The First Winchester Charter

The First Winchester Charter

The charter is written in Latin on parchment.

This charter was given by Henry II to the citizens of the Winchester merchant guild, granting them freedom from tolls, passage and custom. It can be dated to 1155 or 1158.

The witnesses are Thomas the Chancellor (in other words Thomas a Becket), Earl Ragnold, the Earl of Gloucester, Richard de Humetis, the Constable, Garin son of Girald, the chamberlain, William, son of Hamo and Jocelin of Baillol.

The charter is written in Latin on parchment. Its seal is missing but a vellum seal tag still remains attached to the item.

Quick Facts

  • Catalogue record number W/A1/1/1
  • Acknowledgement By permission of Winchester City Council, the first Winchester Charter (ref W/A1/1/1)
  • Date written 1155 or 1158
  • Charter given at Salisbury, Wiltshire
  • Charter given by King Henry II
  • Made of ink on parchment with vellum seal tag


  • Parchment is the prepared skin of a sheep or goat used for writing or painting. Vellum is a fine quality parchment made using the prepared skin of a calf. 
  • The date is given only as ‘at Salisbury’ on the document, but this must be either 1155 or 1158 because the King visited Salisbury only twice, between 7 July and 29 September 1155 and around February-March 1158.
  • The volunteers at the Hampshire Archives and Local Studies and other members of the public suggested this item because:
    “I think this is really important – great piece of documentation for Hants.”
    “Because it was witnessed by Thomas a Beckett and so old.”
    “Any parchment that has survived 850 years is special – and for this to link Winchester with major historic figures like Thomas a Beckett and Henry II.”

Did you know?

This is the oldest document in Hampshire Record Office, but you can still visit the office to look at it and handle it.

Fact Sheets

Catalogue record for W/A1/1/1 The First Winchester Charter  

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