“E libris Dris Kellerman”: On the library of Doctor Kellerman

by Ted Simonds, Project Cataloguer (Sion College Library)


From the 1620s onwards, Sion College Library received donations from a broad swathe of the London citizenry. Aristocrats, merchants, clergy, stationers, parishioners, donors who chose anonymity, and donors otherwise unknown to us constitute Sion College Library’s earliest benefactors. Sion College Library is special in this regard: both as a library of rare and notable books, and as a record of the people who helped create it. What they donated still fills the shelves of the Sion College Library collection today.

As I have hinted above, some donors are more mysterious to us than others. The problem of provenance research is the problem of knowing or not knowing the behaviours and actions of people in the past. As with all such research, observation is accompanied with uncertainty, and you have to let yourself be led by what is in front of you. A series of books has recently emerged, carrying the name of a “D[octo]ris Kellerman”, who I have found to be a German doctor working in Russia at the close of the 17th century. While handling and cataloguing his books, an interesting picture emerges of a medical practitioner, his small collection of books, and the hands they passed through before arriving at Sion College Library.

It is unknown whether Doctor Hendrik Kellerman (also known as Andrei Kelderman) ever visited London or if he knew of or visited Sion College. Nevertheless, an inscription reading: “Ex libris D[octor]ris Kellerman” (or a variation on this) exists in eight books from Sion College Library that we have now catalogued. As a cataloguer of this collection, when such patterns emerge, I turn to the Sion Benefactor’s Book as a place where more information about a donation may be found. The following can be found under the year 1720 regarding Doctor Kellerman’s bequest:

Sion L40.2/E64, p.227
Sion L40.2/E64, p.227

“About this time Mrs. Snow, who had accompanied the lady of Dr. Kellerman, a German physician, to Muscovy, and returned to England after they were dead, gave 18 of the Drs. books to the Library. They are in the Closet next Philip lane.”

From this information, certain assumptions can be made. Kellerman was German. In fact, his father Thomas was Livonian (originating from an area in modern-day Latvia). Kellerman had a wife, who was accompanied by a woman, presumably English, who called herself Mrs Snow. Mrs Snow, a woman working in domestic service overseas, carried at least 18 books (if not more) back to London with her from Russia.

Importantly to us, he also owned books, and 18 of them were given to Sion College Library. Of these 18 so far 9 have been identified. The most recent book, Christoph Besold’s Synopsis Politicae Doctrinae (Ingolstadt, 1643), was found last week. In the course of my normal cataloguing duties interesting books and their provenances are always emerging, testifying to the importance of Sion College Library as a collection, and the importance of the work of cataloguing these books. Doctor Kellerman’s books are as follows:

  • Psalterium Latinum Dauidis prophetae et Regis, Leipzig, 1578. (A26.16/C81 01): bound with: Cantica selecta veteris novique testamenti, Leipzig, 1581. (A26.16/C81 02)
  • Johannes Posselius, Evangelia et epistolae…, Strasbourg, 1592. (A33.9/EV1(1))
  • B.T., Preghiere e meditatione Christiane, Geneva, 1623. (A62.2E/T11)
  • Ludolphus Lithocomus, Vocabulorum et exemplorum, quae per etymologiam Ludolffi Lithocomi, The Hague, 1643. (H15.2/V93)
  • Christoph Besold, Christophori Besoldi I.C. Synopsis Politicae Doctrinae, Ingolstadt, 1643. (D50.4/B46)
  • Johann Michael Fehr, Anchora vel Scorzonera, Jena, 1666. (No longer at Sion)
  • Philipp Kegel, Zwölff geistliche Andachten, Lüneburg, 1669. (A62.2G/K25)
  • Anton Reiser, Sabbathisch- und Sonntägliches Liecht und Recht, Frankfurt am Main, 1677. (A30.3a/R27)
  • Caspar Hermann Sandhagen, Lüneburgisches Gesangbuch, Lüneburg, 1695. (A38.6/L96)

The types of books listed here and what they can tell us about Doctor Kellerman should be regarded with some caution. The nine books represent only half of the total amount deposited with Sion in 1720. While we are hopeful more might emerge, this is not a given. At least one book listed is assumed to have been in Sion College Library, and been given by Doctor Kellerman. In the London Metropolitan Archives collection of Sion College material, a note refers to:

“lists of flowers taken from books of Dr Kellerman (‘e libris Dris Kellerman’) with some accompanying notes. The only book named is Johann Michael Fehr’s “Anchora vel scorzonera”, 1666.” (LMA: CLC/198/SICE/013/MS33531)

