The gatekeepers of Lambeth Palace occupy a historic role, admitting visitors to the Archbishops. Unfortunately not all of the gatekeepers are named in the records held in the Library, although one is glimpsed in the picture of the Great Hall of Lambeth Palace during the trial of Edward King, Bishop of Lincoln, under Archbishop Benson in 1889. He is unfortunately unnamed in the key to the picture, but appears in profile in the centre of this section, with a moustache.

Detail from watercolour of the Lincoln Trial (MS 4285/1).

However, some details of the gatekeepers’ work emerge from the archives. Records documenting the role of the gatekeepers include recollections by a former gatekeeper of life at the Palace sent to Archbishop Tait in the 1880s (Tait 104 ff. 108-13). The role included not only admitting visitors at the gate house, but also extended to showing the buildings to more general visitors, reflecting the role of the Palace as a public space which continues today. Papers of Archbishop Davidson dating from 1903 (when he was newly in office as Archbishop) describe how the porter “should be responsible … for showing the Palace to sight-seers or tourists“, including the principal rooms and collection of portraits, when it is possible to do so “without dirtying the room – as, for example, when pedestrians come on a muddy day” (Davidson 86 ff. 1-3). The Library holds a slightly later scrapbook of Francis Neate Woodward (MS 2614), who worked as gatekeeper in the interwar period, containing notes and newspaper cuttings about Lambeth Palace, presumably used for this purpose. In 1906 two brothers of the Society of St John the Evangelist visited the Palace, where they were shown the mediaeval manuscripts in the Library by the porter – a “kind gentleman” who lived in Morton’s Tower and, a letter recounting the visit says, has the “history of England and especially of Lambeth at his fingers’ ends” (SSJE/6/5/2/2/7).

Davidson 22-30
View from Morton’s Tower, where the gatekeepers admit visitors to Lambeth Palace (Davidson 22/30). This photograph album dates from the primacy of Archbishop Davidson, but this view looks much the same today.

Further information on arrangements for visitors are found in the Library records and some of the most eminent visitors who came specifically to the Library are also recorded. There are visitors’ books too among records relating to Lambeth Palace.

More generally, records naming individual members of staff at Lambeth Palace are limited, but the household accounts of the Archbishops dating from the early 17th century onwards (TG) include payments to household servants. Earlier still, two account rolls acquired by the Library in 2006 reveal details of the household of the 16th-century Archbishops (MSS 4722-4723). In the modern period we find accounts of life at Lambeth Palace, for instance by the Archbishops’ chaplain Ian White-Thomson (MS 3120 ff. 310-24) and cook Audrey Heaton (Burnt the peas whilst washing the cherubs : the Lambeth Palace years of Audrey Heaton 1959-1974).


This blog post continues the series commemorating the centenary of the Great War. The Library’s holdings on the war include this poignant typescript list asking for prayers in Lambeth Palace chapel for relatives and friends of members of the Archbishop’s household.

Davidson 22-22
Davidson 22/22


Some names are annotated as ‘wounded’ or ‘missing’. The list includes those serving in the army and navy; prisoners of war; chaplains; nurses; the fallen. This item forms part of the papers of Randall Davidson. The names include his nephew Craufurd Ellison, who had been married in the chapel at Lambeth in the summer of 1914. This image of Lambeth Palace chapel comes from an album made for Craufurd Ellison by his nurse, Susannah Soan, c.1895.

MS4502 52
MS 4502/52


Other names on the list include Oliver Chase Quick, who served as chaplain to the Archbishop (1915-17) and subsequently as army chaplain; John Victor Macmillan, also Archbishop’s chaplain (1904-15) and later Bishop of Guildford; and Oswin Creighton, who was killed in action in 1918. He was the son of Mandell Creighton, the former Bishop of London, and his wife Louise, who published an edition of his letters after his death. Louise Creighton had published various papers for the wartime National Mission of Hope and Repentance in 1916. The Library also holds family letters of Mrs Creighton.

‘Faith seeking understanding’: Finding Saint Anselm at Lambeth Palace Library

Today marks the launch of the second year of The Community of Saint Anselm, a community of prayer, theological reflection and service, based at Lambeth Palace and established by Archbishop Justin Welby for Christians aged 20-35. The Community draws its name from Saint Anselm of Canterbury – a Benedictine monk, renowned scholar and Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 1114.  Standing out in history as a teacher, philosopher and theologian (Vaughn, 2012), Anselm expounded the close relationship between knowledge of God and love of God, encapsulated in his motto, ‘faith seeking understanding’.  It is therefore fitting that his prayers, letters and theological texts find a home among the manuscripts and earliest of printed books treasured in the Library of Lambeth Palace.

