Cumbria's archive service has become the first in the country to be awarded the prestigious Archive Services Accreditation.

Accreditation is the new UK quality standard which recognises good performance in all areas of an archive service. An accredited archive service ensures the long-term collection, preservation and accessibility of the country's archive heritage.

Achieving this accreditation status demonstrates that Cumbria Archive Service - part of Cumbria County Council - has met clearly-defined national standards of management and resourcing; the care of its unique collections and what the service offers to its range of users.

Cumbria Archive Service holds some incredible historical treasures, including a signed letter of Elizabeth I to George, 3rd Earl of Cumberland asking about the success of his piracy voyages against the Spanish in the 1580s; the Dormont Book of Carlisle City, recording the late 16th century rules for governing the city; the 20th century designs of Thomas Mawson, Windermere's internationally renowned landscape architect; the Lanercost Cartulary, the beautifully illustrated record of the landholdings of the Priory; the artist George Romney's 18th century sketchbooks; and the British Steel Archive from Workington.

Coun Beth Furneaux, Cumbria County Council's Cabinet member for the Archive Service, said: "The archive service team can be very proud of this accreditation – especially being the first in the country.

"I've seen for myself that the range of what's on offer is extensive and the expertise of staff is excellent.

"I'm also pleased that the endorsement focused on the service's work online and with schools – it's vital to engage with young people to keep the service alive into the future."