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National Manuscripts Conservation Trust and Friends of the National Libraries Grants

Release Date: 25 August 2017

Applications are now open for grants given by both the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust (NMCT) and the Friends of the National Libraries (FNL).

The National Manuscripts Conservation Trust offers grants for the conservation and preservation of manuscripts and archives.  Since the NMCT was founded in 1990 it has awarded grants of over £3m, which have enabled the conservation of hundreds of musical, literary, architectural and other vital historical documents. Grants ensure that these important collections can once more be made accessible to the public and researchers.

The next deadline for the submission of applications is 1 October 2017 and the results will be announced in early December. If you want to plan ahead, the deadline after that is 1 April 2018.

Grant applications are welcomed from non-national institutions such as county record offices, museums, university archives/special collections, cathedral archives and libraries, as well as owners of manuscripts that are exempt from capital taxation or owned by a charitable trust.

Grants can cover conservation, binding and other preservation measures, including digitisation (providing it is part of a wider conservation project).  The significance of the collection or items to be conserved, as well as the proposed conservation treatment, are carefully reviewed by Trustees when making their decisions. 

Among the current recipients of NMCT grants are:

  • Skye and Localsh Archive Centre: Conserving the Waternish plan and volume collections
  • Dorset History Centre: The Bankes Family archive
  • Woodhorn Museum and Northumberland Archives: Swinburne – early deeds and charters
  • West Glamorgan Archives Service: The mine engineering drawings of the Neath Abbey Ironworks collection;
  • Staffordshire & Stoke on Trent Archives: The Minton Archive;
  • Berkshire Record Office: Conserving Coleshill – country house and model farm.

Applications must be submitted on the application form, which you can download here.

If you have any queries about whether your project is eligible or about the application process, please contact Mrs Nell Hoare, who manages the Trust.  You can contact her either through the NMCT’s website or at

NMCT is the only grant giver solely focused on manuscript conservation and are keen to spread the benefit of the funding that is available, so do consider applying.

Grants for the Acquisition of Rare Books, Manuscripts & Archives

The Friends of the National Libraries (FNL) helps libraries, museums and record offices acquire books, manuscripts and archives.  The FNL helps the nation’s libraries not just national libraries. Grants enable you to acquire books, manuscripts and archives that your institution would not otherwise have the resources to purchase.

FNL offer significant financial help to county record offices, university libraries, national libraries, museums and art galleries to help them acquire the full range of written and printed material. The two main criteria when awarding grants are the historical, literary and other qualities of the proposed acquisition and its significance to your collection. Price, condition and provenance are also taken into account price, condition and provenance.

FNL usually contribute part of the cost of an acquisition, with the remainder coming from your own or other sources. FNL can also respond to applications where no other money is available, so long as you have thoroughly explored all other possible sources of support. Grants tend to be in the range of £1,000 to £20,000, with most grants being between £2k and £10k.  Receiving a grant from the FNL often helps unlock other sources of funding.

Applying for a grant is easy, you just need to write a letter of application and email it to Dr Frances Harris, Honorary Secretary (   There are no application deadlines and a decision can be made quickly if you face an auction deadline.

For details of the application process, terms and conditions of grant, as well as what to include in your letter of application see the FAQ section of the FNL’s website, here. The website also contains a database of all past grants as well as the Annual Report, which gives a good idea of the range of acquisitions that are supported.