- Posted April 7, 2014 by
London, United Kingdom
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Your favorite libraries
A visit to three beautiful and historic church libraries in London
During my visit to London in 2011, I had the opportunity to visit three ancient church libraries, including Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral and Lambeth Palace. Before the trip, I contacted the librarians at all three and was able to arrange a behind-the-scenes tour of Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s. Lambeth Palace had an exhibition of rare Bibles that I was also able to attend. Below is a brief description.
Westminster Abbey Library- Westminster Abbey has over eight hundred years of history and is considered to be Britain's most important church. Benedictine monks first came to this site in the middle of the tenth century, establishing a tradition of daily worship which continues to this day. The Abbey has been the coronation church (where kings and queens are crowned) since 1066 and is the final resting place of seventeen monarchs. The Westminster Abbey Library begun in 1560, and has been housed in part of the former monastic dormitory since 1591. There are around 70,000 books in the archive, with 30,000 from the medieval era.
St. Paul’s Cathedral- Since the first service was held here in 1697, St. Paul’s has been an important church in England. I had to climb an ancient set of spiral stairs to get the library which is in the south-west tower in a chamber designed for it by Christopher Wren. The library suffered damage in the great fire of 1666, and the chamber was restocked with valuable Bibles and liturgical texts from several collections soon after. (Attached is a photo of this library).
Lambeth Palace Library- Lambeth Palace is the official home of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of 80 million Anglicans and Episcopalians world wide. Lambeth Palace is one of the few medieval buildings left in London, and the Archbishops of Canterbury have owned it since about 1200. Lambeth Palace Library is one of the earliest public libraries in England, founded in 1610. I attended an exhibition at the Lambeth Palace Library celebrating the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Version of the Bible. On display were several important religious documents, including a 1611 King James version of the Bible, medieval translations of the Bible into English; and a beautifully illustrated first edition of Luther's German Bible.
Rick Sheridan is an assistant professor of communications at Wilberforce University in Ohio, and has also lectured at Stanford, California State University and at the Chautauqua Institute. Rick also works as a journalist. His news and feature articles have been published by the Chicago Sun-Times, St. Petersburg Times, New Orleans Times-Picayune, UPI, etc. Rick has a doctorate in communications.