Manuscripts in the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms

Two Library staff attended an exciting and ground-breaking conference held at the British Library on December 13th and 14th, 2018. The British Library represents one of the world’s leading centres in the study of manuscripts and conservation, and its reputation for cutting-edge scholarship, not to mention the once in a lifetime exhibition, made it the ideal place to hold a conference around the theme of Manuscripts in the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms. The conference was conceived and organized by Dr Claire Breay, who is the Library’s Head of Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts. She introduced the event by announcing that the intent of the conference was to “cover the history of the literature, culture, and the interconnectedness of this world,” and, by bringing these manuscripts together for the first time, allowed scholars unprecedented access not only to the manuscripts as physical objects but also to the full suite of digitisation and chromatization technologies available from the British Library. Together, conference participants worked to define and propose methodologies for the study and understanding of these documents and their wider world. The opportunity that this conference provided, bringing in a diverse group of Anglo-Saxon historians, palaeographers, conservationists, linguists, and art historians, made for a truly diverse range of speakers and ideas. The papers touched on manuscripts produced in Merovingian and Carolingian France, Irish and English monastic communities, the transport of manuscripts as items and gifts, and the use and symbolism of music.

The first day of the conference primarily focused on the Irish and English manuscripts in the collection with papers which challenged previous scholarly assumptions about the origin of the Lindisfarne Gospels, and the use and transmission of writing styles. Following his opening address, Dr Lawrence Nees set the stage for the conference with a paper that looked at the central question of “The European context of manuscript illumination in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, 600-900”. Throughout his presentation, he continued to lay out other fundamental questions that persistently resurfaced in the discussions that occurred over the next two days: the difficulties of the commonly used dynastic labels, the intertangled cultures, the difficulties of reading stylistic images, and the importance of focusing on the individuals who made the manuscripts as well as the wider culture. As a result, Dr Nees proposed that, for the purposes of the conference, we consider the connection of scribes and the migration of ideas. He suggested that the static image that tends to prevail of individualised communities, whist being useful for classification, may not be as representative as once thought. He called attention to the fact that historians’ tendency to focus on the larger, or more complete, works has considerably limited our knowledge of the variety, diversity and interconnectedness that existed in society. Studying the art and world of the Anglo-Saxons is therefore crucial, since it significantly widens our understanding of history during this period.

The second session began with Dr Daibhi O Croini (NUI Galway), whose paper entitled “Durham A.II.10 – the original Lindisfarne Gospels” examined the two-way influence of Irish and Saxon art. In looking at the precursors to the Gospels O Croini examined the changing monographs and decorations of the Capitals and the use of letter forms. He drew on the contemporary translation of a Greek paternoster showing how the spelling of the Greek words using Latin letters was indicative of Irish pronunciation.

The second session continued with a presentation by Dr Bernard Meehan (Trinity College Dublin), whose paper, “The Corpus-Ortho-Royal/ Cambridge-London/ Parker-Cotton-Wolsey Gospels,” championed anew the idea that it is a single manuscript. albeit one with a complicated history, rather than several different texts. One of the primary challenges facing scholars working on historical manuscripts is the individual nature of each piece. Dr Meehan’s study provided an example of how such limitations could be overcome by careful palaeographic analysis of the source and by placing the text in the wider contextual environment. Next, Dr Richard Gameson (Durham University) presented “Copying scripture at Wearmouth-Jarrow,” which took a more palaeographical look and considered issues of copying and craftsmanship to shed light on the Monumental Bible. He focused in particular on the interaction of Uncial, ½ Uncial, and Carolingian scripts and the comparative hierarchy of scripts. He examined how textual choices demonstrate how people thought about text and how they wanted to present the world.

