Library & Archives
The collections at Longleat include the libraries and archives assembled by the Thynne family since (and even slightly before) Longleat was purchased by Sir John Thynne in the 1540s. The archive includes material from the early Middle Ages to the present day and is still actively used in the management of the House, collections, grounds and estate. Books in the libraries range from early medieval manuscripts to 19th and 20th-century children's books, from incunables to Sir Winston Churchill first editions.
Many of the best known documents in the collection have been published in microfilm editions and are readily available in public collections: editions of the Carteret Papers, the Coventry Papers, the Devereux Papers, the Dudley Papers (partial edition only), the Portland Papers, the Prior Papers, the Seymour Papers, the Talbot Papers, the first series of the Thynne Papers, the Whitelocke Papers and many of the class of Miscellaneous Manuscripts have so far been published, as well as an edition of the Glastonbury Abbey court and compotus rolls.
Copies of most of this material are available at the Institute of Historical Research, the British Library and Cambridge University Library amongst other repositories. For further details of the microfilm editions please apply to the publisher:- Microform Academic Publishers, Main Street, East Ardsley, Wakefield, West Yorkshire WF3 2AP - http://www.microform.co.uk/archival-publishing.php The publisher can supply copies of the edition and also single reels (the publisher can no longer supply offprints). For Glastonbury Abbey microfilms contact the Curator at Longleat.
For a general account of the archive holdings at Longleat see volume 11 of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts' Guides to Sources for British History: Principal Family and Estate Collections Family Names L-W, London, The Stationery Office, 1999, pp.113-116.
For the catalogues of the named collections see www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/a2a. But for the Whitelocke Papers catalogue see The National Archives website via the indices of the National Register of Archives (NRA) at:
www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/nra/searches/subjectView.asp?ID=P30410 (for Bulstrode Whitelocke) and
www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/nra/searches/subjectView.asp?ID=P35804 (for Sir James Whitelocke).
Approaching 9,000 printed books, published mainly in the British Isles before 1801, have been reported to the ESTC (English Short Title Catalogue) – http://estc.bl.uk/F/?func=file&file_name=login-bl-estc. In due course our intention is to report relevant items to the HPB (Heritage of the Printed Book, formerly Hand Press Book) database covering, broadly speaking, foreign books appearing up to the end of 1835. Our holdings of just over 100 incunabula (books published before 1501) are recorded on the ISTC (Incunabula Short Title Catalogue) – www.bl.uk/catalogues/istc. Details of our 118 music manuscripts can be found on the UK RISM (Repertoire international des sources musicales) database – www.rism.org.uk
Information For Readers
The library is open to established scholars by appointment only. Readers wishing to make an appointment are advised to give as much written notice as possible. Written notice of at least a fortnight is advisable and should include a description of the research proposed. (The library is also open to other serious researchers on production of a letter of introduction vouching for their experience in the handling and interpretation of original records or rare books.)
Reading hours are from 10am to 1pm and from 2.15pm to 4.15pm Monday - Friday. Staff have to be brought in especially to attend to readers and reading fees are charged at cost. A fee of £20.00 plus VAT per hour is payable with a minimum charge of £40.00 plus VAT. Readers requiring a very large number of documents may be charged an additional production fee at the discretion of the Curator.
It is not possible to produce uncatalogued materials. Researchers are advised to check whether modern records of interest to them are closed: the papers of the 6th Marquess of Bath (1905-1992) and the 7th Marquess (1932- ) are, of course, closed.
Pencils only may be used.
Normally no new documents can be fetched after 3 o'clock.
In accordance with modern conservation best practice, no photocopying service of original documents is offered: if the condition of the document or volume permits a digital photography service is available, offering A4 colour prints for research purposes (minimum initial charge £30.00 plus VAT). Normally no more than ten images can be supplied to an individual client; images are charged at £20.00 each save in the case of images from the same volume or document - these are charged at £20.00 for the first image and £15.00 for subsequent images.
On arrival at Longleat House readers should report to the Estate Office in the Stable Yard so that the Curator can be telephoned.
Computer Search Facility for Genealogists
Due to limited staff resources and commitment to major cataloguing projects, Longleat House is unable to conduct extensive research for, or offer reading facilities to, genealogists. As an alternative service, a computer search facility is offered.
Computer searches of the Longleat automated catalogue of estate papers will produce a print-out giving all document descriptions mentioning the family name or names of interest to the enquirer (the catalogues of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Somerset and Wiltshire estate papers are now largely complete). The search is particularly useful in the case of families who were tenants on the estate, producing a complete sequence of leases and other deeds detailing the properties with which family members were associated. Names mentioned incidentally in other classes of records are also brought to light.
Indices of many servants' wages records, particularly for the period extending from the mid 19th century to the early 20th century, have also been entered on the computer making it possible to search for former employees of the Marquesses of Bath by name. These records often preserve information on the capacity in which the family member worked and their precise period of employment.
Facility fee: £15.00 payable in advance as a deposit.
Computer and printer time: £7.50 per hour.
Print-out: £0.30 per sheet.
Other useful contacts:
Wiltshire Family History Society
Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre
Search Facility for House Historians
Due to limited staff resources and commitment to major cataloguing projects and other urgent tasks, the archivists at Longleat House are unable at present to conduct extensive research for, or offer reading facilities to, the many house historians whose properties are thought to have been part of the Longleat estate. As an alternative we can offer a research service limited to a maximum of three hours per client.
Before approaching us, it is advisable to carry out as much research of your own as possible. There are a number of useful, basic guides to researching house history as well as more substantial works like Nick Barratt, Tracing the History of your House (Public Record Office, 2001). It is not always certain that documentary sources will be able to provide you with the precise date at which the house was built, therefore an 'archaeological' assessment of the evidence of the building itself may prove very useful as a first step. Careful consultation of your own deeds to the house is, of course, recommended, as well as a visit to your local record office where records such as census, land tax, and maps are available.
It should be remembered when consulting maps, that map conventions often make it impossible to distinguish previous buildings on the same site from buildings now surviving. It should also be noted that house names and numbers are not static - house numbers only came into use in the 1850s and it is quite often the case that, over time, a single property has had more than one number. Wiltshire residents might also consider familiarising themselves with the services and publications of the Wiltshire Buildings Record (Wiltshire Buildings Record, Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, Cocklebury Road, Chippenham, SN15 3QN. Tel: 01249 705508. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
To assure the maximum benefit from our search service, please include with your search application a simple sketch map locating your house and as much information on the history of the house and its previous owners and occupiers as you have managed to assemble. Please note that searches are likely to be most successful in areas where our computer catalogue is well advanced (the computer catalogues of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Somerset and Wiltshire estate papers are now largely complete).
Search fees are £25.00 per hour, of which £25.00 is payable in advance as a deposit.
VAT and postage will be added to this charge.
Cheques should be made payable to Longleat Enterprises Limited.
For an appointment or to order a search please write to:-
Dr Kate Harris
The Estate Office
Tel: 01985 845434 (voice mail facility available)
Fax: 01985 844885