The First Charter
Reading’s Charter from Edward III
Date: 1344 | Reference: R/IC1/1
This is the oldest charter in the Borough archives; the 1253 charter has not survived (see transcript below). This charter quotes that of 1253 in full, and confirms most of its terms. Unfortunately this charter today is almost wholly illegible. At some point, possibly at the same time that other Borough documents were restored by the British Museum, a gall dye was applied to it in an attempt to revive the ink. This was a common practice during the 19th and early 20th centuries to ‘improve’ the legibility of ancient documents, though unfortunately with harmful results.
Transcript of the lost charter of 1253
"Henry by grace of God King of England Lord of Ireland Duke of Normandy [and] Aquitaine and Count of Anjou to the Archbishops Bishops Abbots Priors Earls Barons Justiciars Sheriffs Officers Ministers and all Bailiffs and faithful subjects greeting. Know ye that we will and order for us and our heirs that all Burgesses of Radinges who are in the merchant Gild in Rading be for ever free of Shires and hundreds and all pleas complaints tolls passages and cartage-tolls and may sell and buy wheresoever they wish throughout England without tolls and that no one molest them under penalty to us of ten pounds.…given by our hand at Portesmouth on the fifth day of July in the thirty-seventh Year of our reign."