Following lunch, the next panel commenced with Dr Immo Warntjes (Trinity College Dublin), whose presentation, “Willibrord: harbinger of the Carolingian Renaissance,” challenged scholars’ conception of the origins of Carolingian scripts and their relation to the Anglo-Saxon world. Dr Joanna Story (University of Leicester) then presented a paper, “Insular art and script in Carolingian Europe,” examining the distribution of Insular script and Insular culture as opposed to Carolingian script: how its particularly localised appearance and forms could be traced to differential patronage and fashion as opposed to more destructive ideas. Next, Dr Rosamond McKiterick (Sidney Sussex College Cambridge) presented a paper entitled “Links with Rome and the Franks in the light of some Anglo-Saxon manuscripts” Her study of a series of manuscripts considered how the transport and transmission of knowledge showed the importance of the interconnected religious sites in the Anglo-Saxon period. The cultural exchange of books and people was as important a feature of this world as the individual works themselves and to attempt to separate them into distinct spheres was a mistake. This linked very well with the keynote speech on the European context of Anglo-Saxon manuscripts.

The presenters for the next session were Dr Rosalind Love (Robinson College, Cambridge) who read a paper on going “Back into Bede’s Library.” She argued that his library was constructed of a mixture of owned works and borrowed books. She looked at how the books would have been constructed and construed and what they would have looked like (plain, lacking illumination and annotations) as well as how the collection would have balanced original or “scholarly editions” of works. Next was Dr Teresa Webber (Trinity College, Cambridge), whose research focused on “The lector and lectio in Anglo-Saxon England.” Dr Webber’s paper provided an informative survey of how books were viewed (visualisation, visual impact) and used (read aloud, aural impact). She focussed on the ways in which people reacted or related to the works and the responsibility associated with the act of reading books and reading them well. Following Dr Webber’s paper, the first day of the conference wrapped up with a pair of fascinating talks by Dr Winfried Rudolf (University of Göttingen) on “The return of the Vercelli Book: new observations on its Italian provenance” and Dr Andy Orchard (Pembroke, Oxford) on “The Uniqueness of Beowulf”. Dr Rudolf’s examination of this work looked at the possibility of it being a surviving example of a larger tradition or as a companion text to a larger cycle. He also highlighted the fact that whoever copied the book reproduced it down to the mistakes and obscurities suggesting the scribe’s unfamiliarity with both old English and Latin. Finishing the day, Dr Orchard put forward the argument that rather than being an orally composed poem, Beowulf was conceived as a written text, focusing on the poet’s use of language and the unique sound world in which the poem exists.

The second day addressed a similarly wide variety of topics. Elaine Treharne (Stanford University) kicked off with an introduction to her work as a Welsh medievalist, focusing on Manuscript Studies and Early English literature. Her paper, “Post-Conquest Old English Manuscripts from a distance,” outlined the various sources available for the study of history by contemporaries, focusing on the Letter to Eadwine, asking whether the letter, an obvious forgery, was meant to be accurate to an imagined past or was it an attempt to construct a culture for a contemporary group. The next presenter, Dr David Johnson (Florida State University), who spoke on “The transmission and reception of Alfredian Apocrypha” pushed against the scholarly assumption of the dialogues as apocrypha, looking at the lack of quality, the place of composition and the loose association to Alfred. Instead, his research revealed how by examining the marginalia and looking at similarities between it and WLKK 3.18 and Cotton Tiberius BL Orosius one can detect patterns in their construction. The first session ended with Dr Jon Wilcox (University of Iowa), “The Wolf Howls Twice: Wulfstan’s Writing and Scribal Repetition”, looking at the exposure of new Wulfstan writing using chromatic photography. He produced a previously illegible page and showed how, after using this process, the page could not only be read but reconstructed so clearly as to allow for an in-depth paleographical analysis, leading to the theory that this page was meant as a draft or working out of a sermon.

The second session of the morning commenced with a paper by Dr Francesca Tinti (University of the Basque Country). Her presentation, “Anglo-Saxon Travelers and their Books”, examined books made for transport and the logistics that this involved and asked how we can recognise books designed for traveling. Dr Simon Keynes (University of Cambridge) continued the discussion with a focus on the Canterbury letter book. His paper introduced compelling evidence of the rich diversity of a ‘society of letters’ existing right across Europe at that time, including some of the earliest references to trade. Finally, we heard from Dr Michael Gullick (Independent Researcher), whose research on “Across the North Sea: Anglo-Saxon Liturgical Manuscripts in Norway and Sweden’” aims to create a compilation of Old English fragments found in parish churches in Scandinavia, looking at who wrote them and how they were constructed. Since few representations of these have been studied extensively, they provide a fascinating resource of unknown works.