The book mentioned is a work of medical botany written by Doctor Fehr about the healing properties of moorland plants found in Schweinfurt, Bavaria. We can say that the book no longer exists in Sion College Library, as there is no entry for it in the card catalogue, neither has it been located in another library carrying Kellerman’s provenance. It is known that Sion College did withdraw a number of medical and scientific texts throughout the 20th century. Doctor Kellerman’s profession leads us reasonably to assume he was in possession of some medical books. Given the scientific subject of this one book, assumed withdrawn, hopes of recovering the remaining 9 (possibly 10) books belonging to Kellerman remain slim.

Scholarly writing on early modern medicine in Russia, which draws on the archive of the Apothecary Chancery in Rusia, offers a picture of Kellerman’s background and professional life. His father was a merchant, an arms dealer and eventually an envoy who was influential at the Muscovite court. Thomas Kellerman had invested financially in his son’s career, taking on debts to fund his son’s education as a medical doctor. Doctor Kellerman studied at the elite centres of medical learning in 17th century Europe: Padua, Paris, Strasbourg, Leipzig and Oxford. It is tantalising to think of the Doctor having had to pass through London, and thus potentially Sion, on his way to Oxford. Indeed, Leipzig and Strasbourg imprints do survive among his books, possibly linking him to these cities. Doctor Kellerman is evidenced as buying books on his travels across Europe, and the signs of use extant in his books show this.

On the verso of the front flyleaf of his copy of Psalterium Latinum Dauidis prophetae et Regis (Leipzig, 1578) is a particularly interesting note. It reads:

A26.16/C81 01
A26.16/C81 01

“Hunc librum ex praedâ Suecici belli solutâ pecuniâ, mihi comperari Plestoviae Ao. 1704. Henricus Kellerman eques divi marci Ph. & Med. Doctor.”

Roughly translated, this reads: “This book was sold after being liberated from the spoils of the Swedish war, I have learned”, and is followed by his location “Plestoviae”, possibly Pleszew (Poland), the year 1704, and his name with what appears to be an honorary title for the order of St Mark, and his credentials as a Doctor of Philosophy and Medicine. We can therefore locate Doctor Kellerman as having been in Poland in 1704, and in the market of buying second-hand books. The ink on the flyleaf is a pink colour found elsewhere in his books. Doctor Kellerman was not the type of person to buy books and not read them, in fact he was a heavy annotator. The characteristic pink ink often used with a range of other inks ranging from a weak brown to a stronger black, enabling us to speculate that he came to his books, ready to annotate, at multiple occasions. His father’s debts were not taken in vain, as Kellerman was clearly a learned man. He was a polyglot, seemingly a bibliophile, and read and annotated his books many times over, adding in his own running titles, verse and line numbers, and bibliographic references. His notes are written in Latin, Greek and other languages in a variety of styles depending on his purpose.

Eve Levin’s 2003 doctoral thesis gives an account of the life of Doctor Kellerman (including the above biography); she summarises Kellerman’s situation as being a foreigner in Muscovite service sent to Europe to train in medicine with the expectation that he would return to serve in Muscovy. Levin describes Kellerman’s return as traumatic. He had forgotten the language and was disappointed at the status his role had, and at his pay being 170 roubles (some physicians earned as much as 1114 roubles) per year. The Latin-Dutch dictionary in his library (H15.2/V93) offers an insight into the Doctor’s internal life, as well as the way he used books and moved through the world. The printed pages are interleaved with blanks, on which Kellerman has made manuscript notes and translations into various other eastern European languages (interestingly in Latin script).

H15.2/V93 and A26.16/C81 02
H15.2/V93 and A26.16/C81 02

Doctor Kellerman worked at the Apothecary Chancery in Moscow from 1673, where he treated the upper classes of society. There are several moments of his career which add colour to his career as a physician. In 1682 he became involved in a murder case in the hospital when his colleague Arnold van Hulst was accused of killing Fedor Neledinskii (a patient). Kellerman performed an autopsy and investigation, the conclusions of which resulted in van Hulst’s exoneration. By 1690 he was working in the ‘Old Pharmacy’, when he was called upon to inspect the medicine production in the ‘New Pharmacy’ (where ordinary Muscovites were treated). It would appear that Kellerman was a well-regarded physician, whose expertise could be called upon to settle disputes and adjudicate medical errors.

