Treasure at Brasenose

009Over the summer renovation work was completed on the Muniment Room and Treasury, at the top of Old Quad Tower. This part of College was built between 1509 and 1522 and was regarded as the safest place to store money, silver and objects of value. Hence the Treasury (the upper most room) has housed the College Chest since this time. It is thought that the Chest may have been constructed within the room itself, and we know from documents kept in the archive that it held money as well as important documents. The room directly below the Treasury, known as the Muniment Room now houses the archive office. This room had been used as an archive store for hundreds of years, though during the English Civil War (1642-1651) we know that a reserve of food and provisions were kept in here. This included bacon, salt, butter, cheese and oatmeal. The cupboards and panelling in the Muniment Room were added in 1819, and were used to store the Bursary’s archives when the Bursary office was, from 1771-1885, situated below the Muniment Room in the room now known as the Tower Bursary.

After many years of use as the archive office and store room, both rooms have now been beautifully renovated. The vaulted ceiling in the Muniment Room was cleaned, alongside the stone spiral staircase leading up to the Treasury. A new workspace has been created in the Muniment Room for the archive and library staff and the old shelving was removed from the Treasury to make way for a bespoke display cabinet and new book shelving. The English book stack is now kept up here, and the new display cabinet offers the perfect space in which to view library and archive treasures.

On 22nd October we were very pleased to welcome the Principal to officially open the Treasury and the first display of library books and archives, which this term focuses on Brasenose Authors. Viewings are welcome throughout this term and the display offers all members of the College a chance to view library books and archives within the enchanting surroundings of the Treasury.

Highlights include a copy of Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy (1628), alongside the 1st edition of John Foxe’s Actes and Monuments (1563), as well as works by Thomas Traherne and Alexander Nowell. These will be on display until the end of 4th week. The display will then change to include material relating to Reginald Heber, Walter Pater and William Golding, amongst many others. The Treasury is open this term Tuesdays-Fridays, 1-2.30pm.

By Georgina Edwards - Brasenose College Archivist

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