Hello! And welcome to the Attics and Acres Project Blog. My name is Maxine Willett and I’m the Project archivist working to make the Graham family papers of Norton Conyers accessible to all, with the generous help of volunteer support. We’ll be using this blog to update you on project progress and to share with you the exciting discoveries we’ve made.
The papers relate to the North Yorkshire estates of the Graham family at Norton Conyers, located just outside of Ripon, as well as those at Nunnington, together with records from estates at Kippax, West Yorkshire and Bowland, Lancashire. The archive is therefore significant for the history of both North & West Yorkshire. There are a small number of medieval deeds, but the majority of the papers date from the 16th to the 20th century and the collection is particularly rich in 17th and 18th century material.
Extensive personal papers and correspondence give a clear insight of Graham family life through the ages. Other notable records include papers relating to the purchase of the estate in the 1620s, a fine Pickhill survey of 1765, early 18th century court rolls and the Grant of the Manor to Sir Simon Musgrave, 1574. An autograph album contains letters from Lord Byron, Sir Joshua Reynolds and Jefferson Davis. Other notable manuscripts include a letter signed by Charles II, whilst in exile, requesting a loan for £200. Did he ever pay it back I wonder…
Nunnington, near Helmsley, another very important North Yorkshire house, now a National Trust property, passed to the Norton Conyers branch of the Graham family in the mid 18th century and remained in their ownership until 1839 when debts forced its sale. Surviving documents include rentals, details of renovations, court rolls of 1632 and 1639 and title deeds from late medieval times onwards.
The Kippax Manor records include court rolls from the time of Henry VIII, plus later colliery accounts and Slingsby and Cage family correspondence. For properties in Bowland there is an important group of rentals, accounts and letters from the earlier part of the 18th century.
The project provides an exciting opportunity for exploring the heritage of the region’s landed estates by making this untapped resource accessible to the public through outreach events and exhibitions, thus encouraging people to learn about, and celebrate, their own local heritage and its relevance in the national sphere.