Christmas update from the Library and Record Centre

Merry Christmas from
the Library and Record Centre!

Lambeth Palace Library and the Church of England Record Centre regularly embark on new projects and acquire and catalogue new material, from rare books and manuscripts to modern publications.  These posts provide a brief update on some of our latest acquisitions, projects and upcoming events, to keep you up-to-date with our most recent news.

New books

Enjoy reading one (or more!) of our recently acquired new books. Highlights include:

Magazines and journals

Lambeth Palace Library also collects a variety of magazines and journals. You are very welcome to visit the Reading Room to consult these too. Some of our recently received titles include:
magazinesChurch Archaeology
Churchman
Ecclesiastical Law Journal
Ecclesiology Today
The Friends Quarterly
Historical Research
The Huguenot Society Journal
Journal of Ecclesiastical History
Journal of Religious History, Literature & Culture
Modern Believing
Parliamentary History
The Prayer Book Today
Privacy & Data Protection
Reformation
Royal Historical Society Transactions

newspapers

We also receive the following papers and magazines weekly:
The Church of England Newspaper
Church Times
The Tablet
TLS (The Times Literary Supplement)

Please note that since October 2019, Lambeth Palace Library is closed on Fridays. This is to give the staff time to prepare the collections for the move to the new library building. Opening hours will be 10am to 5pm on Tuesday and Wednesday, and 10am to 7.30 pm on Thursday.

 

Upcoming events

‘Bishop Symon Patrick (1626-1707) – unsung hero of the Restoration Church of England’

Dr Nicholas Fisher
Thursday 26 March, 6pm (admittance from 5:30pm)

PYT0001 (2)In 2018, Nick Fisher was the first recipient of a Lambeth doctorate after the scheme had been rebranded ‘Lambeth Research Degrees in Theology’.  His thesis explored the writings and career of Symon Patrick from Rector of St. Paul’s, Covent Garden, to Bishop of Ely. This illustrated talk will explore the religious tensions of Charles II’s reign and suggest that Patrick’s contribution to the national Church has been unjustly neglected.

All are welcome, but those wishing to attend should book a free ticket at https://nickfisherlambeth.eventbrite.co.uk, or email melissa.harrison@churchofengland.org not later than Friday 20 March.

Day conference on the seventeenth-century book collector Richard Smith (1590-1675) and his library

Hall

Wednesday 27 May (further details to follow)

Speakers will include Peter Lake, Jason Peacey, Andrew Foster, Vanessa Harding, David Pearson, Alan Nelson and Kenneth Fincham.

The Books of Henry Bradshawe, nephew of the regicide

Professor Alan Nelson (University of California, Berkeley)
Tuesday 9 June, 5:30pm (admittance not before 5pm)

Gate HouseThe name of Henry Bradshawe, and the family seat in Marple, Cheshire, in the seventeenth century, are familiar to bibliographers and to the book trade. According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, John Bradshawe the regicide, being childless, bequeathed ‘all my Law Bookes,’ along with books ‘on divinity, history and other books’ to his nephew Henry, who maintained the family library until his death in 1698. This traditional account is an extreme simplification of the true story, which must start with the realization that books from the Bradshawe family library carry the ownership signatures of at least four Henry Bradshawes. Books from the library are scattered across the English-speaking world.

In association with the University of London research seminar on the History of Libraries. All are welcome, but those wishing to attend should book a free ticket at https://alannelsonlambeth.eventbrite.co.uk, or email melissa.harrison@churchofengland.org not later than Friday 5 June.

Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Lambeth Palace Library, followed by a lecture by Professor Richard Gameson: ‘Codex and Colour: the pigments of Lambeth Palace manuscripts’

Thursday 18 June, 2:30pm (admittance not before 2pm)

RichardGamesonOne of the most striking aspects of medieval manuscripts is their ravishing colours. Scientific advances mean that it is now possible, using non-invasive techniques, to identify the pigments that were used to produce the illuminations in question. This lecture will report the findings from recent investigations of illuminations in Lambeth Palace Library, explaining the processes that were used, summarising the pigments that were identified, and contextualising them within broader patterns of medieval and renaissance painting.

