Archbishop William Wake (1657-1737)

Code it be Magic: References for Archbishops’ Papers

Why do the Library’s collections of material for Archbishops of Canterbury have such a varying array of reference codes, often including abbreviations, names, numbers or slashes? What lies behind this array of identifiers, each of which should be unique for an orderable archival object, and how do they reflect the collections’ long history?

The earliest records of the administration of Archbishops of Canterbury are the Archbishops’ registers, which don’t have a reference code as such, so the register of Matthew Parker (1504-1575) is Reg. Parker for example. More extensive official papers of Archbishops, which exist from the mid-17th century but not in great quantities until the mid-19th, were traditionally bound into volumes and referenced by the Archbishop’s name and then the volume number, from eighteenth century material for Archbishop Thomas Secker (1693-1768) such as ‘Secker 2’ to more modern material such as ‘Coggan 31’ which includes requests for Archbishop Coggan to pray for rain during the long hot summer of 1976.

Currently work is progressing on the papers of Archbishop Robert Runcie (1921-2000), and his material is housed in archive quality folders with each file having an alphanumeric code which identifies the series of which it forms a part. This could be the so-called ‘main’ section, which reflects the main filing system used within Lambeth Palace at the time or series relating to specific activities, such as Anglican Communion visits (ACV). Some material was not managed as part of these series, so has a reference which reflects that; examples include photographs (PHOTO) and diaries (DIARIES). Further such material relating to senior staff from the period will be added to the catalogue in due course.

From 1933-1982 the Council on Foreign Relations served as the Archbishop of Canterbury’s ‘foreign office’ and its papers were managed separately. Cataloguing work on these is ongoing and the material has the reference CFR. From 1982 its functions were merged into the main Palace administration, so relevant material is within the Runcie papers.

For many earlier Archbishops, some papers which might be considered to be their official material are within the Library’s sequence of manuscripts, which have the reference MS. Often these are items which have entered the Library well after the period of office of the relevant Archbishop. A good example is MS 3274, which are papers of Archbishop Charles Manners Sutton (1755-1828), and which include letters from numerous bishops and politicians. They were acquired through the help of the Friends of the Library in 1984.

The best way to identify relevant material within the Archbishops Papers is to use our online catalogue of archives and manuscripts, where relevant references should be visible in the ‘Order No’ field. But don’t be surprised if they take a variety of forms.

Sion College Library Provenance Project


Richard Rawlinson (1690-1755), a bibliophile and bishop of the Church of England, donated many books to Sion College Library (A83.2ap/H22)


Gilt armorial stamp of Sion College Library

Sion College Library was founded in the early 17th century for the clergy of the City of London. The Sion collections, now held by Lambeth Palace Library, have been greatly enriched over the centuries by numerous donations and bequests. These collections strongly reflect the very wide community of citizens who supported Sion College Library: everyone from nobility, surgeons and attorneys to merchants, stationers and many of London’s clergy. The names of each donor were listed by the College in a volume known as the Book of Benefactors (see Sion L40.2/E64 for a transcription), but many of the books also contain physical evidence of their previous owners.


Do you recognise this hand-painted armorial bookplate found in a Lutheran Bible of 1536? (A13.6/L97)

With a major project currently underway to catalogue the 30,000 early printed books in the Sion collections, it has become clear that marks of provenance are both numerous and varied, and that evidence of previous ownership, such as bookplates, inscriptions, ink stamps and armorial bindings, can reveal the history of an individual book. Inspired by the University of Pennsylvania’s wonderful Provenance Online Project (POP), the Printed Books team here at Lambeth have created the Sion College Library Provenance Project:

18th century bookplate of the Dutch sea captain, J. G. Michiels (A96.6/J23)

18th century bookplate of the Dutch sea captain, J. G. Michiels (A96.6/J23)

The project’s home page allows you to view all of our images, organised in chronological order with the most recent shown first. There are also separate sets for each different category of provenance mark (with most types divided into “identified” and “unidentified” examples): – Identified bookplatesUnidentified bookplatesIdentified inscriptionsUnidentified inscriptionsIdentified bindingsUnidentified bindingsIdentified stamps Unidentified stampsIllegible inscriptionsSion College Library marksBinding wasteAnnotations. You can also browse the collections using the tags we have added to each entry.

In addition to showing the different marks of provenance within the Sion collections, the project also aims to seek your collaboration and comments to help decipher and identify as many of our provenance marks as possible. If you know of any information that would help identify an entry, please feel free to sign in and leave us a comment or transcription! We look forward to hearing from you.

