York Diocesan Archive: Bishopthorpe Palace Papers

Scope and Content

The records are divided as follows:

  • Correspondence and Papers [BP.C&P and BP 1].
  • Schools and Charities [BP.Sch].
  • Recusant Returns [BP.Rec.Ret].
  • Schola Archiepiscopi [BP.Sch.Arch].
  • Operation Firm Faith [BP.FF].
  • Benefice Papers [BP.Adv, BP.Aug and BP.G].
  • Volumes relating to the state of the diocese [BP.Dio].
  • Records of Provincial Administration [BP 2/PROV].
  • Records of Diocesan Administration [BP 2/DIO, BP.CF, BP.CFM and BP.Parish].
  • Overseas Visits [BP 6].

In addition to the above, there are 213 boxes of unlisted material, including (but not restricted to) General Synod minutes, archbishops' messengers, Pilgrim Trust papers, Church Army papers, liturgical commissions, notes on canon law revision, New English Bible committee papers, training colleges, nuclear disarmament correspondence, anti-apartheid movement correspondence, Lambeth Conference papers, British Council of Churches papers, and correspondence regarding the archbishops' patronage of various societies. It is envisaged that many of these unlisted records will eventually be amalgamated with existing series.

Administrative / Biographical History

The archives from Bishopthorpe Palace, official residence of the archbishops of York since the thirteenth century, were deposited by Archbishop Garbett in 1955. Subsequent deposits have also been made. The archives, which date from the 1500s but are concentrated on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, centre upon the correspondence and papers of the archbishops. There appears to be no particular reason why examples of certain categories of records (e.g. visitation returns, schoolmasters' nominations or colonial clergy correspondence) were kept at Bishopthorpe, since similar material is to be found among the regular diocesan records. Consequently, several series of documents have since been amalgamated into existed archives.

The arrival of large amounts of material related largely to the second half of the twentieth century posed considerable problems of accrual. The amount and range of material generated had increased greatly, and tended to be filed by subject matter rather than by individual archbishop, and consequently several new series were created. However, it must be recognised that there is substantial overlap between these and other records of provincial and diocesan administration. The records described here should therefore be checked against the Borthwick Institute finding aids for the latest information.

For other miscellaneous personal papers of the archbishops, see GB 193 ABP.


The system of arrangement is reflected in the scope and content.

Access Information

Records are open to the public, subject to the overriding provisions of relevant legislation and the wishes of the donors/owners.

Acquisition Information

The Diocesan Registrar has deposited records relating to the Diocese of York at the Borthwick Institute since 1953.


Please note 24 hours notice is required for photographs and slides.

Other Finding Aids

Where indicated, a hard-copy finding aid is available at the Borthwick Institute, and an online guide can be found at www.york.ac.uk/inst/bihr/Guidesandfindingaids.htm (but note that several major changes have been made since the guide was published).

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Bound and unbound volumes, notebooks, bundles of papers, parchments, correspondence, magazines, photographs.

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Martyn Lawrence, Archives Hub project archivist, August 2005, with reference to the following:

  • David M. Smith, A Guide to the Archive Collections in the Borthwick Institute of Historical Research (York, 1973)
  • David M. Smith, A Supplementary Guide to the Archive Collections in the Borthwick Institute of Historical Research (York, 1980)
  • Alexandrina Buchanan, A Guide to Archival Accessions at the Borthwick Institute 1981-1996 (York, 1997)

Conditions Governing Use

A reprographics service is available to researchers. Copying will not be undertaken if there is any risk of damage to the document. Copies are supplied in accordance with the Borthwick Institute, University of York terms and conditions for the supply of copies, and under provisions of any relevant copyright legislation. Permission to reproduce images of documents in the custody of the Borthwick Institute must be sought.

Appraisal Information

These records have been appraised in accordance with Borthwick Institute policy.

Custodial History

See J.S. Purvis, Towards a University (York, 1968), for information regarding the history of the York Diocesan Archive and its deposit at the Borthwick Institute.


Accruals are expected.

Related Material

York Diocesan Archive.


Where indicated, publications based on or about the records have been produced.