As the culmination of several years spent on our Historical Research Project to catalogue every reference to Christchurch in published State papers, Catalogue editors Ray Baxter and David Eels visited the Dorset History Centre to present a copy of the catalogue to Dr. Mark Forrest, (Archives Service Officer, Collections) at the DHC. Ray and David were taken on a tour of the facilities including the reference library where David presented Mark with a copy of the Catalogue. They were then shown the room where archives such as parish registers and records are kept and where a number of documents may be accessed on micro-fiche. This was followed by a visit to the reading room where documents may be requested, examined and photographed. The location of the cabinets holding Ordnance Survey plans and maps were explained and Mark advised that tithe maps now form part of the immediate access system as they have been copied and have been inserted into the cabinets. The final port of call was to the strong room where important documents are held such as family and estate archives, charters and legal documents. The temperature and humidity and control system was explained and we were shown the deleterious effect that water ingress had on an early 19th century mortgage deed.
The highlight of the tour comprised examination of a charter and seal from the reign of Elizabeth I, the same of a charter and seal from the reign of Henry VIII which is kept in a contemporaneous case designed and made for the safe-keeping of such documents, the examination of an early 18th century legal document from Shaftesbury containing numerous seals.
(Photographs provided by Ray Baxter)