An on-going feature in the Keeper’s Gallery that I wanted to highlight to are three large chests. When documents were transferred to the Public Record Office (now The National Archives) their containers were sometimes transferred with them. These containers were put in record classes and allocated individual references. As a result of this we now hold a variety of chests, pouches, skippets (a small metal or wooden case used to hold a seal), coffers and baskets.
Traditionally monarchs considered records to be highly valuable, and in early medieval times they were transported in chests along with the royal gold, jewels and personal belongings.
Domesday was originally kept with the royal treasury at Winchester. But from the early 13th century, when it was not travelling around with the King, it was housed in Westminster at first in the palace and then in the abbey. This chest was not made specifically to hold Domesday, but was used to store it from about 1500. The Domesday chest is made from wood, with an iron lining inside and out. It has three different sets of locks, which correspond to three different keys. In the past the three keys were held by three separate officials; their permission had to be granted before it could be opened. The extensive safeguards against theft suggest that this chest was made to hold something of great value. Continue reading »