Bid to save the historic charters of Higham Ferrers

The charter of 1556, Philip and Mary
The charter of 1556, Philip and Mary

A council is making a bid to save the historic charters belonging to the town.

Higham Ferrers Town Council, supported by Higham Ferrers Tourism, Business and Community Partnership, has submitted a bid for Heritage Lottery Funding to conserve the ancient and precious Royal Charters belonging to the town.

The charter of 1887, Victoria

The charter of 1887, Victoria

The charters are important documents related to the social and political development of the town, charting a series of historical events marking new phases in the progress of self government.

On Saturday (September 30), as part of Higham’s heritage weekend, there is a rare chance to see the charters at Higham Ferrers Town Hall between 9am and 1pm.

Higham Ferrers owns five Royal charters dating from Philip and Mary 1556, James I 1604, Charles II 1664, Charles II 1684, Queen Victoria 1886 and one ancient byelaws document.

However, due to inadequate storage facilities and past unsuitable restoration, the parchment of the documents is deteriorating and in urgent need of restoration.

In recent years few people have seen the charters as they are too delicate for permanent display in the town hall, due to damaging light issues.

The bid, if successful, will address the present problems by professional restoration of the charters and seals.

Once complete, the charters will be stored and accessible to members of the public at Northampton Record Office until such time as a suitable venue in Higham Ferrers is available.

The bid also includes funding for full size replicas of the charters with interpretations which can be moved to various venues, including schools and other display areas within the vicinity as well as digitally, making them accessible to all.

The council is keen to share the importance of the documents to the town’s heritage with the community and with the support of Higham Tourism a series of events are planned to match fund the bid by providing a series of events and entertainments.

Schools are joining in by linking the charters to aspects of the curriculum with a programme designed by local educationalists.

Once the bid is granted and conservation complete there will be a grand launch with a celebration event day in 2018.

Higham Ferrers town councillor Anna Saunston said: “Higham Tourism have worked with the town council for many months on this exciting project. 

“We hope that the Heritage Lottery will grant funds to preserve these historical documents which belong to our town and future generations. 

“I should like to pay tribute to the charter working party for their hard work in reaching this final stage.”   

To find out more about the charters and other exhibitions of local interest including the First World War, Higham Then and Now and Background to the Bedesmen, visit the Chichele Society exhibition at Chichele College on Saturday (September 30) between 10am and 4pm and on Sunday (October 1) from 11am until 4pm.

For further information about the charters go to http://www.highamferrers-tc.gov.uk.

For more details about Higham Ferrers Tourism, Business and Community events go to www.highamferrerstourism.org.uk/ or facebook.com/highamferrerstourism.