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Secular and sacred: Holbeach terrier, 1539-1540

Holbeach, Lincolnshire came to the College from John Fisher in 1524 along with other lands in Essex, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire.  There is no record of the land having formed part of any manor. Holbeach lies to the south of the Wash and the land was at one time continually being reclaimed from the sea. The Archive holds a number of documents relating to Holbeach; the terrier below is just one of the many beautiful documents related to this ancient possession.

A terrier is a description of a manor, or in this case property, which follows a topographical document. The collection contains a number of terriers for Holbeach with this being the oldest in the Archive. The terrier below is particularily interesting because it is bound in a folio of a parchment psalter.  It describes the lands in Holbeach pertaining to William Robert, farmer.  The document also contains a list of the rents receivable from free tenements in Holbyche [sic] to the use of the College.  The terrier is made up of 14 leaves, written in Latin on both sides with a single entry in English. It is stitched in a sheet of vellum folded with manuscript music on folio 1  and it is ruled for music on folio 2; this forms the cover of the terrier.

Holbeach Terrier cover (1539-1540)Holbeach Terrier cover (1539-1540)

The MS has been turned upside down and the terrier's label written at the bottom.

Folio 3 of Holbeach Terrier

The terrier is clearly a working document.


This Special Collections Spotlight article was contributed on 24 February 2014 by the Archivist.