Arms of Archbishop Anselm, from MS 555 f.4

Anselm himself was committed to monastic life and learning.  Despite being turned away when he first sought to become a monk at the age of 15, he went on to become an influential Prior and Abbot of Bec monastery in France, where he taught the monks and wrote a number of works that gained him a reputation for deploying reason to understand faith, and developing the ontological argument for the existence of God (Shannon, 1999). These works can be found in a number of manuscripts held at Lambeth Palace Library, dating from the 12th to 15th century.  The earliest of these is a manuscript compilation of Anselm’s treatises and a collection of his letters, compiled and copied in the 1120s by historian and monk, William of Malmesbury (MS 224).

MS 224 f.152r, with headline and numbers added in red by Archbishop Parker

When asked to become Archbishop of Canterbury in 1093, Anselm saw it as his duty to lead the church in moral and doctrinal teaching, and to continue to develop his own understanding alongside that of his monks at Christ Church Canterbury (Shannon, 1999). It was here that the second earliest volume of Anselm’s work held at the Library was made, in the late 1120s: a major collection of letters that remained at the Cathedral Priory until the Dissolution (MS 59). 

MS 59 f.64

Along with several of the Anselm manuscripts in the Library today, both of these volumes feature in Archbishop Abbott’s catalogue of Archbishop Bancroft’s personal library, the founding collection of Lambeth Palace Library in 1610.  They also bear the classmarks of Cambridge University, where they would be preserved during the Commonwealth occupation of Lambeth Palace.  A list of contents written in the hand of Archbishop Sancroft in both volumes shows the care afforded to them on their return to Lambeth, while headlines added in MS 224 by Matthew Parker, Archbishop to Elizabeth I, and annotations in MS 59 believed to indicate Thomas Cranmer’s ownership (Selwyn, 1996), demonstrate that these volumes had long been the subject of close attention by earlier Archbishops. One annotator’s references to ‘alius liber epistolarum’ in MS 224 suggest that these volumes may even have been studied side by side.  Further enforcing the long-standing esteem in which Anselm’s works were held, these works can also be found adorned within presentation volumes, such as a fine late 14th or early 15th century illuminated copy of his meditations copied alongside work from Bernard of Clairvaux and undoubtedly prepared for a dignitary (MS 194).

MS 194 f.1

Thomas Becket requested Anselm’s canonization in 1163, shortly after his own appointment as Archbishop, and a copy of the Bull of Pope Alexander III responding to this request can be found in Lambeth’s collections (MS 159 f.76v). It lies within a volume of Saints’ Lives, bound for Archbishop Sancroft, which also contains a Life and Miracles of Anselm written by his chaplain and secretary, Eadmer of Canterbury, as well as the only known copy of Anselm’s Life written by John of Salisbury, Bishop of Chartres, on Thomas Becket’s request. The presence of a second bull regarding his canonization, however, listed within Archbishop Morton’s Register for 1494, suggests that he may not actually have been canonized until three centuries later (Reg. Morton 1, f.220).

The path did not run straight for Anselm, however, and the earliest archival item in the Library’s collections to make reference to him evidences the more troubled aspects of Anselm’s career. Thought to date from 1100, the document is a notice from King Henry I in Latin and English, confirming the ownership of Anselm and the Canterbury monks of all the lands that they held in the time of King Edward and King William I (CM/XI/1).  This marked the return of lands confiscated by William II after Archbishop Lanfranc’s death, which were temporarily given back as a condition of Anselm’s acceptance of the Archbishopric, but seized again in 1095 as part of the long-running Investiture Controversy over whether the King or Pope had primary authority to invest ecclesiastical symbols of office. Even after this notice, the Controversy continued and, having already spent five years of his office in exile in 1095-1100, Anselm was exiled again from 1103-1106, until the dispute was settled at the Synod of Westminster in 1107 (Kemp, [n.d.]).


It was during the earlier of these periods of exile during his tenure as Archbishop that Anselm completed what is often considered his greatest work, Cur Deus homo (“Why God was man”). This is the text printed in the earliest of 7 incunabula containing Anselm’s work held in Lambeth’s collection. Printed between 1474 and 1500 in the continental printing centres of Strasbourg, Passau, Nuremberg and Basel, they illustrate Anselm’s ongoing influence.  This first printed edition of Cur Deus homo is believed to have been printed in 1474 in Strasbourg by George Husner (F220.A6 [**]). Demonstrating Anselm’s typically rational approach, it is formulated as a dialogue between Anselm and his student, Boso, and argues for the necessity of Jesus’ nature as fully human and fully divine in order to atone for mankind’s sin against an infinite God (Williams, 2016). This copy was purchased in 2002 by the Friends of Lambeth Palace Library.

