IT fills more than a third of a mile of library shelves and includes key historical documents such as the Battle of Waterloo surrender papers and a record of Dick Turpin’s execution.
And for insight into the lives of more ordinary folk there is even a 16th century cookbook with ‘an excellent recipe to get a good husband.’
These unique historical records are part of a huge collection of manuscripts, archives and books relating to Yorkshire’s history which now have a new home at the University of Leeds and will be available to view.
The Yorkshire Archaeological and Historical Society (YAHS) Collection is probably the largest single resource for research on Yorkshire’s past outside the British Library and has been entrusted to the university on long-term loan.
Gathered over 150 years it has 45,000-plus works including items from as far back as the 12th century.
Other highlights include letters patent of Queen Elizabeth I, adorned with a delicately drawn and brightly coloured portrait of the monarch and with the Queen’s seal still attached by silver cords.
Dick Turpin’s execution is in the register of deaths of prisoners in York Castle and there are also Wakefield Court Rolls which provide records of society and industry in the West Riding from 1274 to 1925.
Manorial court records from Skelton, North Yorkshire, include an £1 fine for ‘throwing a seal calf into the town street’.
Anyone interested in history will be able to explore the fascinating archive.
Joanne Fitton, head of the university’s special collections, said: “The special collections reading room is open to all members of the public and the resources of the YAHS will encourage more people to visit our service for the first time.”
The archive, which has been relocated from the society’s base in nearby Clarendon Road, is being released to the public in stages. The first items are now available to view.
Twenty four hours advance notice is required to access YAHS material.