Westmorland family, whose main residence was at Apethorpe Hall, near Oundle, Northamptonshire, and who were active at court, particularly in Elizabethan and Jacobean times.
Along with letters signed by Elizabeth I and Oliver Cromwell, there are legal documents from Thorney Abbey, one of the major Benedictine houses of the fens and papers relating to the medieval household of Edward, Duke of York.
The collection, which spans more than 600 years, will remain with Northamptonshire Record Office following its purchase from its private owners.
The money from the NHMF, an organisation set up to save the most precious parts of UK heritage in memory of those who have given their lives for the country, bridges the funding gap to reach the archive’s purchase price of £760,000.
A 10-month public fundraising campaign, with a range of events in the Northamptonshire parishes closely associated with the archive, helped raise £45,000 locally.