This biographical sketch of Kellerman’s life necessarily focuses on his professional life, relying as it does on studies of, and the archives of the Apothecary Chancery in Moscow. We can all agree that our professional lives are but a sliver of our lived lives. What his books tell us is a different kind of history. Kellerman’s books are a case study for how a small collection of books with a common origin and signs of use can enrich, and be enriched by, what is already known from institutional archives. While records survive which tell us what Kellerman (and others like him) did professionally, archives of a person’s interior, linguistic, spiritual, and personal life are less common, especially early modern middle and working classes.

Thanks to the evidence left to us, and the generations of Librarians, archivists, porters and book movers who have transported and kept the books well cared for, we are able to know not only what types of books he read, but how he read them. In addition, thanks to the kinds of records Sion College kept, from early in their life, we are able to know about Mrs. Snow, and her role in preserving this collection. The types of questions we are able to ask of these books are wide-ranging and illuminating. What does it mean that maybe the Doctor collected flowers, sang from a hymn book, seemed curious about the provenance of his books, added page numbers and references to other works in the margins of his Psalter, and that he made his own working dictionary of the Dutch language to suit his own linguistic abilities?

Kellerman’s life story is fascinating, as is the social world that these 18 books have lived in, and continue to live in here at Lambeth Palace Library. We don’t know what the Doctor’s wishes were, if he knew of Sion College, or if he knew his wife’s maid would take his books to London. What we do have is 8 books, with Kellerman’s name in them, which can show us today how someone from 300 years ago read, wrote in, and lived with his books.


We look forward to uncovering more books owned by Doctor Kellerman and donated by Mrs. Snow as the cataloguing of Sion College continues.

For more about Sion College and the provenance of books found there, view the Sion College Library Provenance Project.

To consult one of Doctor Kellerman’s books (or indeed other books in Sion College Library) please email archives@churchofengland.org

Works and items consulted in the writing of this post:

Kees Boterbloem, Moderniser of Russia: Andrei Vinius, 1641-1716. Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

Claire Louise Griffin, The production and consumption of medical knowledge in seventeenth-century Russia: the Apothecary Chancery. PhD Thesis. UCL, 2012.

Eve Levin, “The administration of Western medicine in seventeenth century Russia”. In Modernizing Moscovy: Reform and Social Change in Seventeenth Century Russia. Jarmo Kotilaine, and Marshall Poe (eds.) Routledge, 2003.

London Metropolitan Archives, Sion College. CLC/198. [Handlist available: https://search.lma.gov.uk/LMA_DOC/CLC_198.PDF]

Philip Longworth, “Russian-Venetian relations in the reign of Tsar Aleksey Mikhailovich”, The Slavonic and East European Review. Vol. 64. No.3 (Jul. 1986)

Sion College Library, Benefactor’s Book. (Sion L40.2/E64).

From ‘Not Fit for Production’ to Reading Room ready

A volume of three related pamphlets from 1723 in Sion College Library was severely mould damaged and flagged for conservation treatment. They are about the trial of Francis Atterbury, Bishop of Rochester, who was charged with treason for his involvement in a Jacobite plot [Sion Main Quarto D34.1/At8]. The paper lost sizing and fused into a block. Previous attempts to open the book had resulted in numerous tears and losses. In many places the paper was very pulpy and weak. The title page of the first pamphlet was adhered to the inside front cover and the last page was adhered to the inside back cover. The boards of the covers were so degraded that it was crumbling and falling away in chunks.

Inside of front cover showing title page adhered to front endpapers and pastedown.

The covers and pages displayed all the colours and textures of mould I have seen on books across my years as a conservator. It was pink, green, black, and grey. It was powdery, granular and imbedded in the paper fibres. During washing, some of the mould was very slimy and slippery.

Thankfully, the central pages were less severely damaged (i.e. less tears rather than no tears, slightly stronger paper rather than incredibly weak and damaged paper). This shows the protective nature of bindings to the text block. Despite the severe damage, this could, with an intense conservation treatment, be saved.

Degraded state of binding and textblock before treatment. Pages are mould damaged and fused together; cover has many large losses.

The covers were removed and the spine was cleaned with xantham gum. The text block was separated along natural breaks into front, middle and back sections. These three sections could then be treated in successive but separate treatments which would help to retain the order of the pages. Due to the damage, it was not possible to check the collation or note any printing errors before treatment, so it was more essential to be diligent about the order of steps undertaken.

