In 2010 Warwickshire County Record Office made a successful bid to save a valuable family archive.
The Willes collection of family and estate papers relating to the Willes family of Newbold Comyn was purchased from Sotheby’s for £72,000. The county record office has now catalogued the material in order to make it available to the users of the record office via the public searchroom. A hard copy of this catalogue is available in the public searchroom and also online via Warwickshire’s Past Unlocked. To find the catalogue, search for collection CR4141 – Willes Family of Newbold Comyn.
The collection contains correspondence, maps, deeds, accounts and other documents dating from 13th to the 20th centuries. Much of the material provides a history of the Willes family for several generations and provides evidence of their contribution to the development of Leamington Spa; there are papers relating to the creation of Newbold Gardens, canals, local churches and architecture.
The collection also contains papers of national and international interest and importance, including correspondence with relations of Robert Peel and Lord Byron.
There is also correspondence to Edward Willes from his agent and architect, J.G.Jackson, discussing the development of Leamington, specifically Jephson Gardens and the area south of the river, 1830s.
Supporters of the purchase
Most of the cost of funding the purchase came from charities and private donations.
The Record Office would particularly like to thank the following:
- Victoria & Albert (MLA) Purchase Grant Fund
- Friends of Warwickshire County Record Office
- Friends of the National Libraries
- Leamington Society
- Warwick Society
- Warwickshire Gardens Trust
- Pilgrim Trust
We also received a number of very generous donations from private individuals.
Accessing the collection
If you would like to view the documents, you can do so by visiting the County Record Office. For more information about visiting us, go to our visit us page.
Leamington by letter Learning Pack
In addition to the publication of the archival catalogue a learning resource pack has been created by the Leamington History Group as an accompaniment to the collection. [Download Leamington by letter learning pack]