This meeting, open to Friends of Lambeth Palace Library, will be followed by tea. Friends should book in advance with Melissa Harrison, Lambeth Palace Library, melissa.harrison@churchofengland.org  or telephone 020 7898 1400.

 

New Library update

The project remains on time and on budget, and detailed planning for the move is taking place. The scaffolding is coming down on the whole building, with the front elevations now clearly visible.
View from Lambeth Bridger Oct19

View of the Library from Lambeth Bridge

Internally, all shelving units have been installed and the installation of timber bookcases in the Reading Room is also nearing completion.

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Shelving units installed

Reading Room shelves

View from inside the east wing Reading Room

Externally, the landscaping works for the Palace are progressing with the brick features and extensive soft landscaping. This will continue into 2020 and will include extensive planting and a wetland habitat. The external landscaping works on Lambeth Palace Road will commence in January 2020 with remodelling of the footpath immediately outside the site (with pedestrian access maintained at all times).

External facade and wetland

External facade and wetland area

Library staff enjoyed visits to the site in November to view the latest progress of the build.

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The new Library offers spectacular views of the surrounding area, a few glimpses of which can be seen below:

view from semianr room Oct19
View from the seminar room

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Knight Harwood have been running workshops for children at The Evelina Children’s Hospital, as part of the project’s commitment to engaging with the surrounding community. In their latest workshop, on 27th November, patients enjoyed building their versions of the new Lambeth Palace Library out of Duplo and Lego, with the help of the developers from Knight Harwood, teachers from Evelina Hospital School and play specialists. Children and young people, aged 18 months to 13 years old, had a perfect view of the new library, which is being built just across the road from Evelina Hospital, inspiring them to construct their own versions of the building. The full article can be read here on Evelina Hospital’s website, and the children’s designs are on display in front of Evelina Hospital School.

Lego

The results of one of Knight Harwood’s workshops with the Evelina Children’s Hospital

 

Archive news

A large amount of material has continued to be digitised and made available through the Library’s online image gallery. Recent highlights include a range of manuscripts from Sion College (best opened in Chrome):
http://images.lambethpalacelibrary.org.uk/luna/servlet/s/223kgv
http://images.lambethpalacelibrary.org.uk/luna/servlet/s/v817bq
http://images.lambethpalacelibrary.org.uk/luna/servlet/s/tjh7xd

SionL40.2L7f12v-13r

Sion L40.2L7 f.13r

An English translation of Tacitus’ Annals (MS 683) held by the Library and dating from c.1600 was the subject of an article in the Times Literary Supplement: https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/royally-adorned/ and other press coverage regarding corrections made by Elizabeth I. The volume has also been fully digitised.

ElizabethMS 683 f.2r

The Library’s archive collections have featured heavily in some recent publications:
https://www.authorhouse.com/en/bookstore/bookdetails/794245-the-cowley-fathers-in-philadelphia
https://www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9783030271299

Appraisal and cataloguing work continues on the papers of Archbishop George Carey. In addition a range of other material has been catalogued, such as archives of the Nikaean Club, the Liturgical Commission, the Joint Liturgical Group and Lord Wharton’s Charity, and papers of various 19th century Archbishops of Canterbury, Henry Evington, Bishop of Kyushu, and correspondence regarding the Book of Common Prayer (1928).

Staff have hosted a range of visits, ranging from academic institutions such as the Open University and Royal Holloway (University of London) to professional groups such as notaries public.

 

Lambeth Palace Library and Church of England Record Centre Collection and People Migration Project

Teams are getting-ready for the big move next year to the new Lambeth Palace Library site at the end of the Lambeth Palace Garden, which is due for handing over in April 2020.  In the meantime, planning has been working towards scheduling the move of people and collections across the year 2020; and finishing-off some of the final mapping (where things are going in the new building) and protection (cleaning, boxing etc) of collections.  Activities have included clearing out old kit and equipment (a few skips worth!) both at CERC and LPL; and over 34,000 boxes being made for books moving across to the new library, which also included cleaning them all!

