As part of the Explore Your Archive campaign, staff at archive services across the country were asked to submit ideas from their own collections to be used on the promotional posters. One of Denbighshire’s items was selected for the campaign and ‘The Painted Book’- a rare and beautiful leather bound volume of heraldic devices was chosen to be at the forefront of the campaign.
‘The Painted Book’ was started in the mid seventeenth century by Thomas Salisbury of Erbistock and then extensively added to by his son John Salisbury, one of the most eminent Welsh genealogists of the time. At some point in its history the book came into the possession of the Williams Wynn family, and was deposited in the Denbighshire Archives in 1985, at the same time as a large collection of their family papers. The volume is a very colourful example of the importance of status and family to the gentry of North Wales in the time of the Stuart kings. The right to bear arms was extremely important, and the various permutations of a family’s crest as they intermarried with other landed families reinforced alliances and was proof of their lineage and of their ancestors’ importance and standing in the country. The volume is very popular with academic researchers, family historians and school children alike.
Marie Owens, Head of Public Affairs, Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland) states- ‘We asked colleagues in archives to send us striking images for the campaign posters – and we were spoiled for choice. But the Book of Heraldry from Denbighshire had it all: age, beauty, colour, history. When we read how schoolchildren had used this book to design their own coats of arms – to literally bring history to life – we knew it would inspire others to step inside the wonderful world of archives’.
Keep an eye out for story boxes based on “The Painted Book” at Denbighshire Libraries from Monday 18th November. The story boxes are filled with interesting facts about heraldry, templates to create your own coat of arms and extracts taken from the painted book itself, allowing you the opportunity to see this beautiful book at a library near you. The following libraries will be displaying the story boxes- Corwen, Denbigh, Llangollen, Rhuddlan, Rhyl, Ruthin, St Asaph and Prestatyn library will be displaying the Painted Book story box when they open at their new location at 21 Kings Avenue, Prestatyn on Monday 25th November.