Following lunch, the conference reconvened for the next two sessions. Dr Catherine Karkov (University of Leeds) started off the afternoon with her paper, “Negotiating Difference in the Wonders of the East”, which examined a series of images depicting the transformation of bodies and monsters in the text, looking at how their locations were always in relation to known places but never located themselves, as well as their relation to gender, conflict, and the question of categorisations used by artists and writers. Dr Sue Brunning (The British Museum) presented on “Saying Things: Anglo-Saxon Inscribed Objects in the British Museum” discussing the use of writing on items held at the British Museum including rings, bowls, and swords found in various forms throughout Europe. The question was asked what the name represented: ownership, a guarantee of quality, or commemoration?

The conference continued with a presentation from Helen Gittos (University of Oxford) whose paper “In their mother tongue: the use of Old English in Anglo-Saxon liturgy” addressed the importance of assessing this field whilst divorcing it from post Reformation thinking. Through her research she established that the use of the vernacular was to facilitate comprehension. It was used in confessions, tending to the sick, and can be found in the excommunications. It appears to be used also in trial by ordeal and the penitential ritual. This suggests that it was used when the performance of liturgy was less important than ensuring comprehension and clarity. This was followed by Dr Susan Rankin (University of Cambridge) who offered a paper entitled “A Fleury model for singing at Winchester” where she worked to determine the forms and uses of the two voice troper found in the chant books. She looked at how the notation used represented a musical reality linked to a common practice but still showing a direct link to the various Benedictine communities. She also examined the links of the troper to Winchester and its possible use in the crowning of Edward the Confessor. Her talk ended with a brief performance of two parts of the music.

The day and conference ended with the keynote by Dr Julia Crick (Kings College London) with a talk on “English Scribal Culture in an Age of Conquest, 900–1100”. She began by thanking the British Library for their work in digitizing so many of the manuscripts and went on to examine what the Norman conquest changed in Anglo-Saxon manuscript culture. She noted that the main signifier that is used, Carolingian script, can present an artificial distinction and asked instead what the use of script can tell us about the scribe, their training, and collaborations. She ended by calling for a broadening of the models used by Anglo-Saxon historians and the importance of learning from cognate studies.

One crucial issue raised by many of the conference papers was the need to reformulate and widen our notions surrounding the category of “Anglo-Saxon.” Many of the works that were discussed in the presentations have been shown to be located in a much wider and more diverse European context. It offered the opportunity re-examine manuscripts in light of advances in technology and practice, as well as the once in a lifetime opportunity to see all of these manuscripts in one place as part of the stunning associated exhibit.

The conference proved that studying the cultural production of the elite can only take us so far in our understanding of art and society until we hit a wall. The Art of the Poor started a conversation that needs to continue within the field. As scholars and as educators, it is essential that we encourage research and discussions in the classroom that revolve around questions concerning the less privileged members of the population and the role that art played in their lives.

MS 1370 ff. 4v-5r: on display in the British Library Anglo-Saxon exhibition

February 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.  Every two months, we post here a brief update on some of our latest acquisitions, projects and upcoming events, to keep you up-to-date with our most recent news.

This month’s new accessions

Some highlights from our recent new acquisitions include:


Upcoming events

London’s Unseen Chapels: From the Notebooks of Canon Clarke

Wednesday 22 March, 6pm-8.30pm (admittance, by ticket only, from 5pm)In Lambeth Palace Library Great Hall.

Page from Canon Clarke's notebook (Clarke/1/1)

An event to celebrate the life and work of Canon Basil Fulford Lowther Clarke (1908-1978). From the age of fifteen, Basil Clarke kept a record on the architecture and architects of Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches and Chapels which he visited, predominately in England and Wales but also in Europe, Asia, Africa and America. The Cathedral and Church Buildings Division, Lambeth Palace Library, and the Church of England Record Centre, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, are mounting a joint exhibition which brings to life the hidden world of London’s chapels.