The pages were washed in warm water with a small amount of propanol added to aid wetting. A small fan brush, a thin Teflon folder, and fingertips were all that was used to separate the pages. Creating waves of water around the small openings that were initially available allowed the gentle but strong power of water to do much of the work. My fingerprints were the most abrasive tool to interact with the wet pages. In many places the mould was too firmly embedded in the paper and could not be removed without causing damage. Pristine pages were not the end goal. Instead, the intended result was pages that could be turned and a document that could be issued to readers.

Conservator washing pages. Note acidity being released into the water.

After washing, the pages were resized and further treated for mould with a sizing agent in solvent. The methylcellulose size supported the weakened paper fibres and the solvent helped to mitigate any remaining mould spores. Next, the pages were lined with a 5gsm machine-made Japanese tissue adhered with cooked wheat starch paste. The condition of the pages considerably improved after lining. They could now be easily and safely handled. They were arranged into sections and infills applied as needed. Where possible, detached pieces of the original text were repositioned.

After treatment; pages have been washed, lined, repaired and bound into a simple new structure.

With the paper repairs complete, the pages were sewn on linen thread and bound into a pamphlet binding structure devised by the V&A Museum for one of their pamphlet collections. This structure is clean, modern, and non-adhesive. It is slim and lightweight allowing the three pamphlets to be stored in one box which reduces the amount of shelf space needed while still protecting the items. Additionally, this structure more closely resembles the original nature of these items as three related but distinct texts. This item is now safe to handle and can be accessed in the reading room.

Talitha Wachtelborn, Sion College Collection Conservator

“A little bundle of time”: Werner Rolevinck’s epic chronicle of the world, 1474

The Fasciculus temporum is an epic chronicle of ecclesiastical and world history, beginning with the biblical account of Creation up to events of the 15th century, such as the invention of printing. As well as being a bestseller in its day, the chronicle is an innovative example of early printing and represents one of the first examples of a writer working closely with a printer to ensure their intentions are carried out. The author in question, Werner Rolevinck (1425-1502), was born near Laer in Westphalia, Germany, the son of a prosperous farmer. He was probably educated in Cologne and in 1447 entered the Carthusian monastery of St. Barbara where he remained until his death. In his years at St Barbara’s, Rolevinck (or Rolewinck) produced more than 50 works, mainly theological and devotional in nature, but he is best known for the Fasciculus temporum, the title of which is commonly translated as “A little bundle of time”.

First printed in Cologne in 1474 and one of the first books by a living author to be published, the Fasciculus temporum became enormously popular and was reprinted in numerous editions and translations, including close to 40 editions during the author’s lifetime. It greatly influenced the major world chronicles that followed, including Hartmann Schedel’s famous Liber cronicarum (“Nuremberg chronicle”), first published by Anton Koberger in 1493.

Woodcut of the Tower of Babel from the 1476 edition, also showing manuscript waste used as endpapers on the Lambeth copy ([ZZ]1476.2)
Lambeth Palace Library holds copies of two later editions of Rolevinck’s chronicle, the first printed in Louvain by Johnann Veldener in 1476 and the other published in Cologne around 1483. The former ([ZZ]1476.2) bears the arms of John Whitgift, Archbishop of Canterbury, on the binding and has leaves from a medieval manuscript as endpapers. The 1483 copy ([ZZ]1500.6.01) is described in the catalogues of the libraries of both Whitgift and Archbishop Richard Bancroft, who purchased Archbishop Whitgift’s books after his death. These editions corrected the errors that slipped into the printing of the first in 1474.

The Fasciculus temporum is an innovative work in several ways, not least in making a significant contribution to the organisation and presentation of historical information on the printed page. More than any previous writer before him, Rolevinck employed the layout of the page to structure his chronicle. The arrangement is complex, presenting unique challenges to the printer by using lines, shapes, images and text to convey the flow of time horizontally across the page. Rolevinck designed his book with two parallel timelines running continuously as the pages are turned, one running from the date of the creation of the world (established as 5199 B.C.) and the other beginning with the birth of Christ. This display allows the reader to compare important historical events with the key events of Christianity; the upper page is devoted to biblical and ecclesiastical history, while the lower part of the page covers secular events, including Classical mythology. A woodcut strip running across the centre of each page is separated from the rest of the text above and below by two sets of lines. Placed inside this band are circles containing the names of popes, saints, classical writers, and legendary figures from the Old Testament.

Rolevinck's_Fasciculus_Temporum,_1474 wiki
Woodcut timeline with text above and below in the Cardiff University copy of the 1474 edition.

