Manuscripts and Special Collections

The Bawdy Court

Poster for The Bawdy Court exhibition

This exhibition ran in early 2004. The title comes from the expression popularly given in the 17th century to the ecclesiastical courts, which were seen to focus particularly on the moral lapses of ordinary people.

In fact, until the 18th century, jurisdictions such as the historic Archdeaconry of Nottingham had wide powers to investigate local communities and to punish offenders, and their courts dealt with a whole range of parish matters and personal behaviour.

The Archdeaconry of Nottingham, at a distance from its superior court at York, exercised its power through its own judge (called the Official) and registrar. It has left an extensive archive recording its activities. These records, which provide an enormously rich historical resource, have been held in the library of the University of Nottingham since 1943.

They include Presentment Bills, in which churchwardens reported the faults of their parishioners, and which provide the focus of this exhibition. At the time of the exhibition, work was in hand to make these documents more readily available, by conserving fragile papers and providing Internet access to the catalogues. The University is indebted to the Heritage Lottery Fund for its support of the cataloguing and conservation programme.

More information about the records of the Archdeaconry of Nottingham is available in the Archdeaconry Resources part of our website.

This online version of the exhibition consists of a series of pages based on the display boards, plus a selection of the exhibits.

We intend mounting online versions of all our exhibitions held at the Weston Gallery, and would welcome your feedback on the content and usability of the following pages.


Next: Presentment Bills



Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 4565
fax: +44 (0) 115 846 8651