Next steps are working through protection needs for CERC, finishing off Morton’s Tower and ending with protection of the most vulnerable collections in the Great Hall.  Exciting times ahead as next year is a busy move year for us with all Library and Record Centre staff being involved in some aspect of move supervision for collections, kit and equipment.

Atsuko and Erin rotated

Don’t forget – you can also keep up-to-date with our news and events, and enjoy glimpses of some of the treasures in our collections, by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

September update from the Library and Record Centre

Lambeth Palace Library and the Church of England Record Centre regularly embark on new projects and acquire and catalogue new material, from rare books and manuscripts to modern publications.  These posts provide a brief update on some of our latest acquisitions, projects and upcoming events, to keep you up-to-date with our most recent news.

FullSizeRender (18)New books!

Enjoy reading one (or more!) of our recently acquired new books. Highlights include:

 

Magazines and journals

Lambeth Palace Library also collects a variety of magazines and journals. You are very welcome to visit the Reading Room to consult these too. Some of magazinesour recently received titles include:
Crucible: the journal of Christian social ethics
Churchman
Faith and worship
The Friends Quarterly
Historic Churches
Journal of Anglican Studies
Journal of Ecclesiastical History
Journal of Paper Conservation
The Library: Transactions of The Bibliographical Society
Privacy & Data Protection

We also receive the following papers and magazines weekly:

newspapersThe Church of England Newspaper
Church Times
The Tablet
TLS (The Times Literary Supplement)

 

Please note that from October 2019 Lambeth Palace Library will be closed on Fridays. This is to give the staff time to prepare the collections for the move to the new library building. Opening hours will be 10am to 5pm on Tuesday and Wednesday, and 10am to 7.30 pm on Thursday.

Upcoming events

‘Wanting more and wanting better’

traherne socBishop Richard Harries
Monday 23 September, 5pm (entrance not before 4:30pm)

The usual assumption is that Christianity disapproves of us wanting things. Thomas Traherne takes a very different line, saying we don’t want enough. But when we have moved out of innocent bliss into a world of sin and suffering, how do we manage this wanting?

In association with the Traherne Society. All are welcome, but those wishing to attend should book a free ticket at  https://richardharrieslambeth.eventbrite.co.uk or email melissa.harrison@churchofengland.org not later than Tuesday 17 September.

‘William Holcot’s books: recantation and repentance in Reformation England’

Professor John Craig (Simon Fraser University)
Tuesday 26 November, 5:15pm (entrance not before 4:45pm)
Craig
William Holcot was a mid-Tudor gentleman, bibliophile and lay reader in the early Elizabethan church, whose experience of recantation during the reign of Queen Mary powerfully shaped his thoughts and actions during the Elizabethan period. Very little survives from Holcot’s life but the few pieces that do enrich our understanding of a particular stream of Elizabethan Protestantism. This event will be followed by a drinks reception.

In association with the University of London seminar on the Religious History of Britain 1500-1800.  All are welcome, but those wishing to attend should book a free ticket at https://johncraiglambeth.eventbrite.co.uk, or email melissa.harrison@churchofengland.org not later than Friday 22 November.

Christmas reception for the Friends of Lambeth Palace Library and their 1488-5jguests

Wednesday 4 December, 6pm (admittance from 5:30pm)

Christmas reception held in the State Drawing Room in Lambeth Palace.

Tickets £10 per head, to include wine and mince pies. To book, please send names in advance to Melissa Harrison, melissa.harrison@churchofengland.org or telephone 020 7898 1400, not later than Friday 22 November.

 

New Library update

Work on the new library is progressing well and the programme remains on track to complete in April 2020.

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From the street, the completed brickwork for the east and west wings are now clearly visible. Scaffold only remains in place to the central tower which will start to be dismantled from October 2019.

Internally, considerable progress has been made. The archive spaces are nearing completion with the final shelving units arriving at the start of the month ready for installation.