The event will include a lecture by Dr Jennifer Freeman, architectural writer, lecturer, historian and former Director of Historic Chapels Trust, entitled ‘London’s Churches and Chapels; a Miscellany’, followed by a wine reception. Please follow the link to register your interest for this free event:

An evening with the Library’s Conservators

Thursday 6 April, 6pm-7.30pm (admittance not before 5.45pm).  In Lambeth Palace Library conservation studio.

Conservation studio
Library conservation studio

An opportunity to view the conservation studio and discuss techniques and treatments with the Library’s conservation staff.

Tickets £10 per head, to include a glass of wine. Numbers will be limited. Please note that the conservation studio is reached by a medieval spiral staircase. Please book in advance with Juliette Boyd, Lambeth Palace Library,  or telephone 020 7898 1400, not later than Friday 31 March. 

Liturgical Books and the Medieval Library: A talk by Dr Tessa Webber (Trinity College, Cambridge)

Tuesday 6 June, 5.30pm (admittance not before 5pm). In Lambeth Palace Library Great Hall

MS 455 f.28: Sarum Hours
MS. 455 f.28

It has long been conventional in the history of books and book collections of the Middle Ages to draw a distinction between liturgical books and library books. In practice, however, the use made of the books and the arrangements for their storage and custody suggest that the distinction was sometimes less clear-cut. Tessa Webber will examine such evidence to question how far the conventional bi-partite categorisation of books as ‘liturgical’ and ‘library’ reflects the way in which books were conceived during the Middle Ages.

In association with the University of London research seminar on the History of Libraries. All are welcome, but those wishing to attend are asked to register with not later than Monday 5 June.


Archives news: Runcie Papers, CFR, library records and digitised Book of Hours

Portrait of Archbishop Runcie from Lambeth Palace
Portrait of Archbishop Runcie from Lambeth Palace

Records from 1986 which form part of the papers of Archbishop Runcie were released for research. Cataloguing work was completed on the records of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) relating to the Orthodox Church in Russia and the Ukraine, and also included the CFR publications bureau which facilitated contact between clergy and others in the UK and contacts overseas. Descriptions of the photographs in the CFR archive are now also available. For more information on these collections please see the online archives catalogue. Work to re-catalogue the Library’s historic records 1785-1952 has been completed and has produced a new source guide on the Library website.

Additions to the image database include MS 3338, a late 15th-century Book of Hours (Use of Rome), written in Italy in humanist script. Further blog posts relating to the Library’s collections on the First World War cover army chaplains, and the ration book of the Lambeth Librarian, Claude Jenkins. Library material continues to feature on the website of the John Newton Project.

Record Centre update: Queen Victoria Clergy Fund, Hospital Chaplaincies Council, Mowbray Wippel and Warham Guild papers

The collections listed below have been fully catalogued. Links to the online catalogue are included in the names.

  • Queen Victoria, from Prints 023/142
    Queen Victoria, depicted in Prints 023/142

    Queen Victoria Clergy Fund – formed to raise support and funds both from diocesan bodies and the laity to augment the incomes of poor clergy, similar to the efforts made by Queen Anne’s Bounty (founded in 1704) and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners (founded in 1836). It emerged directly from two lay organisations dedicated to ameliorating clerical hardship – the Tithe Redemption Trust (or Fund) in 1846 and the Church of England Incumbents’ Sustentation Fund in 1873 – both of which were ultimately absorbed into the Queen Victoria Clergy Fund (in 1899 and 1897 respectively). This collection contains materials relating to the operation of the QVCF and its subsidiary funds between 1848 and 1995,

  • Hospital Chaplaincies Council The Hospital Chaplaincies Commission was appointed by the Church Assembly in 1946 to enquire into the Church’s ministration to mentally ill people in institutions, to consult with the Minister of Health re. the future of the provision of such a service in the National Health Service (NHS), the specific training for the role, and the status of chaplains in other types of health institution.
  • Mowbray Wippel and Warham Guild papers This collection comprises designs and photographs of completed works by church furnishers A.R Mowbray and Company Limited; brochures and catalogues of church furnishing companies including A.R Mowbray, and material relating to the Warham Guild prior to its merger with Wippell Mowbray Church Furnishing Limited.

