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.

Item of Interest: Home Words and Homely Dogs

This month’s Item of Interest post comes from former library intern Alex Keane, who has sniffed out a shaggy dog tale.

Within the Lambeth Palace Library collections, there are countless references to some of the most famous people in history, including Henry VIII, Thomas Cranmer, and Mary Queen of Scots. However, as it turns out, Lambeth Palace Library represents not just famous humans, but also famous canines. We present to the reader, Oriel Bill.

Dog 1

Home Words, Standon and High Cross, 1898, p. 156.

Oriel Bill was Oriel College, Oxford’s bulldog at the end of the 19th Century. The first photograph (above) shows Bill after passing an exam, and the second (below) unfortunately depicts a later failure. While we are not sure what grade Bill ultimately achieved, there are more pictures of him to be found online dressed as a judge, so it can be assumed that this particular failure didn’t set him back too much at least.

Dog 2These photographs were found in the Standon and High Cross edition of Home Words for Heart and Hearth, published in July 1898. Lambeth Palace Library is currently in the process of cataloguing a huge collection of these late nineteenth and early twentieth century parish magazines from across the UK. Each one contains a fascinating insight into rural religious life, with beautiful illustrations to help convey a message of family values, agricultural education and new technology, reflecting the intended readership. For more information on this project, please look at the previous Item of Interest blog post: Local perspective – parish magazines, their writers and readers.

The photographs of Oriel Bill were taken by James Soame, who once lived where the Oriel College Rhodes Building now stands in Oxford, before becoming one of the founding members of the Gillman & Soame photography company. As a model for Soame, Oriel Bill stands in the illustrious company of the royal family – not too bad for a dog.

Home Words, Standon and High Cross, 1898