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The spaces which will be occupied by the staff have also progressed well. Finishes to the floors, ceilings and walls have started over the last period and will continue to the end of the project. Joinery is being put into the Reading Room, so we are now starting to see the wood panelling.

First floor office
First floor office
Reading Room
View from inside the Reading Room
Freezers in cold store
Freezers in the cold store

Externally, an exciting phase will start in the next quarter when the landscaping works for the Palace gardens commence. This will include extensive planting and a wetland habitat. The pond wall will be set out this week, and the excavations of the base of the pond started.

 

Lambeth Local History Fair

Local History Fair

The Library was thrilled to have a stall at the Lambeth Local History Fair, a now annual event that kicks off Lambeth Heritage Festival, which runs throughout September.  This year the Fair was held in Brixton Tate Libary on Saturday 7th September, and saw dozens of local societies and local history organisations come together to showcase their services, alongside a programme of illustrated talks, tours and walks.  Library staff were pleased to talk to a large number of visitors and let them know how the Library and Record Centre could be useful to their research.

The full programme for the Lambeth Heritage Festival 2019 can be found here.

 

Archive news

Material catalogued and now made available in recent months has included:

  • Papers of the English Hymnal Company (ref: EHC), 1905-2000.
  • Correspondence regarding the Book of Common Prayer (1928), mainly between Lambeth Palace and Colonel H M Oldham (ref: MS 5149), 1926-1959.
  • Letters and reports to Cyril Eastaugh, Bishop of Peterborough on South Africa (ref: MS 5150), 1965.

The Library’s collections have also been used in a range of recent publications and resources including:

Further content has been added to the Library’s public image management system: http://images.lambethpalacelibrary.org.uk/luna/servlet, including a range of manuscripts (MS 1, MS 284, MS 774, MS 1143, MS 1502, MS 2022, MS 5082) and material from Sion College (Sion L40.2/E25, Sion L40.2/E42, Sion L40.2/E44, Sion L40.2/L2 and Sion L40.2/L7).

MS 774f178v
MS 774, f.178v

In the Conservation studio

Over 30,000 items have been boxed, with a big focus now on protecting CERC collections for the move next year. We are currently working through the procurement process for potential movers and, once awarded, the process of preparing the day-by-day scheduling of the move will begin.  In addition, the team are preparing for the studio move, as well as helping with new library requirements.
Only 217 days until we get the keys to the new building!

boxing

Don’t forget – you can also keep up-to-date with our news and events, and enjoy glimpses of some of the treasures in our collections, by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

 

Summer update from the Library and Record Centre

Lambeth Palace Library and the Church of England Record Centre regularly embark on new projects and acquire and catalogue new material, from rare books and manuscripts to modern publications.  These posts provide a brief update on some of our latest acquisitions, projects and upcoming events, to keep you up-to-date with our most recent news.

New books!

Enjoy reading one (or more!) of our recently acquired new books. Highlights include:

Magazines and journals

magazinesLambeth Palace Library also collects a variety of magazines and journals. You are very welcome to visit the Reading Room to consult these too. Some of our recently received titles include:

Anglican and Episcopal History
Church Monuments
English Historical Review
Families First
Historical Research
Modern Believing
New Directions
Parliamentary History
The Prayer Book Society Journal
Theology

newspapersWe also receive the following papers and magazines weekly:

The Church of England Newspaper
Church Times
TLS (The Times Literary Supplement)

Upcoming events

Lambeth Palace Garden Open Days with Great Hall entry and exhibition

Every first Friday of the month until September, 12 noon to 3pm
Next Open Day: Friday 2 August 

garden

An opportunity to visit the Palace’s beautiful gardens and see the progress of the new Library building! Refreshments and entertainment are provided in the garden and there will be plants for sale. The 17th century Great Hall will also be open throughout the Open Days, with a chance to view displays of some of the Library’s collections. Do come along and bring your friends and family!

There is an entrance fee of £5, which will go to a chosen charity each month, and there is no need to book.

