Treasures of Lambeth Palace Library Exhibition: 17 May-23 July 2010

Lambeth Palace Library is one of the earliest public libraries in England, founded in 1610 under the will of Archbishop Richard Bancroft. In celebration of its 400th anniversary in 2010, the Library organised a fascinating public exhibition in the Great Hall of Lambeth Palace. Comments from visitors included:

Susan from St. Louis, USA: "Truly a treasure"

George from Nottingham: "A first class exhibition. Thank you"

Mr and Mrs Brooks from Devon: "Wonderful thought provoking history. Beautiful."

Malcolm from London: "A privilege to see such remarkable manuscripts"

Elizabeth from Kent: "A wonderful, eye-opening exhibition"


The exhibition drew upon the Library's incomparably rich and diverse collections of manuscripts, archives and books, some of which were displayed for the first time. It revealed how the collections developed since 1610 and explored the history surrounding the people who owned, studied or used them as aids to prayer and devotion.

Highlights of the exhibition included:

  • The MacDurnan Gospels, written and illuminated in Ireland in the 9th century
  • The Lambeth Bible, masterpiece of Romanesque art
  • 13th century Lambeth Apocalypse
  • A Gutenberg Bible printed in 1455, the first great book printed in Western Europe from movable metal type
  • Books owned and used by King Richard III, King Henry VIII, Queen Katherine of Aragon, Queen Elizabeth I and King Charles I as well as landmark texts in the history of the Church of England
  • An exceptionally rare edition of the Babylonian Talmud which survived a 1553 Papal Bull ordering all copies to be burnt, which was rediscovered in 1992
  • The warrant for the execution of Mary Queen of Scots
  • Papers of archbishops, bishops and leaders of church and state, ranging from the 13th century to the modern day, including papers relating to the rebuilding of St Paul's Cathedral after the Great Fire and physicians' reports on the illness of King George III.