Work during lockdown

Working at home since lockdown began in March, Library staff have had to reprioritise work since access to the collections on site has not been possible. Although requiring new priorities, this has presented an opportunity to add content to catalogues; work on projects to enhance existing data; and disseminate existing data for wider access.

For example, you can now view additional images uploaded to our online system, including selected images from the Archbishops’ Registers which have been digitised. These include this striking image of the arms of Archbishop Pole.


From more recent times, we are also adding a fine collection of images from the 1960s created by the Church Information Office. You can also see images of selected artefacts within the collection, and read more about some of them in this blog post.

Access to images (now totalling some 24,500 across the manuscript, archive and printed book holdings) is also being enhanced by the addition of tags to the system, which will help users to browse images by format, type and collection. This project is ongoing. You can also access links to material within the collections which is accessible in ‘book’ format.

Work is also in progress to add links from the archives catalogue to the image management system where digitised images exist, to help guide users to relevant content – especially important as they cannot currently access sources on site. This also applies to content hosted externally, for instance sources relating to Australasia now available online, and early modern manuscripts (the Bacon, Talbot and Shrewsbury papers) which are now available on a subscription basis.

Enhancement of the catalogue has included additional data for the extensive archive of the British Council for Churches, founded in 1942 and covering a multitude of topics about ecumenical relations and social issues in the later 20th century.

Work has also been undertaken to add more links between the catalogue database and the complementary authority databases for personal and corporate names, and places. These authority records aim to guide users to key content within the collections, which has become increasingly important as, since its inception in 2002, the archives catalogue has now grown to nearly 750,000 descriptive records. For instance, the collections contain rich sources for the history of Lambeth Palace itself, but a search within the catalogue database would present an unmanageable number of results. Searching via the place authority record produces a more coherent set of descriptions.

Additions to the catalogue include parish names for the series of maps documenting changes to parish boundaries. This forms part of rich holdings of maps within the collections.


Staff have also taken the opportunity to export catalogue data from our own system to websites which allow researchers to search across data for numerous archive repositories, hence exposing our rich content to a wider user base. The Archives Hub site now hosts 214 of our collection descriptions, including holdings from both the Library and the Church of England Record Centre.

Work is also in progress to add detailed catalogues to the Discovery site hosted by the National Archives.

Other aspects of work will not be immediately apparent to users but will facilitate access to material in future. For instance, further work has taken place to populate the catalogue with data on the papers of Archbishop Carey which (aside from speeches and photographs, already available in the online catalogue) are due from release from 2022.

More than 100,000 printed books records have been upgraded during lockdown, almost half the total number of records in the printed books catalogue. Library staff have also updated 10,000 name and subject authority files, researched citations, and contributed to projects to report Lambeth Palace Library’s printed books holdings to appropriate union catalogues, such as the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC).

The lockdown has also provided an opportunity for staff to share their knowledge of the collections with each other via a series of briefings and presentations, some of which have also formed the foundation of blog posts.

Agnese’s Atlas for Father and Son

This atlas could be described as small but perfectly formed.Presented to Henry VIII it was most likely used as a teaching aid for his son the future Edward VI. Although it is unsigned and undated we know that it was made by Battista Agnese in around 1543. Originally from Genoa, Agnese established himself as a leading mapmaker in Venice and the Atlas was possibly given to Henry by the Venetian ambassador. It was subsequently owned by the antiquary Robert Hare before Archbishop Richard Bancroft acquired it and it became part of the library’s founding collection, now MS 463.