New Library update

As of July, the Library project remains on time and on budget. The Archbishop topped out the building in May.

topping.jpg

The brickwork is nearing completion and is gradually being revealed as the scaffolding comes down.

dav

Over the summer and Autumn most of the work is concentrated on the inside of the building as all the mechanical work progresses inside.

stacks

Staff are now heavily involved in planning for the big move of all the archives from the Library and CERC which will be taking place between June to December 2020.

Archive news

Clare Brown awarded The Lanfranc Award for Education and Scholarship

clareThe Library is delighted that Mrs Clare Brown, Archivist, was awarded The Lanfranc Award for Education and Scholarship by Archbishop Welby at the Lambeth Awards 2019, for her work in guiding readers through the archives of the Church of England, and for her exhibitions and scholarly expertise in support of Lambeth Palace Library and three Archbishops of Canterbury. In April, we bid Clare a very long and happy retirement after seventeen years of service at the Library!

Clare’s contribution over the years is too vast to summarise briefly, but we hope to give a sense of her many accomplishments. On joining the Library, Clare completed cataloguing of the papers of Archbishop Ramsey, and then led cataloguing of the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) archive. She led work on the collaborative projects on the Library’s important collection of Greek manuscripts, with an exhibition in 2006 and the launch of the catalogue in 2016. She contributed to understanding of the Canterbury Archbishops’ Registers alongside work undertaken by the Borthwick Institute on the York Registers. Her knowledge of the history of ecumenical relations contributed to displays for visitors to the Archbishop from other churches, and her extensive knowledge of the collections and of Church of England history have benefited many Library readers and NCIs colleagues over the years. This is evidenced, not least, by the amount of enquiries Clare answered during her time at the Library – almost 3,700!

We will all greatly miss Clare’s incredible knowledge, helpfulness, her willingness to share her expertise with Library readers and colleagues alike, and especially her sense of humour.

Archival collections news

Papers from 1988 have been released for research, including some 500 files from the papers of Archbishop Runcie and further material on Anglican-Roman Catholic relations from the records of ARCIC II. Descriptions can be searched on the Library’s online archives catalogue.

Further newly-catalogued material includes records of the Lambeth Diploma and Vacation Term for Biblical Study, two initiatives founded in the early 20th century to provide theological and scriptural training for women. Library staff are also adding detail to descriptions of various series of news cuttings and photographs relating to Archbishops Benson (cartoon pictured below), Davidson, Lang and Fisher, which complement correspondence and other papers in the main series. Photographs of Lambeth Palace and garden by Sue Snell are also now catalogued.

cartoon

An annotated Bible belonging to John Taylor Smith, Bishop of Sierra Leone, was donated to the Library. The Library also received a set of playing cards produced by the Mothers’ Union.

Watercolours from the Library collections can now been seen on the new Watercolour World website.

watercolour

Recent blog posts have covered a printed work on music from the Sion College collection; a further report on records of the Court of Arches; and a conference on Anglo-Saxon manuscripts.

A digitised version of Herbert Bosham’s life of Thomas Becket incorporating folios from the Library’s MS 5048 detached from the parent manuscript held in Arras is now available.

Bosham

The 100th anniversary of the Church Assembly, predecessor of General Synod, occurs in 2019. Aside from the main archive held at the Church of England Record Centre, there are further voluminous sources in the Library collections.

An edition of the household accounts of Archbishop Laud has been published; the original document is held at the National Archives, but complements sources relating to Laud in the Library collections. Readers may be interested in a Salvation Army blog post on the history of Christianity in China; the Library also holds material on the church in China.

