rave review


I have just finished reading the enthralling “The Secret Rooms” by Catherine Bailey. She set out to write a history of the impact that the Great War (1914-18) had on the  Duke of Rutland’s estate at Belvoir in Leicestershire, but found herself drawn instead into a real life mystery concerning the forbidding locked rooms where the 9th Duke died in 1940, which had been kept closed ever since…

She discovered that three separate time-spans had been completely erased from the records in these rooms, the Muniment Rooms where the estate documents live, and had been deliberately deleted across all categories of records; the clear perpetrator must have been the Duke himself, who literally died in the attempt.

A real page turner ensues, with a child’s tragic death, swindled inheritances, and intrigues at the very top of the British World War One Command. The 9th Duke had not managed to completely destroy the trail, and Catherine Bailey was able to piece together most of the sad, dark story.

If you love archives and libraries (and you do, you are reading this), I highly recommend this gripping read, which dramatically highlights the importance of irreplaceable original documents and the amazing real life stories they illuminate.

Borrow it from your local library!

Talk on Manorial Records 9 July

I am currently working on preparations for a talk I shall be giving at the Derbyshire Record Office on Manorial Records on the morning of Wednesday 9th July at 11 o’clock. The talk (which should last about an hour) will start with an outline of the history and development of manors, explaining what they actually were, how they operated and what people were to be found in them. I will then move on to show what types of manorial records there are, with illustrated examples of individual documents taken from the various collections held at the Derbyshire Record Office. Finally, I will explain the nature of the project I am working on (as a part of a nationwide project run by The National Archives), why the Manorial Documents Register exists, how to use it and what information will be found on it when it is all finished and available online. Well, that’s the plan, anyway.

The talk is priced at £3 (£2 for concessions). There are only a limited number of places available, so booking is essential. To book a place call us on 01629 538347 or email us at record.office@derbyshire.gov.uk.

Neil Bettridge

Manorial Documents Register Project Officer for Derbyshire