On the 6th of July I was one of a group of four library assistants who paid a visit to Lambeth Palace Library. For a long time I had wanted to visit the library and now I was lucky enough to have the opportunity. We assembled outside the gate in the old palace wall; a spot which offers a view over the river and Westminster on the other side. Upon ringing the doorbell an archive assistant let us in and we were taken first into a little kitchen area, then through a court yard and finally into the main part of the building. The current library trainee, John Boneham took us into the Reading Room. This room serves users of the archives and manuscripts collections as well as the book collections. John is mainly responsible for fetching books from locked shelves, opening the door and copying service. He showed us upstairs to the strong room where we had the privilege of seeing the Bible used for Queen Elisabeth’s wedding ceremony.
Speaking of Bibles, we were allowed into the exhibition hall for free and learn how the King James translation of the Bible came into being, with many old monumental Bibles on display. But before this, John took us up into one of the two towers of the palace which are used as library stores. Three flights of spiral stairs up we came upon an impressive meeting room lined with bookshelves and a round table in the middle. The library and the towers are the oldest part of Lambeth Palace and I think the foundations are from the 14th century but I cannot remember for sure. It was also in the tower that we visited the two conservators of the library and archives in a room overlooking Westminster. The two ladies were working on cleaning parchment. This visit has been very interesting and as you can see I even remember most details more than a month later!
Geri Van Essen
Institute of Historical Research