The text provides some of the earliest evidence of collaboration between author and printer in the design of printed books. In the colophon of first edition, printer Arnold Ther Hoernen (d.1483 or 1484) states that he is working from a manuscript provided by Rolevinck himself, “following the first exemplar which this venerable author himself wrote by hand completely.” It seems likely that the original manuscript also provided a layout for the printer to follow; Ther Hoernen had to be particularly skilled to replicate this design successfully and the numerous errors which had to be fixed in later editions demonstrate just how difficult a task this turned out to be!

Like many incunabula, the Fasciculus temporum is illustrated with a small number of woodcuts, some of which appear more than once – for example, a woodcut of an anonymous city on fire is used to represent the burning of Troy as well as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. There are, however, unique and particularly nice illustrations for Noah’s Ark and the Tower of Babel, Several different woodcuts are employed to illustrate the second half of the book, which is full of references to signs and omens such as earthquakes, monstrous births, and the appearance of comets and eclipses.

Woodcuts of Noah’s Ark and a rainbow on [a3v] of the 1476 edition. The text was rubricated by hand in red ink after printing following the earlier manuscript tradition ([ZZ]1476.2)
Rolevinck’s timeline takes us right up to his own lifetime with the papacy of Sixtus IV (1471-1484) and highlights the invention of printing and the emerging mass availability of books. Rolevinck first shares his thoughts on book collecting while describing the Library of Alexandria: “From this it is clear what great diligence ancient times showed in collecting books. Let those blush for shame who do not acquire a good supply of books when it can be done, of course, by small cost.” Rolevinck’s belief is that the rise of printing has finally made the noble goal of collecting books available to everyone:

“[Printing is] the art of arts, the science of sciences [which will] enrich and illuminate this world in its evil state. The unlimited virtue of books … is now spread by this discovery to every tribe, people, nation, and language everywhere …”

As one of the first true bestsellers, the Fasciculus temporum certainly played its part in bringing the ‘unlimited virtue of books’ to a wider audience than ever before.


Matthew S. Champion. The fullness of time: Temporalities of the fifteenth-century Low Countries. University of Chicago Press, 2017.

“Fasciculus temporum”. Open book: News from the Rare Books Department of Special Collections at the J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah. Accessed 28 July, 2020. https://openbook.lib.utah.edu/book-of-the-week-fasciculus-temporum/

L. C. Ward. “Authors and authority: The influence of Jean Gerson and the “Devotio moderna” on the Fasciculus temporum of Werner Rolevinck”, in: Die Kartäuser und ihre Welt. Kontakte und gegenseitige Einflüsse, I (Analecta Cartusiana, 62), 1993, pp. 171-188

Mark A. Lotito. The reformation of historical thought. Leiden: Brill, 2019.

Virginia Moscrip. “Werner Rolevinck’s Fasciculus temporum”. University of Rochester Library Bulletin, Vol. IX, No. 3, Spring 1954. Accessed 28 July, 2020. https://rbscp.lib.rochester.edu/3422

Unchained, but not unchanged: Encountering books and their history in Lambeth Palace Library (Part 1)

Today we are excited to present a guest post from Becky Loughead, formerly of Lambeth Palace Library and now Serials & E-Resources Librarian at the Society of Antiquaries.

One of the fascinating things about working with the historic collection of Lambeth Palace Library is not just the content of the manuscripts and printed books, but the books themselves as objects. What can examining this book tell us about its past? Who owned it, sold it, bought it, gave it as a gift? What does its binding tell us? Did it once have clasps or a chain attached to it? Does it have a shelfmark or title on the outside? What can this tell us about how it was kept or stored?

Matthew the Evangelist in the MacDurnan Gospels (MS 1370)

The chances are, if you’re an avid reader, you have some book shelves at home. You probably shelve your books in the way we’re using to seeing in libraries nowadays – rows of vertical books on a shelf with their spines facing outwards. If you have a lot of books, perhaps you also have some sort of finding aid, ordering the books by author’s surname, or by genre. We’re so accustomed to seeing books laid out in this fashion that it might seems strange – or even counterintuitive – to find out that this was not always the case. In fact, it’s a relatively recent development, and one with which our Medieval and early Renaissance ancestors wouldn’t have been familiar in the libraries and book collections of the day.

