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Ashburnham was originally located in Ashburnham House. The building had housed the library of the antiquarian Sir Robert Cotton, containing some of the most important Old English manuscripts in existence, many of which were destroyed or damaged in the fire of 1731, including the manuscript of Beowulf. Those that survived formed the foundation collection of the British Library.
Originally owned by the Abbey, the Public Schools Act of 1868 recommended that the building be bought by the School on the death of the occupant, the sub-dean, much to the Abbey’s consternation. The Dean and Chapter used their control over the Governing Body to attempt to prevent the school from buying the building from the Abbey, but this manoeuvre was overturned by Parliament. The sub-dean living in the house survived until 1881.
The house was finally founded the year after the sub-dean died.
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Thumbnails of some maps and plans are made available online for research purposes. If an image is not available it may be possible to obtain a digital version by contacting the Archivist, or to arrange a visit to view the item in person.
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A reprographics service is available to researchers subject to the access restrictions outlined above. Copying will not be undertaken if there is any risk of damage to the item. Copies are supplied in accordance with Westminster School's Policy on Archive and Heritage Collections, and under provisions of any relevant copyright legislation. Permission to reproduce images of items in the custody of Westminster School must be sought from its Governing Body.
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