Wells City Archives - The Records
Wells City Archives contains many thousands of original documents which chart much of the history of Wells. There are some which date back nearly 900 years. There is a huge variety of records, ranging from older historical material such as charters, convocation books and medieval title deeds, to a large collection of Victorian material, to many different types of document dating from living memory and up to the present day. These include records relating to local clubs and societies, railways, health, water supply, allotments, royal visits and markets. There is also a collection of maps and plans, and there are a number of prints, posters and photographs.
Photograph of Wells Amateur Bicycle Club, 1879
© Wells City Archives
The records are of considerable importance both for civic and general social history. Of particular note are:
- The early episcopal and royal City charters (34 in all). The earliest dates from c. 1174. These are fundamental to an understanding of the development of Wells as a borough.
- The fine collection of Corporation Act Books (also known as Convocation Books). Wells has one of the oldest collections of City Council ‘acta’ or minutes. They date from 1378 to 1835, when they were superseded by a new series of minute books, which continue into the present. The Convocation Books provide an almost unbroken record of the proceedings of the old Common Council (that is, previous to the Municipal Corporations Act 1835) for nearly five centuries.
- The collection of around 200 medieval title deeds and leases (mainly 14th and 15th centuries).
- The maps. These include local tithe maps.
Detail of engraving from border of Letters Patent of King Charles II, 1684 (Wells City Charter No. 32)
© Wells City Archives
Other material includes:
- Petty sessions informations.
- Later title deeds.
- Early Town Hall records.
- Council and committee minutes.
- Town Clerk’s correspondence.
- Plans (including plans for Victorian houses in Wells).
- Records relating to: markets and fairs, local clubs and societies (e.g. the Byre Theatre and the Darby and Joan Club), health (e.g. local boards of health), assizes, elections, water supply, sewage scheme, railways, etc.
Work is in progress on creating a complete catalogue of the Archives which will be available on the Internet.