One of the most important documents in the care of the History Centre is the Charter of 1299. This charter began the process which led to Hull becoming the thriving City we know today.
There had been a developing town where the River Hull met the Humber for about 100 years before the Charter. It was called Wyke upon Hull and was owned by the Abbey of Meaux. In 1296 King Edward I bought Wyke, and the neighbouring settlement of Myton, from the monks of Meaux, better to exploit the customs revenues of the port and to provide a base for supplying by sea his troops in Scotland.
By this Charter, dated 1 April 1299, King Edward confirmed a new name for the town, Kingston upon Hull, and the status of a borough. It was to become a self-governing community, with its own court, coroner, market and taxation. There was to be a Warden (Mayor from 1331), who alone was to represent the King. No other government official was to have any jurisdiction over the borough.
The charter is written on parchment, which is treated animal skin. It is written in Latin, and is addressed to the important people of the Kingdom. It is sealed with the Great Seal of England, which shows Edward seated on his throne on one side and mounted on a horse on the other.
Other kings and queens gave charters to Hull over the years, granting new privileges and confirming existing ones. Although local government legislation superseded the terms of the charters in the 19th century, the royal charters have underpinned the development of the City for over seven hundred years and remain symbols of what it means to be a citizen of Kingston upon Hull.