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The papers of the Coke family of Weasenham Hall (Norfolk) were acquired by the University Library in 1998. They previously formed part of the Holkham Archive at Holkham Hall and were transferred to Weasenham Hall in 1909, at the death of the second Earl of Leicester (1822-1909), when the Weasenham estate was left to his second wife, Georgiana Caroline Cavendish (1855-1937), as her dowager seat.

The collection, which consists of 55 boxes containing over 4000 title deeds and estate papers from the thirteenth to the nineteenth century, concerns the lordship of Weasenham, situated between Castleacre and Fakenham in West Norfolk. The main interest of the collection lies in the light it sheds on the manorial and landscape history of West Norfolk and on the early history of the Norfolk system of husbandry during the eighteenth century. It includes a series of fourteenth century court rolls with accounts for the two manors of Kipton and Northall, which were acquired in 1592 by Edward Coke (1552-1634), Attorney General under Elizabeth I. A number of rentals and terriers from the fourteenth to the seventeenth century, and a survey by William Hayward with two estate maps from 1600 are also of interest. One of the strengths of the collection lies in its preservation of several hundred charters and deeds recording land transfers from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century. Twelve boxes (22-33) contain deeds and papers relating to the third Weasenham manor of Easthall and Hastings, which the Coke family purchased in 1796 from the heirs of Richard Jackson.

A catalogue listing each item of the collection (except for the contents of boxes 22-33) is available in the Manuscripts Reading Room. It was produced at Holkham as part of the Holkham Papers series by Edward Scott (1840-1918) of the British Museum between 1890 and 1909.

The collection is open to all holders of full Library reader's tickets.

Contact: Sian Collins (01223 333141;