‘Books and their owners’: recently exhibited items from the Sion College Collection

Owl illustration from [A68.7/K52]
This week, an array of material from the Sion College Collection (now held at Lambeth Palace Library) was showcased in an exhibition focussing on books and their owners.  Highlights from the exhibition included:

  1. Eastern Orthodox Church. Pentēkostarion, Moscow, 1704 [A32.2/P38] Some of the books in the Sion College collection have travelled great distances over their long lives. They have crossed borders, survived wars and conflagrations, and passed through the hands of numerous owners. Inscriptions on the endpapers of this Russian liturgical text record that it was taken from Sebastopol during the Crimean War on 9th September 1855, the day after the fall of the Great Redan. Removed by Charles Kinnear, surgeon on HMS Rodney, it was then gifted to the Scottish epidemiologist, Dr James Ormiston McWilliam, who served as medical officer to the Niger expedition. The book arrived in Sion College in 1867 through an acquaintance of McWilliam’s, the Reverend Joseph Maskell.
  2. Antiquae musicae auctores septem Graece et Latine, Amsterdam: Louis Elzevir, 1652 [G81.1/M47] Though long regarded as a key work on the history of Ancient Greek music, the Sion copy of Antiquae musicae auctores septem Graece et Latine is especially notable for the rich provenance that it displays. As well as extensive marginalia, on the front flyleaf of the book there is a manuscript inscription which reads “J W Callcott. Bought of Mr. Faulder Bond St. out of the collection of Dr. Shepherd, Canon of Windsor” and it has proved possible to trace each of the individuals named and thereby understand the intriguing hands that the volume has passed through during its history. John Wall Callcott (1766-1821) was a renowned English composer, famed for the glees that he composed including Drink to me only with thine eyes. He purchased the book from Robert Faulder (1747/48-1815), a bookbinder and bookseller who operated from New Bond Street in the late 18th century, who was once hauled to court under suspicion of libel. Faulder acquired the book from the collection of Dr Anthony Shepherd (1721-1796) who rose to fame as an astronomer and held the position of Plumian Professor at the University of Cambridge from 1760 until his death in 1796. Described by one of his contemporaries as “dullness itself”, a little colour is added to his character through his friendship with Captain Cook, who named the Shepherd Islands after him. This brief example illustrates well the intriguing links and unexpected histories that can be uncovered through cataloguing.
  3. The alchemist's laboratory, seen in [A68.7/K52]
    Khunrath, Heinrich. Amphitheatrum sapientiae aeternae, Hanau, 1609 [A68.7/K52] Heinrich Khunrath (c.1560-1605) was a German physician, philosopher and influential alchemist who worked in the court of Emperor Rudolph II. His most famous work is the Amphitheatrum sapientiae aeternae [Amphitheater of eternal wisdom], a treatise on the mystical aspects of Christianity and alchemy which contains the engraving entitled “The first stage of the great work”, better-known as the “Alchemist’s laboratory”. This copy came to Sion College from the extensive library of Edward Waple (1647-1712), Vicar of St. Sepulchre’s and Archdeacon of Taunton. A lifelong bibliophile with a fine taste in books, Waple left more than 3,000 volumes to Sion College Library in his will. 


Screenshot from ColorOurCollections
Screenshot from ColorOurCollections

This year Lambeth Palace Library contributed to the #ColorOurCollections initiative spearheaded by the New York Academy of Medicine. Not only did we use the hashtag to highlight Lambeth Palace and Sion College Library material on social media (joining some 3,755 tweets on Twitter), but we also registered as one of 105 participating organisations on the main website and submitted a sample of colouring book pages for users to download and enjoy. Thus far the website has received over 300,000 views and has gained some media interest. You can see Lambeth’s contribution here (, but there are plans for a larger scale project form Lambeth in the future.

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, Pinterest and Instagram, as well as on our blog.

August 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.  Every two months, we post here a brief update on some of our latest acquisitions, projects and upcoming events, to keep you up-to-date with our most recent news.

Our latest modern accessions

Some highlights from our most recent acquisitions include:

For more regular updates on new accessions to the library, please follow us on Facebook.