In the Conservation Studio

Earlier in the year, a group of students from the Consortium for the Humanities and the Arts South-East England (CHASE) visited the Library as part of their ‘Material Witness‘ training programme, which examines physical objects in the digital age. The visit was organised by Teresa Lane, PhD student at the Courtauld Institute of Art, who recently completed a six-month CHASE internship working on the Library’s illuminated manuscripts. It gave participants a behind-the-scenes look in the conservation studio and an opportunity to learn about the different approaches and techniques involved in preserving fragile books.

workshop

Lara Artemis, Senior Conservator at the Library, led the sessions on medieval manuscripts, examining their materiality and chemistry, as well as their history and provenance. The group were shown the stunningly illuminated 13th-century Lambeth Apocalypse (MS 209) – one of the Library’s treasures – and looked at the kinds of pigments used by the artists. The students even had a go at mixing pigments and painting their own illuminations on vellum afterwards!

workshop2

The photographs above are taken from the Material Witness blog about the student’s visit to Lambeth Palace Library, which gives plenty more fascinating insights into manuscripts and their conservation.

In other news, we continue to make strides in our boxing and preparing the collections for the move. We’ve now completed around 25,000 boxes for vulnerable items in the collection, including completing the job of cleaning, measuring, boxing and organising the vulnerable Sion College Library collections stored in the Blore, one of our Library storerooms.

boxing

Sion College Founder’s Day at Lambeth Palace

Fellows and members of Sion College celebrated its Founder’s Day at Lambeth Palace on Tuesday 9 July. This year’s event included a lecture by Baroness Manningham-Buller, former Director General of MI5, who spoke on the topic of “Intelligence and Ethics”. Evening prayer in the Chapel was followed by a drinks reception in the Great Hall where attendees were able to view an exhibition of some of the newly catalogued items from the Sion College collection, now housed in Lambeth Palace Library. Also on display were books and manuscripts relating to the lecture’s theme, including Reginald Scot’s Discovery of witchcraft (1654) in which the author denounced the prosecution and torture of those accused of witchcraft as un-Christian and irrational, and a 1584 caricature of Thomas Norton, whose ruthless and enthusiastic punishment of English Catholics led to his being nicknamed the “Rackmaster-General”.

Witchraft.jpg

Don’t forget – you can also keep up-to-date with our news and events, and enjoy glimpses of some of the treasures in our collections, by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

A Helping Hand

Mary Clayton-Kastenholz has been working as a conservation assistant at Lambeth Palace Library for the past month. Prior to this she volunteered with the printed books team assisting with cataloguing and collections care tasks. In this blog post Mary discusses her work as a conservation assistant.

In addition to assisting with the ongoing boxing and cleaning projects that are preceding the move to the new building, I have been helping to conserve some flat objects from the Church of England Record Centre. Most of these documents are from a series known as ‘chancel plans’; architectural drawings of the front section of churches drafted in the late 19th century, depicting proposed restoration schemes. These documents are an important, active legal record for the Church; in many localities, ownership of certain houses can still come with a formal obligation to care for the local church chancel (‘Chancel repair liability’). It is important for the Record Centre that these documents are accessible, stable, and clean for reader access.

Mary 8

Starting to clean G.2774 (CERC) with a chemical sponge

To clean these documents, I have used a ‘smoke sponge’, so called because it can be used to remove smoke damage and soot, as well as effectively removing surface dust and dirt. To begin I would first carefully unfold the document, setting aside any other items that may have been stored inside. In the case of the chancel plans, the outer document often contained several pieces of tracing paper illustrating aspects of the proposed 19th century renovations; often these also required surface cleaning. Once unfolded, I would weigh the document in several places, and carefully use the sponge to lift the dirt using a diagonal dabbing motion. Tracing paper, which becomes extremely brittle over time, is only cleaned where dirt is visible, usually on a few outer edges. Dirt on the tracing paper usually sits very loosely on the surface, so it is possible to remove it with almost to no pressure. With the larger paper chancel plans I would clean the whole surface taking care not to disturb any inscriptions in pencil. I was expected to test any other media (ink and water colour) to make sure they are not going to come off. The smoke sponge is made of vulcanised rubber or a synthetic equivalent and is essentially an aerated eraser which can remove any material drafted in graphite.

