City of London celebrates 950 years of archives

A tiny strip of parchment, dating back to 1067, will provide the focus for a series of celebratory events this year to mark the 950th anniversary of the City of London Corporation’s extensive archives.

The William Charter, the oldest item in the City’s archives, will go on rare public display from 7 January to 27 April at the City of London Heritage Gallery at Guildhall Art Gallery, to launch the special programme of events. The document, which is written in Old English and given by William the Conqueror to the City of London in 1067, confirmed the legal rights of London’s citizens.

During the course of 2017, the City of London Corporation’s Clerkenwell-based London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) will mark the 950th anniversary by displaying some of the most impressive items from its 300million archives and exploring the stories of London and Londoners from the Norman conquest to the present day. In February, its photography exhibition, ‘The Londoners’, features prints and photographs of working people over the last 500 years while, on London History Day (31 May), young people will ‘take over’ LMA to welcome guests to a Norman-themed day. A 22-metre long, early 19th century, hand-coloured copy of the Bayeux Tapestry – the longest item in the archives’ collections - will form the centrepiece of the event.

In September, LMA will welcome visitors, as part of the annual Open House event and in December, ‘American letters’ from the War of Independence will go on display at the City of London Heritage Gallery.

Geoff Pick, the City of London Corporation’s Director of Archives, said:

“The City of London Corporation’s archives are, arguably, the best of any city in the world and it is entirely appropriate that we are marking 950 years of the City’s stewardship of these remarkable collections. LMA’s team of archivists and conservators take great pride in caring for these items and documents, which are of immense value in preserving and celebrating London’s written memory.

“My colleagues and I are looking forward to this year’s programme of events, and we hope that visitors to LMA will enjoy viewing items from the collections here and at the City of London Heritage Gallery at Guildhall Art Gallery.”

The City of London Corporation, which owns and manages London Metropolitan Archives and Guildhall Art Gallery (which houses the City of London Heritage Gallery) invests £80m every year in heritage and cultural activities of all kinds. It is the UK’s largest funder of culture after the government, the BBC, and the Heritage Lottery Fund.


Notes for Editors:

Journalists and photographers who are interested in a private view of a selection of the City of London Corporation’s archives at London Metropolitan Archives are asked to contact Andrew Buckingham (see below) for further details. A high resolution image of the William Charter is available on request.

For further information, please contact:

Andrew Buckingham, Media Officer, City of London Corporation

Tel: 020 7332 1452 / Mobile: 07795 333060 / Email

About the City of London Corporation:

The City of London Corporation is a uniquely diverse organisation. It supports and promotes the City as a world leader in international finance and business services and provides local services and policing for those working in, living in, and visiting the Square Mile. It also provides valued services to London and the nation. These include the Barbican Centre, Barbican Music Library, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Guildhall Library, Guildhall Art Gallery and Roman Amphitheatre, London Metropolitan Archives, a range of education provision (including three City Academies); five Thames bridges (including Tower Bridge and Millennium Bridge), Central Criminal Court at Old Bailey, over 10,000 acres of open spaces (including Hampstead Heath and Epping Forest), and three wholesale food markets. The City of London Corporation is London’s Port Health Authority and also runs the Animal Reception Centre at Heathrow. For more details, visit