Click here to visit the project: Sion College Library Provenance Project

A83.2a B14E (2)

Can you decipher this inscription? Let us know! (A83.2a/B14E)

The Printed Books Team

Herborising and the High Church – the story of the Reverend Richard Thomas Lowe (1)

This year Lambeth Palace Library and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew: Library, Art & Archives have been engaged in a collaborative project looking at the role played by clergymen in the study and progress of natural science. The intimate links between members of the clergy and the development of science may to some seem unexpected, but the significant role of clergymen has been both influential and far reaching. With potential postings to far flung locations, time between pastoral duties and reverence for the natural world, these educated men were well placed to undertake scientific investigations. It is these links which the collaborative project has sought to explore, focusing primarily on the complex and intriguing character of the Reverend Richard Thomas Lowe (1802-1874). Lowe’s achievements as a naturalist have been obscured as a result of the controversies he caused on Madeira in relation to his clerical practices during his time as chaplain on the island in the 19th century. This series of blogs posts will examine this tale of ecclesiastical intrigue – it is a story of suspicion, principles and unwanted innovation which is revealed through our respective library and archival collections.

IMG_1240 Lowe edited

Photographic image of Richard Thomas Lowe, courtesy of the National Archives (J 121/2416).

Lowe first journeyed to Madeira as a Travelling Bachelor in 1826 following his graduation and ordination as deacon (on Christmas Day 1825) in Christ College Cambridge. He arrived on the island’s shores in company with his ailing mother, Susanna Lowe (his father having died when he was an infant). The trip was to be cathartic, spiritual and educational – a heady mixture. For Lowe’s mother the island offered comfort from the ravaging symptoms of consumption (tuberculosis or TB). Madeira was effectively an island sanatorium; its temperate climate offered respite and comfort from the debilitating disease. For Susanna’s son, however, Madeira presented an opportunity. Although it had been explored by the likes of Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820), Lowe was convinced that fresh discoveries lay waiting to be made by an intrepid naturalist.


View of Madeira from 1807 (The English Church in Madeira by H.A. Newell, 1931, plt. 3. Lambeth Palace Library, H5697.M2).

After many months of exploring the island’s natural riches, Lowe decided to remain on Madeira (he had return to England briefly to receive his MA and be ordained as a priest in September 1830). He was soon presented with an opportunity which would boost his professional prospects. In 1831 the chaplain on the island, the Reverend William Deacon, offered Lowe the position of temporary chaplain to the flock of residents and visitors who attended the little English Church on the island (now known as the Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity). Deacon was to return to England for a time and was in need of a reliable and capable locum. Lowe had made a favourable impression both with Deacon and the congregation – he was the natural choice to fill the position. The temporary role was fortuitous, but Lowe may well have had his sights fixed upon more. It was generally known that Deacon was amid a wrangle over his salary. This was to be reduced by £100 a year and in protest he was to remove himself to England until the matter was resolved.  There were, however, suggestions that Deacon’s sojourn would become a permanent move and his position would fall vacant – Lowe, was in a prime position.

Lowe fulfilled the role of locum with care and diligence. He preached to his receptive congregation and the established pattern of worship continued without aberration. The only difficulty for Lowe, was the limited time he was left with for his botanising over the course of the season (the sheer volume of the sick who resided on the island kept the chaplains of Madeira very busy, offering succour and comfort where they could), but he was a dedicated clergyman and continued to minister to the best of his ability. All seemed to be going well, but his spell as spiritual leader was put to an abrupt end – Deacon returned early and Lowe stood aside.


Exterior view of the English Church on Madeira as it appeared in 1844 (The English Church in Madeira, by H.A. Newell, 1931 plt. 5. Lambeth Palace Library, H5697.M2).

For the time being Lowe could dedicate his time solely to his natural history research (find out more on Kew’s Library, Art & Archives blog). Soon, however, the foundations laid during his temporary position yielded fruit. Around 1832/33 Deacon retired and Lowe was once again in a position to step neatly into his shoes. He wrote excitedly to his great friend Sir William Hooker (1785-1865) (who had been Professor of Botany at Glasgow University and then famously Director of Kew from 1841) to tell him of the “comfort of a permanent provision and employment in my profession”:

I am sure you will be glad to hear I am likely to succeed at the end of the year to the Chaplaincy of this place, under circumstances peculiarly gratifying…the Brit[ish] Residents have unanimously & of their own accord entirely, come forward, drawn up and submitted a memorial in my favour to the Government (Directors’ Correspondence 58/179).

All did not quite commence without incident. Lowe refused to assume the position of chaplain until he had officially received word from the Government and the Bishop of London – much to the fury of Madeira’s consul Henry Veitch (1782-1857) who held sway on the island. He withheld Lowe’s salary and threatened to appoint another chaplain if the current nominee was unwilling. Lowe backed down and settled into his role, being officially recognised as chaplain on 31st December 1833.

For the time being the skies seemed clear and life resumed its tranquil rhythm, but storm clouds were brewing.
A5 leaflet HerborisingYou are warmly invited to come and view our collaborative exhibition “Herborising and the High Chiurch…” which runs until 20th July 2015 in the Reading Room at Kew.


