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The Land Act Tax of 1821

This commission builds on existing links between the Norfolk Record Office and the Parliamentary Archive. The Land Tax Act of 1821 is the longest Act held in the Parliamentary Archives and is 348 meters long with an estimated 65,000 names of commissioners, each hand written. The commissioners were the people, usually pillars of society, held responsible for ensuring the collection of the tax and were based across England, Wales and Scotland. In 2009 a group in Norwich called The History Detectives, explored the stories of 5 Norwich commissioners through the Connecting Communities programme. The case study can be viewed here: http://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/tra…

My job is to now revisit that project, look at the relevant documents, work with the group & the Archive staff to create a digital artist response.

In August I visited the Parliamentary Archives, housed in Victoria Tower, Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament). I was taken into the Acts Room where historical Acts of Parliament are stored as they originally would have been in scrolls. This room is a visual feast and I was told it is often photographed and filmed. This kind of backstage tour is one of the privileges of being an artist, from one year to the next I cannot predict what I might be invited to look at and respond to.

As we walked through the House of Lords and House of Commons I realised how I need to read around the Land Act Tax, the history of the Palace of Westminster and what was happening in 1821 – more of that in the next post.