Treasure 18: the charter of Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Ashbourne

This treasure is a Charter (D3397/1) granted by Queen Elizabeth I, which founded the Free Grammar School in Ashbourne, dating from 17 July 1585.

Following a petition by leading inhabitants of Ashbourne and neighbouring area to Queen Elizabeth I, this charter was issued to found a free grammar school on land granted by the Queen.  It ordained that the offices of schoolmaster and under-master be established, that there be a governing body of 3 governors and 12 assistants (with provision for the filling of vacancies), that the governing body make statutes and ordnances, and that it has the use of common seal.

Treasure 19 Queen Elizabeth (b)

There are 3 parchments, in Latin, with the Great Seal (partly damaged) attached. The charter has borders and initial letters decorated with painted figures and motifs, consisting of crowns, Tudor roses, royal coat-of-arms supported by a lion and dragon, a harp, a crowned eagle on a tree trunk holding a sceptre, and clouds with rays of the sun coming down. The initial ‘E’ is decorated with a particularly fine miniature painting of Queen Elizabeth on her throne, with the letter ‘E’ incorporating and being surrounded by allegorical figures, exotic birds, animals and fruits (including a robin, dragonfly and snake)
Treasure 19 Queen Elizabeth (a)

This stunning Elizabethan charter is a firm favourite with many of our staff. The exquisite detail and beautiful colours in the decorative borders and illuminated initials, make this document very special, as it brings a rare example of royal grandeur to our collections.

The charter has been nominated by Paul, who remarks: “I am always particularly impressed by how vivid the gold colouring has remained after so many centuries”.

6 thoughts on “Treasure 18: the charter of Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Ashbourne

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    • Hi Aaron. We have a digital copy on our CD/19, which can only be seen at the record office in Matlock (as can the original, of course). I would have reservations about putting it online because I think the text is classed as an unpublished literary work, making it subject to copyright protection until 2039 (see previous posts on copyright).

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