Indenture for the conveyance of a piece of land (1895)
A notable amount of skill and labour has been invested in the production of this legal contract. Formerly known as an ‘indenture of retainer’, indentures, for which this document is an unexceptional example, are a legal contract between two parties which traditionally drawn on Vellum or Parchment and often concerned matters of land their transactions.
This example details a transaction relating to a tract of land, in Chesham, between the Metropolitan Railway and William Lowndes; the land was likely purchased to expand the railway and its infrastructure.
It adopts a conventional formatting punctuated with the words “This Indenture” in large capital letters embellished with decorative flourishes. In keeping with a practice dating back to Medieval times, this legal document was entirely written by hand, in English and is ornately drafted, an item which is beholden to both formality and tradition.
Although this example has been dated 1895, the earliest surviving examples in England are from the thirteenth century. As an object it conveys archaic legal tradition and harkens back to a moment in British history of great change and industrialisation.