before and after.PNG

Deed 40966 (CERC) before and after cleaning

I then used a Stabler Mars eraser, to carefully rub away any particularly ingrained dirt areas, but only on the edges and at a distance from the media on the page. Once the surface had been cleaned, I used a soft goat’s hair brush to brush away any loose dirt and miniscule pieces of sponge. Both sides of a document are cleaned, and in some cases the reverse sides, before they were rehoused in archival boxes. It is important to note that conservation surface cleaning does not return an item to its original state. The process described only removes surface dirt that is not deeply ingrained. Documents that have been exposed to high humidity often look very similar before and after cleaning, as the dirt sinks in and sets in the paper when it is exposed to moisture.

before and after 2.PNG

ECF/11/4/392 (CERC) before and after cleaning

Once cleaned, the documents are carefully encapsulated in Melinex (archival quality polyester film) which is cut to a size just larger than the document and sealed on three sides. Any pieces of tracing paper that had been folded inside the plan are fully encapsulated, as any handling risks immediately damage to these fragile documents. The encapsulated tracing paper elements are then stored inside the Melinex envelope with the outer plan, so that all the elements that were stored together when they came to the lab are also together when they return.

Mary 6.jpg

G.2774 (CERC) after a full clean

An interesting consequence follows the flattening and encapsulation of documents; when they are returned to the storage facility they take up far more lateral space than when they left. In their new form they are best stored in plan chests or large conservation-grade portfolios rather than in archival boxes. In planning the equipment for the new library, more plan chests and wide shelves are being projected, so that there will be space to store objects that change format as a result of their conservation.

Coming to a Close

The latest blog post comes from Alexandra Wade (Preservation Project Assistant), who tells us about the conservation work that has been carried out on Lambeth Palace Library’s manuscript collection over the past 18 months.

In May of 2017 I joined the conservation team at Lambeth Palace Library as a Preservation Project Assistant. I was assigned to a specific project to clean and box 590 volumes in the early manuscript sequence; a project funded by the National Manuscript Conservation Trust (NMCT).

“In 2013 a cataloguing project funded by the Library Trustees completed in 2013, prompted a closer look at the collections condition and storage as well as promoted further use of this material. It was decided that a clean and re-boxing program was needed to protect and preserve the collection from environmental and handling damage as well as prepare the material for the move to the new library building in 2020.

MS 466

The binding of MS 466 

The early part of the manuscripts sequence contains a number of volumes from the Augustinian priory of Llantony, and they include such treasures as an Anglo-Saxon glossed psalter from the early 11th century (MS 427). Consequently, they are among the most important part of the holdings and a central resource for those using the Library’s reading room and other public services. They also form the subject of requests for loans to exhibitions, such as MS 306, a collection of 15th/16th century chronicles once owned by the antiquary John Stow, which was lent to Palace Green Library, Durham, for the ‘Magna Carta and the Changing Face of Revolt’ exhibition in 2015.”[1]

The overall focus was to undertake a programme of condition checking, cleaning and protecting.  This started with: a quick survey to identify initial conservation issues, which led on to mechanically dry cleaning each manuscript; whilst collecting any fragments including debris in the gutters; and to create a bespoke phase box.

MS 253

Ingress dirt within MS 253

Most of the collection is parchment which is often very susceptible to moisture. The material can expand in damp conditions rapidly and dramatically and we were keen to avoid this issue. By choosing a dry mechanical cleaning method we were able to remove the dust but add no dry or wet particulates to the original material.  A smoke sponge was used; originally developed for removing fire damage and soot from a wide range of materials; it is now a staple in conservation studios. Preservation Equipment Limited describes it as: “made of either vulcanized natural rubber, or our synthetic latex free material.”[2] The sponge is made with very tightly packed air bubbles throughout. When one puts pressure on the sponge when holding it, it creates a slight vacuum, sucking material and debris up into the sponge. It had a very positive effect on the text, paper and parchment. A decision was made not to take the sponge over the text. The inks used on texts of this age can be unstable and prone to breaking apart under pressure, therefore the sponge was only used on the marginalia and blank areas of the leaves.

brushes and sponge

Examples of hakes brushes and smoke sponge used in dry cleaning

To clean the main body of the leaves a hake brush was used. These are: “[f]lat, wide, soft, white goat hair brushes, gentle enough for delicate Japanese papers and tissues. Used for dusting, washing, sizing, mounting, gluing or spreading any thin media.”[3] Although exceptionally soft, these brushes are unable to be taken over red, green, or blue inks as these inks are more unstable than black ink and will lift if disturbed. Cleaning was carried out around these areas. Over time I acquired a selection of other natural hair brushes in different sizes that allowed removal of dust and debris from the guttering and from the folds in the pages.