Cur Deus homo f.1r (F220.A6 [**], 1474)
This work features again amongst Lambeth’s incunabula, in an edition printed 11 years later in 1485 in Passau by Johann Petri (F220.A6 [**]).  Here it is bound with Anselm’s short narrative on the Passion of Christ, De planctu Marie, which again takes the form of a dialogue, this time between Anselm and the Virgin Mary, and aimed at a young audience. Bound with a copy of 5th-century priest Julianus Pomerius’ treatise, De vita contemplative, it still retains its original 15th century wooden boards and clasp, and was presented to the Library by the Friends in 2000.

F220.A6 [**] (1485) manuscript pastedown and printed title page
The attention of eminent writers, scholars and theologians is evident in these incunabula.  Opera [et] tractatus beati Anselmi archiepiscopi cantuariēn ordinis Sancti Benedicti (1491), carries a donor inscription gifting the book to Archbishop Tait from R.C. Jenkins in 1869 ([ZZ]1491.2). This was most likely the theological writer Robert Charles Jenkins, rector of Lyminge with Paddlesworth in Kent, and a frequent correspondent with Tait.

Donor inscription from Jenkins to Tait in [ZZ]1491.2, front pastedown
Significantly, one late 15th century edition of Anselm’s works ([ZZ]1500.7) has been signed by historian and martyrologist, John Foxe, who would later include Anselm’s history and letters in his Actes and Monuments. The copy retains its early 16th century blind-stamped binding by Nicholas Speirinck and, along with several of these incunabula, contains fine examples of manuscript waste used in the printed volume’s pastedowns. Its title handwritten on the fore-edge reminds us of the book’s history in libraries at one point shelved with the fore-edges displayed, while a second copy of this edition, transferred from Sion College Library, displays the staple marks of hasps from its previous residence in a chained library (L40.4/43). Sion’s copy also retains a contemporary blind-tooled calf binding with a dragon motif, listed on the animals roll as made in Cambridge.

John Foxe’s inscription on the title page of [ZZ]1500.7
Anselm’s presence in the collections continues throughout the centuries, with further volumes of his works and studies on them dating from the 16th century through to the modern day.  As the second year of the Community of Saint Anselm gets underway, these volumes are further testimony to the influence of this faithful monastic theologian at Lambeth Palace and in Christian thought from the 11th century to today.

Title page of D. Anselmi Cantuariensis archiepiscopi … in omnes sanctissimi Pauli apostoli epistolas enarrationes … printed in 1533 in Coloniae (E2649.(A6) [**])

Further reading and bibliography

  • Kemp, John Arthur, ‘Saint Anselm of Canterbury: Archbishop and philosopher, in Encyclopaedia Britannica (n.d.)
  • Selwyn, D.G., The Library of Thomas Cranmer (Oxford, 1996)
  • Shannon, William H., Anselm: the joy of faith (New York: Crossroad, 1999)
  • Sharpe, Richard, ‘Collecting Anselm’, in Lambeth Palace Library: treasures from the collection of the Archbishops of Canterbury, edited by Richard Palmer and Michelle P. Brown (London: Scala, 2010), pp.38-39
  • Vaughn, Sally N., Archbishop Anselm 1093-1109: Bec missionary, Canterbury Primate, Patriarch of another world (Farnham: Ashgate, 2012)
  • Williams, Thomas, ‘Saint Anselm‘, in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward N. Zalta (2016)

The First World War and Lambeth Palace

Among the papers of Archbishop Davidson survives a typescript list of relatives and friends of members of the Lambeth Palace household serving in the War (ref: LPL Davidson 22). It includes the name Craufurd Ellison, a reminder of the connections between three episcopal families whose relationships are documented by the Library’s holdings. Craufurd Tait Ellison was the son of Agnes Sitwell Ellison (née Tait), she in turn the youngest daughter of Archibald Campbell Tait (Archbishop of Canterbury 1868-82) and Catharine Spooner Tait.