From the mid-1530s to his death in around 1564 Agnese produced high quality ‘portolan’ atlases, of which over 70 survive today, many have the red-brown morocco binding of this atlas. Portolan refers to nautical charts and Agnese’s atlases all had similar sequences of maps including the Americas (Columbus had returned to Europe from the ‘New World’ only 50 years before) and trade routes in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Henry was not the only monarch to receive such an atlas, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V had one made for his son the future Philip II who would go on to marry Mary I. The dating of this atlas to 1543 is due to its maps being identical to one owned by Johann Ernst, Duke of Saxe-Coburg, who was the brother of John Frederick I (Elector of Saxony and head of the Schmalkaldic League), as well as a distant relation of Queen Victoria.[1]

Map of northwestern Europe. MS 463, ff. 6v-7r
The first clue that the atlas was intended for Edward’s use is its relatively small size, similar to a modern-day paperback (21 x 14 cm). The verso of folio i has an illustrated gold frame with a dedication that has now been erased. Whether it directly referenced Edward is unknown, what is certain is that it was accompanied by a larger atlas that was dedicated to Henry VIII, this is now in the Vatican Library.[2] Facing this frame is the most richly illustrated page (folio 1r) of the atlas showing the royal arms of England, decorated with gold and bright colours, set within the Garter, with a crown at the top (see below). In each corner there are women representing the four cardinal virtues, often associated with wise government. Justice has a sword and scales, Prudence is grappling with two snakes, Temperance is pouring water into a jug of wine to dilute it, while Fortitude is sat by a palm and a lion.

The royal arms of England with representations of the four cardinal virtues. MS 463, f. 1r
The first three maps cover the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans, while the rest focus on Europe. The Mediterranean Sea receives particular attention with maps showing the western, central and eastern regions in detail. This is understandable given Agnese’s Venetian base, indeed he benefited from the work of Giacomo Gastaldi, an engineer and cartographer who served the Republic.[3] The map of the world on folios 13v-14r (pictured below) shows the first circumnavigation completed by Magellan’s crew in 1519-1522 (Magellan himself was killed in the Philippines so it was Juan Sebastián Elcano and 17 others who were the actual circumnavigators) and the treasure route from Peru to Spain, via the isthmus of Panama.

Map of the world showing Magellan’s circumnavigation and the treasure route from Peru to Spain. MS 463, ff. 13v-14r
There is a final surprise at the back of the atlas, the rear inside cover has a glass compass that has been set into the board, with names of wind directions written in English. Another feature I particularly like about the maps are the different colours used for small islands, particularly those of the Mediterranean. The Greek island of Rhodes has been painted with the flag (red background with white cross) of the Knights Hospitaller, in fact this is slightly out of date. Rhodes had fallen to the Ottoman Empire in 1522 and the Knights had moved to Crete before establishing a new base in Malta.

As well as demonstrating an interest in the exploration of the New World, the atlas has been tailored to reflect Henry’s ambitions – and those he wanted for Edward – closer to home. Another piece of evidence that the atlas was for Edward VI is that geographical names have been written on the relevant countries and unusually on the margins of the maps.[4] The map of the Atlantic has “Britannia nunc Anglia” (meaning “Britain but now England”) written above the island of Great Britain implying that the whole of Britain was under English control. In July 1543 the Treaty of Greenwich made peace between England and Scotland and created a marriage agreement between Edward and Mary Queen of Scots (who was less than 1 year old). However, the Scottish Parliament rejected the Treaty which led to the war known as the Rough Wooing which continued into Edward’s reign before his early death in 1553. It would be another fifty years before Elizabeth’s lack of an heir resulted in England entering a personal union with Scotland through the succession of James VI and I.




[2] Vatican Library, Cod. Barb. Lat. 4357. Barber, Peter, ‘An atlas for a young prince’ in Lambeth Palace Library: Treasures from the Collections of the Archbishops of Canterbury, ed. Richard Palmer and Michelle P. Brown (London, 2010), p. 98.

[3] Barber, Peter, ‘An atlas for a young prince’ in Lambeth Palace Library: Treasures from the Collections of the Archbishops of Canterbury, ed. Richard Palmer and Michelle P. Brown (London, 2010), p. 98.

[4] Barber, Peter, ‘An atlas for a young prince’ in Lambeth Palace Library: Treasures from the Collections of the Archbishops of Canterbury, ed. Richard Palmer and Michelle P. Brown (London, 2010), p. 98.