New Library News

 Lambeth Palace Library contains an unrivalled collection of precious books and manuscripts, documenting over 1000 years of ecclesiastical and cultural life of the Church and Great Britain.

This page showcases the Church Commissioners plans to build a new library at Lambeth Palace – the first purpose-built home for the collection since it opened to the public in 1610.

Designed by award winning architects Wright & Wright, the proposals will safeguard the future of the library and increase the accessibility of its world class collection. The new building will also allow the collections of the Church of England Record Centre (CERC), which holds the archive of the central bodies of the Church of England, such as the Church Commissioners, Archbishops’ Council, National Society and Church of England Pensions Board, as well as the records of their predecessor bodies, to join those of the Library.  The merger of the LIbrary and CERC will be of great benefit to our users.

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Aerial photo of the site



The Church Commissioners fully engaged with the local community throughout the development of the design proposals and encouraged interested parties to comment on the proposals. Planning permission has now been granted and building is underway. If you wish to see the public exhibition that was run as part of the consultation process it can be downloaded from the link on the top left of this page. You can monitor the progress of the building by looking at images from the the time-lapse camera that is directed at the site


 A small part of the collection inside the Great Hall
Lambeth Palace Library was founded in 1610 after Archbishop Bancroft bequeathed his private collection of books and manuscripts to the public. Currently housed in cramped conditions across 20 rooms within the Grade I listed Palace buildings the collection is available to the public to use.While the Library's focus is on ecclesiastical history, its diverse collection is an anthology of British and international politics and culture, colonial and local history and genealogy. Dating back as far as the 9th Century, the Collection contain over 4,600 manuscripts and nearly 200,000 printed books. The Church Commissioners are looking as ways to preserve and protect this precious collection, which has begun to deteriorate due to unfavourable environmental conditions within the Palace. By re-housing it in a new purpose-built library within the Palace grounds, we can keep the Collection on the site at the home of the Archbishop of Canterbury.


Existing storage inside 15th century Morton’s Tower




The New Library

Located on the edge of the gardens so as to minimise disruption to the Palace, the new library building is intended to form a protective barrier between the busy street and the Archbishop’s garden.

Aerial plan of Lambeth Palace and the new library location



We have sought to create a building that places paramount importance on the quality of materials and architecture, reflecting the grandeur and status of the library collection, which will provide space for its future growth, including modern reading room facilities, conservation studio and staff workplaces and display space.


The Garden

The Archbishop’s garden is greatly valued by those who live and work on the site. With many distinct features, from formal areas and an open lawn, to wilder enclaves, the garden has evolved over centuries. During the 1980s, the then Archbishop’s wife, Rosalind Runcie began restoration works to the site after decades of neglect following extensive damage suffered during World War II bombing raids. In order to preserve such a sensitive site, the footprint of the library building has been kept to the absolute minimum with much of it pulled back to the boundary wall. This allows us to enlarge the existing pond and to introduce new planting, particularly of mature trees which help soften the outline of the building and create a sense of peace and seclusion.


The Team 

The design team for this important and prominent new public building were chosen following a highly competitive design competition which involved some of the leading architectural practices working today.

Design Architect

A panel of judges were delighted to award the design brief for the building to Wright & Wright Architects, who have extensive experience of designing buildings in a historic setting.


Wright & Wright past project – National Gallery, London


Landscape Architect

Dan Pearson Studios - Established in 1987 by Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medal winning landscape designer, Dan Pearson. They have collaborated with architects on a wide range of projects to deliver public parks, civic landscapes and large rural estates.

DP Studio – Millennium Forest, Japan