The Lambeth Palace Library collections (excluding the Sion College collection, periodicals and prints) contain some 120,000 books and 40,000 pamphlets, relating in the main, but not exclusively, to the history of the Church of England and its relations with other Churches in Great Britain and overseas.
The core of the collection of early printed books was bequeathed by the Library’s founder, Archbishop Bancroft, in 1610 and includes books belonging to some of his predecessors, namely Cranmer, Grindal and Whitgift.
The collections have been enlarged by gifts from successive archbishops, especially Abbot, Sheldon, Tenison, Secker, and Davidson, and by a judicious policy of purchase by recent librarians, often with the help of the Friends of Lambeth Palace Library. The collections have also expanded by individual donations, the acquisition of external libraries and collections, such as that of the Dutch Church, and material from other Church of England collections such as the Cathedral and Church Buildings Library, the Commissioners’ Library, Church House Library and the Church of England Records Centre, which itself acquired several other collections over the years.
As well as antiquarian material, Lambeth Palace Library continues to collect current scholarship relating to the history and administration of the Church of England (pre- and post-Reformation), or providing necessary background sources for research in this field. It also collects material supporting, or stemming from, the study of the historic collection of archives, manuscripts and early printed books in the care of the Library.
The library catalogue can be searched here.
Areas of Strength
- History of the Church pre- and post-Reformation
- Works of religious controversy
Selected images from the collection are available here.
- Ecclesiastical art and architecture
Periodicals & Serials
Currently, Lambeth Palace Library actively collects more than 120 periodicals and serials, but also holds several hundred other historic periodical titles. These primarily focus on the Church of England and its relations with other Churches, covering topics such as liturgy, church history, and ecclesiastical art and architecture.
Hard copies of the most recent issues of forty selected periodicals are available to browse in the Reading Room, together with the following, which are available there in their entirety:
- Alcuin Club Collections
- Canterbury and York Society volumes
- Catholic Record Society Monographs
- Henry Bradshaw Society volumes
- Lincoln Record Society volumes
- London Record Society volumes
- Pipe Roll Society volumes
- Camden Society Series
- Sussex Record Society volumes
Other periodicals, and older issues of the forty selected, can be requested.
Prints & Graphic Materials
The Library has a collection of over 5,000 prints most of which are catalogued online. Particular strengths include views of churches and cathedrals, including many of Canterbury Cathedral and views of Lambeth Palace and its environs. The collection is also strong in satirical material relating to Church of England personnel and events in the Church’s history, and in portraits of of eminent persons, particularly ecclesiastical portraits.
Selected images from The Roger Payton Collection of views of Lambeth Palace are available here.