Upcoming events

Lambeth Heritage Festival

LWatercolour of Lambeth Palaceambeth Palace Library is delighted to be the main partner for this year’s Lambeth Heritage Festival, a month-long showcase of the very best of Lambeth’s heritage and history. The Festival runs throughout September, and is led by Lambeth Archives and the Lambeth Local History Forum. The full programme can be viewed here.

Lambeth Palace Library will be offering the following events:

A Monument of Fame: Lambeth Palace Library’s Collections and Work

Saturday 3 September, 11.45am-12.30pm
At Michael Church, 131 Burton Road, SW9 6TG (part of a day of events for Lambeth Archives Open Day – full details on pages 26-27 of the Festival Brochure)

Lambeth Palace Library, founded in 1610, has a rich collection of manuscripts and archives, dating from the ninth century covering the history of the Church of England as well as wider British and Commonwealth history. This talk gives an overview of some of this fascinating material and of how it is used today.

‘Lambeth and its Palace’ Exhibition

Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays from  Monday 5 September to Thursday 29 September, with the exception of 26 September and the afternoons of 22 and 29 September, entry at 11am, 12 noon, and 3pm. At Lambeth Palace

An exhibition of images, documents and objects from the collections of Lambeth Archives and Lambeth Palace Library, displayed in Lambeth Palace’s seventeenth-century Great Hall. The exhibition explores the history of the Palace, the surrounding area, and its role in Lambeth’s history. Entry is by timed, escorted groups only, meeting at the main gate of Lambeth Palace. Duration of visit is 45 minutes.

Booking essential for groups of five or more: email or phone 020 7898 1400.

Library Open Afternoons

Mondays 12 and 19 September, 12 pm-3pm
At Lambeth Palace Library

Visit our reading room and learn more about our collections, services, and talk to staff.  Entry is via the Library entrance on Lambeth Palace Rd. There is no need to book. Contact or 020 7898 1400 with queries.

Exploring Eden:

Adam and Eve in [ZZ] 1488.5A Symposium exploring how the Garden of Eden has inspired the design, making, and imagining of gardens.
Wednesday 5 October 2016, 10am to 4pm, Lambeth Palace Great Hall

A partnership between Lambeth Palace Library and the Garden Museum.


  • Dr Jennifer Potter, author of Strange Blooms: The Curious Lives and Adventures of the John Tredescants and The Rose on ‘the Tredescants’ quest for Eden.
  • Dr James Bartos, garden historian, on ‘The Spirituall Orchard: God, Garden and Landscape in the 17th Century’.
  • Scott Mandelbrote, Director of Studies in History, Peterhouse, Cambridge on ‘Eden: the Bible and the Gardeners’.
  • Christopher Woodward, Director of the Garden Museum, on ‘The search for Paradise from Captain Bligh to Stanley Spencer’.
  • Margaret Willes, author of The Making of the English Gardener on ‘Working Class Edens’.
  • Tom Stuart-Smith, landscape designer, on ‘Revisiting Paradise’.

The Symposium is also an opportunity to see books and manuscripts from Lambeth Palace Library, including plans of the Palace gardens, introduced by Giles Mandelbrote, Librarian of Lambeth Palace Library. At lunchtime you can visit the Palace gardens with Head Gardener, Nick Stewart.

£60 (£45 for Friends of Lambeth Palace Library and Friends of the Garden Museum) to include lunch. Please visit or contact

Concert of Tudor Polyphony performed by The Sixteen

Page of music from the Arundel Choirbook (MS 1)Wednesday 26 October, 7pm (entry from 6.15pm), Lambeth Palace Great Hall

Sacred music by Robert Fayrfax, Nicholas Ludford and John Sheppard. This concert, held in the Great Hall of Lambeth Palace, will focus on works from the Arundel Choirbook (Lambeth Palace Library MS 1), which will be on display. Followed by a reception in the Guard Room.