Agnes Tait and her sisters
Agnes Tait and her sisters (ref: MS 4502/41)

Agnes (b. 1860) died in 1888 after giving birth to her son Craufurd, soon after her marriage in January that year. She was buried at Addington, where the Archbishops had a Palace at that period. The 1891 census shows her young son living with his widowed father, his father’s brother and sister, his grandfather, and four female servants (including his nannie, Susannah Soan), in Warwick Square (Pimlico). By 1901 he was at school in Rottingdean, Sussex.

The name Craufurd was resonant in the Tait family, as it was earlier the name both of the Archbishop’s father (d. 1832), and of the Taits’ only son, also a clergyman: Craufurd Tait (b. 1849) had died in 1878, followed soon after by his grieving mother, both memorialized in an account published after their deaths by the Archbishop. The family’s history is well-known for the earlier loss in 1856 of five of their seven children to scarlet fever, leaving only Craufurd and one sister surviving. Further daughters were born to the Taits after the tragedy. The Library holds records of the Tait family, including this photograph picturing Agnes (standing), Lucy (left) and Edith (ref: LPL MS 4502 item 41), and also including letters and papers on the engagement and marriage of Agnes Tait to John Henry Joshua Ellison (another clergyman) and her death (ref: LPL MS 4499 ff. 215-233, MS 4500 item 2).

Craufurd Ellison was thereby the nephew of Archbishop Davidson, though his wife Edith (née Tait), who was Agnes’s sister. Randall Davidson was a friend of their brother Craufurd Tait (the Library holds records of a tour of Egypt and Palestine they made together in 1872-3, ref: LPL MSS 1602-1603), who was instrumental in Davidson’s ordination to the ministry by his father Archbishop Tait; Davidson subsequently became the Archbishop’s chaplain.

In the 1911 census Ellison, then in his early twenties, was already serving in the military, a 2nd Lieutenant, and his marriage certificate records that he was married to Marjorie Wynyard (daughter of a retired Colonel) in the chapel at Lambeth Palace on 2 August 1914, with Archbishop Davidson officiating and Edith Davidson among the witnesses (also recorded in the Chapel register, ref: LPL MS 2886 p. 33).

Marriage record of Craufurd Ellison
Marriage of Craufurd Ellison (ref: MS 2886 page 33)

The marriage was by special licence issued on behalf of the Archbishop – the number of licences for August 1914 is noticeably increased over the same period the preceding year, presumably owing to the circumstances of the War (ref: LPL FM III/23). The Library holds letters to Randall and Edith Davidson from and concerning their nephew, including letters of 1890-1 written on behalf of the infant Craufurd enumerating his activities such as spinning his top and feeding the ducks, and early letters in his own hand (including one to Uncle “Wrangle”). A letter from his nannie written soon after his wedding in 1914 describes the sun suddenly shining on the bridal couple as Craufurd put on the ring, recalling the moment when the same thing occurred as his mother first held her child in 1888. There are also letters of farewell following the outbreak of War in 1914 and reporting Craufurd’s injury in the early months of War (ref: LPL MS 4499 ff. 234-289). Following his war service with the King’s Royal Rifles, he is listed (in Kelly’s Directory 1920) as a Captain living in Wiltshire. He died as a Major in 1942, his name appearing on the war memorial in Wilton, Wiltshire alongside that of John Damer Craufurd Ellison (b. 1915), his only son, who died on war service in North Africa the following year. He also had a daughter (b. 1919) – another Agnes, like his mother.

The Library also holds records of the Ellison family among the papers of Gerald Ellison (Bishop of London 1973-81). He was the son of John Henry Joshua Ellison (1855-1944), who had married Agnes. Craufurd Ellison was thereby the (much older) half-brother of Gerald (b. 1910), who was the son of John’s second wife. Among the family material which survives in the Ellison papers are visitors’ books from the family homes dating from 1901 onwards – including the signature of Craufurd Tait Ellison (ref: LPL Ellison P/2/2).

Additional information from genealogical sources on the Ancestry website.

Roger Payton FRSA

Bishop's Walk, Lambeth
Bishop’s Walk, Lambeth

We were saddened to hear of the recent death of Mr Roger Payton FRSA.  Mr Payton had been a staunch friend to and supporter of the Library for twenty-five years and will be greatly missed. Our sympathies go to his family and friends.

Over the years Mr Payton gave the Library an extensive and fascinating collection of mainly eigtheenth and nineteenth century prints and paintings, depicting Lambeth Palace and the surrounding area, and has lent the Library many more. These prints are not only an important research resource but have, over the years, given great pleasure to many visitors to the Library who will have seen them on display in the Great Hall.