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British Historical Manuscripts

A navigational guide to the core British history collections.

Battle Abbey Collection: ca. 3,000 pieces, ca. 11th century-1780

The Benedictine abbey of St. Martin at Battle, Sussex, was founded by William the Conqueror to commemorate his victory over Harold at Hastings. The monastery possessed lands in Sussex, Berkshire, Essex, Surrey and Kent. During the Dissolution of Monasteries (1536-1540), the abbey and its immediately adjacent lands, together with the lands in Sussex and Kent, were sold to Sir Anthony Browne, Henry VIII's Master of the Horse. In 1721, the lands were sold to Sir Thomas Webster, a prosperous London merchant. The Battle estate remained in the family until 1976. Since then, the estate has been the property of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

This collection consists of two parts: the records of the Benedictine abbey of St. Martin at Battle, dating before 1538, and the papers chiefly of the Browne and Webster families, who owned the Battle Abbey properties following the monastery's dissolution in 1538. The collection is particularly rich in monastic and estate accounts, court records and deeds for lands possessed by Battle Abbey in Sussex and other counties. 

Organization & Access

Research Tools:

  • “Guide to British Historical Manuscripts in The Huntington Library” (Pages 1-20) proves information about each series within the collection. The Guide is available online through the HathiTrust Digital Library.
  • Access the online finding aid for this collection via Summon Discovery.
  • View item-level description for this collection via The East Sussex Record Office’s library catalog:
    • To browse the full series and structure of the collection, use the nested descriptions in the ‘Browse by Hierarchy’ tab. These nested descriptions represent the physical and intellectual organization of the collection. The information becomes more detailed as you progress down the hierarchy. At the lowest level, click on the item to see the full description. You can also search the East Sussex Record Office’s library catalog for place names, proper names, dates, etc., to locate individual items within the collection.

How-to Request:

  • All Battle Abbey materials can be paged electronically through Aeon. Learn how to request materials without library catalog records.
  • The collection’s call number prefix is BA. Learn how to find manuscripts in the library catalog.

Other Resources:

  • Over the decades, The Huntington has acquired other single items related to the Battle Abbey collection. These items are not described as part of the Battle Abbey collection and are discoverable as individual items in Summon Discovery and the manuscript card catalog.
  • Learn about related digital resources on our Additional Resources page.

Related Medieval Manuscripts

Cartulary of Battle Abbey.
Call number: mssBA 29

Cartulary of the office of sacristan of Battle Abbey.
Call number: mssBA 30

Cartulary of Battle Abbey.
Call number: mssBA 33

Additional information about medieval manuscripts, including information related to the Battle Abbey collection, can be found in volume one of "Guide to Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in The Huntington Library." The Guide is available online through the HathiTrust Digital Library.

N.B. These items are restricted and require prior curatorial approval for use on-site. Contact the library for additional information.