This manuscript book dates from the end of the fourteenth century and was still in regular use in the seventeenth century. The book contains copies of some of the earliest royal charters, a description of the ancient rights and customs used to govern the town, examples of legal documents, as well as an abbreviated chronicle of the history of the world derived from the medieval chronicler, Ranulf Higden.
It contains fifty-four leaves of parchment, almost all filled with handwritten texts in Latin, French and English. It was rebound in the twentieth century to preserve it, but the original medieval bookbinding has been kept.
Many people have written in this book over many years. It was probably made by successive Faversham town clerks. Running a busy town and port like Faversham was a complex business and required specialised legal knowledge and administrative skills. It also meant keeping accurate written records ― the job of the town clerk. At a time when few people could read or write, the skills of the Faversham town clerks were impressive. This small book was probably used as a portable reference book and carried around by the clerk to be used in the town courts and perhaps on official business in London and elsewhere. It is a remarkable survival.
The book has been photographed in its entirety (including the original binding) and can be viewed on this page. It has been transcribed and translated in The Early Town Books of Faversham c. 1251-1581. Part I. By Duncan Harrington and Patricia Hyde (History Research, 2008). A copy of this book is available in the reference section of Faversham Public Library.