The books now in Lambeth Palace Library date back to the late 9th century or early 10th century. The oldest is the stunningly illuminated MacDurnan Gospels, believed to have been written in Armagh, Ireland, and later acquired by King Aethelstan of England (925-940) who donated it to Christ Church, Canterbury.  This was a time when manuscripts were produced by monks in monasteries; an extremely labour-intensive operation involving many hours of copying text by hand. Books, therefore, were extremely valuable, so they were kept in locked chests or cupboards (‘armaria’) to keep them safe from wandering hands.

Librije Zutphen (Netherlands), a 16th-century public library with the lectern system of chaining

Some (but not all) books were chained to reading desks in a church or to lecterns in monastic cloisters. Those chained would be generally be large, heavily-used reference books, rather than the ones we might consider ‘valuable’ in a monetary sense today – these would still be kept securely locked away elsewhere. (Think about the not-for-loan books in the reference section of a modern library: you won’t find an expensive illuminated manuscript bible on the shelves, but you’d likely find a modern printed reference edition.) Chaining was an expensive practice, and some books may also have been available to be loaned under strict conditions, such as on payment of a deposit.

By the end of the medieval period, it was not only monastic institutions which had their own libraries. Universities and theological colleges likewise needed communal book collections for their students, also chaining their books to keep them from “disappearing” from the shelves. In earlier chained libraries, the books were typically chained to long, slanted reading lecterns, like pews in a church.

However, as more books were added to libraries, keeping them stored flat on slanted lecterns became more and more impractical. Some lecterns had shelves built in above or below, where books could be stacked horizontally – but this too posed logistical problems. Imagine trying to pull out your book from the bottom of a pile of heavy tomes! In the late 16th century, a continental technology was brought over to England (an early adopter was Merton College, Oxford) which would soon become the norm for libraries across the country. This was the stall system, where books could be stored upright in vertical rows in back-to-back shelving, lifted down and read on desks beneath.

The chained library of Hereford Cathedral

The best surviving example of this can still be seen at Hereford Cathedral (the Chained Library was established in 1611). A chain was attached to the fore-edge of the book, typically on the corner of the front cover, and the end of the chain was attached to a steel rod running along the bottom of each shelf. Having the spines facing inwards meant the books could be lifted down off the shelf and opened, alleviating the need to turn them around. This meant the chain wouldn’t become tangled.

The library of Sion College (a college, guild of parochial clergy, and almshouse founded in 1630) was another such chained library in its early days. In 1996, when Sion College Library was closed, its manuscripts and pre-1850 books were transferred to Lambeth Palace Library. Many of its books still show evidence of chaining.

Chained joined
Holes in the upper boards of these Sion College Library books show where a chain had once been stapled. The binding leather was damaged on the latter when the chain was later removed. (Sion Arc Octavo A46.3/AB1H and Sion Arc Quarto A52.0/T97)

Benefactors joined
The Sion College Library Benefactor’s Book, 1629-1703, was chained to a desk on display. Part of the chain is still attached. (Sion L40.2/E64)

But did chaining actually work? Unfortunately – at least for Sion College – having chains didn’t make their library theft-proof. The Benefactors’ Book describes a substantial bequest by Thomas James, who died in 1711 and left some 3,000 volumes to the college. An assessment of the collection was carried out, and it was discovered that “several of those chain’d [books], have at sundry times been broke of ye chains, and stole away, notwithstanding ye strictest diligence & attendance of the Library Keeper, and all imaginable methods that he used to prevent it.”


Another entry of 1718 reads: “The foremention’d Books are now in ye Library. But some others have been stollen; & some of these are liable to be stollen; notwithstanding their chaines, & all possible care besides.

By the late 1800s, the mass availability of cheaply printed books meant chained libraries were redundant, and the practice died out. Part two of this article will look what happened when the chains came off…

References and further reading:

Chain, chest, curse: Combating book theft in Medieval times, Erik Kwakkel, medievalbooks.nl, published July 10th, 2015.

Reading in restraint: The last chained libraries, Allison Meier. AtlasObscura.com, published May 8th, 2014.

Libraries used to chain their books to shelves, with the spines hidden away, Colin Schultz, Smithsonian.com, published September 6th, 2013.

The chained library: a study of four centuries in the evolution of the English library, Burnett Hillman Streeter. Macmillan, 1931.

The last of the great chained libraries, Jenny Weston. medievalfragments.wordpress.com, published May 10th 2013.

The English library before 1700: studies in its history, edited by Francis Wormald and C. E. Wright. Athlone Press, 1958.

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
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
Royal Historical Society Transactions


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


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.


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.


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



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.


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):


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:

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

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