Saturday, March 27, 2010

Treasures of Lambeth Palace Library

Mike Warren forwarded an email about an exciting exhibition in London:

Treasures of Lambeth Palace Library – 400th Anniversary Exhibition 1610-2010

Monday 17 May until Friday 23 July 2010

To celebrate 400 years since its foundation, Lambeth Palace Library is set to open its doors with a fascinating exhibition, 'Treasures of Lambeth Palace Library - 400th Anniversary Exhibition 1610-2010', opening in Lambeth Palace's Great Hall from Monday 17 May until Friday 23 July 2010.

The exhibition will reveal centuries of history and hints at the depth and intellectual value of the items in the Library's care, some of which will be on display for the first time. It will draw from the incomparably rich and diverse collections of manuscripts, archives and printed books, built up over the past four centuries. Richard Bancroft, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1604 until his death in 1610, bequeathed his extensive collection of printed books and manuscripts “to the Arch-Bishops of Canterbury successively for ever,” resulting in the formation of Lambeth Palace Library.

On show will be key items collected during Lambeth Palace Library's four hundred years as a working library, beginning with the founding collection owned and used by Archbishop Bancroft as his ‘theological arsenal’ in a time of religious controversy and as a scholar and patron of learning. Treasures include a Gutenberg Bible (Mainz, 1455), the first book printed in Western Europe from movable metal type; the 12th century Lambeth Bible, regarded as one of the monuments of Romanesque art; some unique witchcraft tracts collected by Bancroft through his interest in debates over diabolic possession and exorcism and Henry Jacob, To the right high and mightie Prince, Iames ... An humble suppliation for toleration, (Middleborough 1609), annotated angrily by King James I

Founding collection treasures include manuscripts from the dissolved monasteries of Christ Church Canterbury and St Augustine's in Canterbury, Llanthony Priory and Waltham Abbey. Many books and manuscripts are linked with great names of the past – a set of the works of Aristotle, printed in Venice between 1495 and 1498, was owned by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, favourite of Queen Elizabeth I - handwritten inscriptions on each title page are thought to represent the entwined cipher signature of Elizabeth and Leicester; and King Richard III's 15th century manuscript Book of Hours, which was in his tent at the Battle of Bosworth in August 1485.

In the 17th century, further manuscripts and books were added to the Library, including an account of Archbishop Laud’s trial, which had belonged to King Charles I and is inscribed ‘Dum spiro spero’ (‘While I breathe I have hope'). Others included George Carew’s papers on Irish history and journals of Elizabethan and Jacobean voyages to the Americas.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, the collections developed with the addition of historical treasures such as the 9th century Macdurnan Gospelbook, manufactured in Ireland during the early Middle Ages and owned by King Athelstan of Wessex (reigned 924-939), a masterpiece of Insular book production; Greek manuscripts dating from the 10th century, many in their original Byzantine bindings; and physicians’ reports on the illness of King George III.

An important development in 1964 was the establishment of the Friends of Lambeth Palace Library. The Friends have presented some very special items to the Library's collection including a 1516 letter of indulgence, issued by Pope Leo X, for the rebuilding of St Peter’s in Rome; first editions of landmark texts in the history of the Church of England; a copy of the warrant for the execution of Mary Queen of Scots and an accompanying letter from the Privy Council, dated 3 February 1587; papers relating to the divorce of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon; an account of the baptism of the future King Charles II; papers relating to the rebuilding of St Paul’s Cathedral after the Great Fire; and a hand coloured lithograph of the christening of the Princess Royal, 1841. In 1996 the Library was enhanced through the transfer of the pre-1850 collections from Sion College Library (established in 1630 for the benefit of the London clergy), including an extremely rare Babylonian Talmud printed by Daniel Bomberg at Venice between 1526 and 1548.

As part of the Scala ‘Great Libraries of the World’ series, a beautiful book accompanies the exhibition ‘Lambeth Palace Library: Treasures from the Collection of the Archbishops of Canterbury’, edited by Dr Richard Palmer and Dr Michelle Brown. Published in hardback in April 2010, a softback edition will be on sale at the Exhibition.

For further information and advance bookings (recommended), visit here.


  1. And don't forget there are twenty-one Greek New Testament MSS in Lambeth Palace Library.

  2. In addition there are at least four (partial) collations of Greek NT MSS, considered to be lost for nearly 180 years. The collations were made in the early 19th century, published by Scrivener and subsequently registered by Gregory as G(A) 487 488 1518 1522 and used by Tischendorf and von Soden.

    The mss themselves where brought to England by Joseph Dacre Carlyle and apparently returned to Jerusalem (at around 1815 AD) from which they have been registered again by Gregory. Hence, they were used twice in the edition of von Soden.

    A close comparison of the published collations with extant microfilms at the INTF (Münster) in the early 1990ies made this clear and allowed to make the following identifications:
    GA 487 (= Lambeth C4 Todd) = GA 1321 (= Jerusalem, Ökum. Patr., Taphu 44);
    GA 488 (= Lambeth 1180) = GA 1326 (= Jerusalem, Ökum. Patr., Taphu 139);
    GA 1518 (= Lambeth 1184) = GA 1890 (= Jerusalem, Ökum. Patr., Taphu 462);
    GA 1522 (= Lambeth 1181) = GA 1896 (= Jerusalem, Ökum. Patr., Stavru 37)

    These identifications have been digested into the 2nd ed. of the Kurzgefasste Liste (1994) already. But the story behind that identification is just too interesting to miss. And this is just the gist of it...

  3. GA 1518 (= Lambeth 1184) = GA 1890 (= Jerusalem, Ökum. Patr., Taphu 462);
    GA 1522 (= Lambeth 1181) = GA 1896 (= Jerusalem, Ökum. Patr., Stavru 37)

    Are these two identifications the right way round? They seem to disagree with the on-line list.

  4. Being away at the moment from the files, I indeed suspect a confusion regarding 1518/1522 and 1890/1896 respectively. We find out tomorrow.

  5. Yes, there is a confusion! I studied these MSS in Jude (see my The Epistle of Jude: Its Text and Transmission, p. 119 n 11). When I collated 1890 I could see that it must be Scrivener's "c" (=1522). The strange thing is that C. A. Albin who wrote a previous work on Jude fifty years got it mixed up in the same way and thought 1518 was 1890.

  6. After some off-blog correspondence with Ulrich I must conclude that I am wrong. It should be:

    GA 1518 (= Lambeth 1184) = GA 1890

    GA 1522 (= Lambeth 1181) = GA 1896

    which means that the two printed editions of the Kurzgefasste Liste are wrong. Unfortunately, this means that the identification 1890=1522 and 1896=1518 in my own monograph is wrong. But, fortunately, this does not affect the text-critical apparatus. The textual data of 1890 and 1896 are correct. It is the biographical information that was wrong, as I trusted the Liste too hard for that part.

  7. The Liste (online) has also been corrected. Thanks for spotting the problem!