Boarstall Cartulary

Nominated by: Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher

A cartulary (a collection of charters or records) dated 1444 was produced for Edmund Rede of Boarstall in Buckinghamshire.  We are descendants of Edmund, and this fragile book, hand written on parchment, has remained in the hands of our family for nearly 600 years. Although the cartulary was bound in 1444, it is thought that that many of the documents it contains, are much older event than that, including the map of Boarstall (above).  It is a credit to our ancestors and to the Centre for Buckinghamshire studies, and its predecessors, that the cartulary has survived in such remarkable condition.  

Within the cartulary is bound what is understood to be the oldest surviving depiction of an English village.  It tells the story of Nigel the Forester of Bernewode.  A great wild boar was terrorising the inhabitants of the forest.  Legend has it that the boar was slain by Nigel and the head presented to Edward the Confessor, who hunted in the forest.  The map illustrates the event, as well as the boar’s head being presented to the King by Nigel, we can see the King holding a horn on a sling that he presents to Nigel, “a great black horn mounted with silver gilded, which was the first charter of office of the forest of Bernewode and was given by the King to one Nigel.”  One of the earliest “Tenurial horns”.

The cartulary is looked after by the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies (Record Office).  It is rarely displayed in public due to its antiquity and the need to preserve the extraordinary detail and colour of the 11c. map. The horn itself is also looked after by the centre.

This book is a remarkable survival of the forerunner to the estate terrier (a system of recording land and property) that we still use today.  The estate record contained within it includes a most colourful two-dimensional map of Boarstall Tower and its surroundings and real piece of history.  Within the forest boundary venison was protected for use by the King.  Punishments for poaching were harsh, with the crime of poaching carrying the penalty of death or mutilation.  

The Boarstall Cartulary was nominated by Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher, Lord-Lieutenant for Buckinghamshire. Sir Henry is a proud Buckinghamshire resident.