The library and stores will be moving to a new, purpose-built building in 2020, therefore for the past year the conservation team has been packaging the volumes ready for transportation. To do this in-house a Zund project cutter was purchased which allows templates to be designed to suit our needs. There are two kinds of boxes: four flap and clam shell, which are allocated depending on the depth of the volume.

4

The manuscript sequence is now boxed

Using a book measurer, the exact dimensions of every book were taken and using the catalogue as reference, the correct name and item number were confirmed. Boxes are produced flat and then folded before fitting them to the book. We chose not to use a template that would require glue to assemble them but instead used tabs. This reduces the risk of adhesives finding their way onto the books over time and creating a conservation issue in the future.

Whilst undertaking the cleaning items of interest were found in the guttering of the books. Things such as: pressed flowers, finger nails, flies, and loose leaves of other material have all been found in texts. Instead of removing this material it has been kept it in situ, sometimes housed in an acid free paper to protect it if required. The manuscript number is written onto the envelope; should it ever be separated from its original document it can be slipped back into place. In the interest of maintaining the provenance of the item and the text, the additional piece must be re-inserted where it was found.  There has been a push in recent years to examine bindings, and the material that may be trapped in a binding and in the debris in the guttering. Such information may add provenance and understanding to the way the contemporary owners of these books lived, worked, and studied.

9

An unlucky fly within the pages of MS 20

The additional finds have been well received by tour groups and MS 573, within which the Islamic Star of David shown below was found, is to be the subject of our Item of Interest blog for this month. The additional finds (dust, pollen, seeds, hairs, friable pigment etc) can be scientifically analysed further to enhance any provenance data or to discover new historical context.

Judgements were made on the condition of the manuscript and in some cases, it was decided to place handling suggestions on the box and on the digital records. Consideration was given to: how secure the manuscript block was, if the manuscript leaves were detaching from the binding, the effectiveness of the binding cover as a protection for the manuscript leaves, specific damage to leaves, evidence of pest damage, and weakening of the binding components (both structurally and materially)-balanced alongside the risk of producing the manuscript to search room readers and for filming. This safeguards the manuscript from poor handling practices and protects the manuscript from stress damage. This first phase of cleaning allowed us to flag materials that may need future conservation in a further phase of work.

BeforeAfter2

An example of damage and the ingress dirt that can accumulate

The project was showcased to students visiting from Camberwell College of Arts and West Dean College, and tour groups from various backgrounds. By being in the studio I have been able to learn from the projects that colleagues are undertaking at the same time, some of which overlap with this project. I have also attended courses and lectures on topics that correspond with the collection and undertake additional research. Being able to handle, inspect, and work on the books provides depth and further understanding to their remote learning. It has been a great pleasure and privilege to be able to work on this project and the experience afforded to me has been invaluable.

conservation evening
Examples of manuscripts ready to exhibit at a Conservation Evening event

In total we have now cleaned 552 manuscripts and boxed 554.

[1] J. Atkinson, ‘Initial report’, National Manuscripts Conservation Trust, 2016 P. 1

[2] Preservation Equipment Limited, Smoke Sponges [website], 2018, https://www.preservationequipment.com/Catalogue/Cleaning-Products/Sponges-Cloths/Smoke-Sponges (accessed 2/06/2018)

[3] Preservation Equipment Limited, Hake Brushes [website], 2018, https://www.preservationequipment.com/Catalogue/Equipment-Tools/Brushes/Japanese-Brushes/Hake-Brushes (accessed 2/06/2018)