Tickets will cost in the region of £60 and further details will be available later in the year on the Library’s website. Those wishing to register interest should send their names in advance to Juliette Boyd, Lambeth Palace Library (

News from the Archives

Broughton Missal (MS 5066)Newly catalogued archive material includes a letter of the divine and Hebraist Hugh Broughton (1549-1612) given by the Friends of Lambeth Palace Library. Also received by donation was an album of photographs and other material collected by Cecil Douglas Horsley (1903-1953), bishop of Gibraltar, largely relating to the 1948 Lambeth Conference. A further section of the papers of the Council on Foreign Relations (1933-1982) relating to the Orthodox Churches was completed. Interns catalogued files relating to the relationship of the Incorporated Church Building Society with individual dioceses, and enhanced catalogue data for the plans of Lambeth Palace created by the architect Edward Blore (1787-1879) and for one of the manuscripts relating to early modern Ireland collected by Sir George Carew (1555-1629). Work to re-catalogue the Library’s historic records continues. For more information on these collections please see the online archives catalogue.

Items in the Library collection relating to Thomas Becket were displayed at a symposium on the medieval Archbishop. Some of the items are also available to view in the online image database. Further additions have been made to the image database using the ‘book’ display feature, including the Broughton Missal acquired in 2015.

The negligent choir of Westminster

Lambeth Palace Library regularly loans items from its collections to other institutions for their exhibitions. For example, in 2013 the Death Warrant of Mary, Queen of Scots was lent to the National Museums Scotland for a major exhibition on the life of that ill-fated Queen and a copy of Basilika: the workes of King Charles the Martyr, that had been expurgated by the Inquisition in Lisbon, was lent to Tate Britain for their exhibition Art under Attack: Histories of British Iconoclasm. We have had many requests for exhibition loans for this year and next and earlier this month one of our conservators installed a book at the Foundling Museum as part of an exciting new exhibition.

Annotated Coronation Service
Annotated copy of Coronation service of George II

The book in question was presented to the Library by Archbishop Secker in 1767 and is entitled The form and order of the service that is to be performed and of the ceremonies that are to be observed, in the coronation of their Majesties King George II and Queen Caroline, in the Abby Church of S. Peter, Westminster, on Wednesday the 11th of October, 1727 (London:  John Baskett, 1727). It is known as Lambeth Palace Library MS 1079b, as it is heavily annotated by Archbishop William Wake, who presided at the coronation.

The service does not seem to have gone as well as it might have, as Wake’s annotations in the book make clear. He notes, for example, that the first anthem was omitted due to “the negligence of the choir of Westminster”and describes a later anthem as being sung “in confusion”. Even Zadok the Priest, the  anthem composed especially for the Coronation of George II, and sung at the coronation of every British monarch since, was sung in the wrong place.

If you would like to see this fascinating book it is on display in By George! Handel’s Music for Royal Occasions, which runs from 7 February to 18 May 2014 at the Foundling Museum, 40 Brunswick Square, London WC1N 1AZ.

Lambeth Bible and Maidstone Bible to be re-united

Illuminated initial from Lambeth Bible MS3 showing Isaiah being sawn in two
Isaiah being sawn in two. Lambeth Palace Library MS3 f198v

The Lambeth Bible, a giant illuminated Bible of the mid-twelfth century, is one of the finest examples in this country of Romanesque book illustration and one of the greatest treasures of Lambeth Palace Library, where it has been since 1610. The second volume of the Bible, separated from it during the sixteenth century and only identified in 1924, is now at Maidstone Museum.

By kind permission of Maidstone Museum, and in conjunction with Christopher de Hamel’s lecture to the Friends of Lambeth Palace Library, Who commissioned the Lambeth Bible?, both Bibles will be on display in the Great Hall of Lambeth Palace, offering an historic opportunity to see the two manuscripts together for only the second time since the Reformation.
Lecture (for Friends of Lambeth Palace Library): 3pm, Tuesday 4 June, in the Great Hall, Lambeth Palace SE1 7JU

Wednesday 5 June at 11am, 12 noon, 2pm and 3pm
Thursday 6 June at 11am, 12 noon, 2pm and 3pm

Viewing on these two days is free and open to all, but please book in advance, giving your name, contact details and choice of day and time. Access at these times only via the main Gatehouse of Lambeth Palace (opposite Lambeth Bridge), where a register of names will be kept.

To book a viewing, email: or tel: 020 7898 1263.

To join the Friends of Lambeth Palace Library, please see the Library’s website:

Sponsored by the Friends of Lambeth Palace Library