Charles Blomfield, Correspondence between the Lord Bishop of London (1846) [ Lambeth Palace Library, H5133 472.11]
Herbert Andrew Newell, The English Church in Madeira (1931) [Lambeth Palace Library, H5697.M2]
Foreign chaplaincies: three letters to the Lord Bishop of London (1853) [Lambeth Palace Library H5150 12.13]
RBG Kew: Library, Art &Archives, Directors’ Correspondence 58/179
RBG Kew, Library, Art & Archives: Directors’ Correspondence 58/171
Patrick H. Armstrong, The English Parson-naturalist  (2000)                                                               Roy Nash, Scandal in Madeira: the story of Richard Thomas Lowe (1990)


Dr Richard Palmer has begun a project to produce new online descriptions of the early catalogues of Lambeth Palace Library 1610-1785, funded by the Friends of Lambeth Palace Library.

The first catalogue of the Library Records, 1612 (ref: LR F1 f68r)

The first catalogue of the Library Records

New descriptions have been completed of the early catalogues of the Library up to the transfer of the books to Cambridge. In addition work began on a guide to the catalogues, shelf marks and other physical evidence of the collection and its arrangement over the centuries. This now covers the early history of the Library until the return of the collections from Cambridge in 1664, including accounts of the catalogues produced at Cambridge and the shelf-marks added there. Photographs are being taken as the work progresses. The guide will be hosted on the Library’s website.

Of special interest is the new description of LR/F/57, which has hitherto been overlooked by scholarship. This is a catalogue of the printed books, made in preparation for their return to Lambeth in 1664 and probably delivered to Lambeth with them. It begins as a packing list, recording the books in the order of the barrels in which they were placed for transport. Then the compiler gives up the task, recording the rest in the order of the shelves from which they came.

The Archives of the Board for Mission and Unity (BMU)

What is Mission?

Then: ‘Dedicated Christians, Bible in hand, going to far-away places to preach the Gospel.

Now: ‘Overseas work is still important, but the approach is different. What is more we live in a missionary situation here at home’.

The text above, which was extracted from a 1982 pamphlet published in the Diocese of Croydon, provides a succinct appraisal of the nature of missionary work at points in time some hundred years or so apart. In doing so, it sums up rather well a century-long transformation in missionary thought and endeavour which can be charted in fine detail in the recently completed catalogues of the archives of the Board for Mission and Unity (BMU) and its predecessors.

Dating from the formation of the Board of Missions of the Convocation of Canterbury in 1884 and concluding in 1991 when BMU was subsumed into the Board of Missions, the archive documents comprehensively the Church’s reappraisal of the notion of missionary work. Once considered best left to brethren of somewhat idiosyncratic societies, despatched to distant lands to ‘spread the word’, the more modern, broadened concept of missionary work saw matters closer to home come into focus, whilst the work overseas moved into the area of ‘World Development’.

Operating as an Advisory Body to the Church Assembly (later General Synod), the ‘Board’ underwent a number of name changes over time to reflect its changing responsibilities and re-structuring within the Church. After the initial Board of Missions came the Central Board of Missions (1908), Missionary Council (1921) and Overseas Council (1951). In 1949 a Council for Ecumenical Co-Operation was also formed, and in 1963 this would join together with the Overseas Council to form the Missionary and Ecumenical Council, which then became the Board for Mission and Unity in 1972. Totalling around 600 boxes of material, the archive records the central role played by the BMU (in all its incarnations) in the Church’s efforts to move away from the inherited usage of the term ‘missionary’ and the undertones it carried, and encourage clergy and laity alike to view missionary as more than ‘something we do somewhere else’ and an ‘optional extra’.

As the name Board for Mission and Unity makes clear, mission was not the only area of concern for the Board, with the ‘recovery of Christian Unity’ being an equally important part of its remit. The linking together of mission and ecumenism was an initiative at which the Anglian Church was at the forefront, particularly in the latter half of the 20c, as it reached out ecumenically to Roman Catholics and Methodists amongst others. The work of BMU would be central to this aim, as Conversations, Consultations and Conferences were all serviced by BMU staff, while the Committee on Roman Catholic Relations, an advisory body answerable to the BMU and the Archbishops, was set up in 1972 to continue work began by the Commission on Roman Catholic Relations as part of the Council of Foreign Relations.

On matters of both mission and Unity the Board acted as a conduit between General Synod and the dioceses, carrying communication in either direction: directives from Synod were carried out in the parishes and deaneries, and reports on these were transmitted back through BMU to Synod for discussion and evaluation. Further areas of work of BMU staff included maintaining close relationships with the Missionary Societies which had paved the way in the missionary field, being the principal channel of communication between General Synod and the World Council of Churches, British Council of Churches and other bodies, and keeping abreast of theological Faith and Order issues raised by the search for Unity.

In 2003 the successor to BMU, Board of Missions, was amalgamated with another General Synod body, the Board for Social Responsibility (BSR), to become Mission and Public Affairs. As part of a 16 Project made possible following the award of a generous grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation via the National Cataloguing Grants Programme for Archives, both the BMU and BSR archives have been catalogued. They can be consulted at the joint Church Of England Record Centre / Lambeth Palace Library electronic archives and manuscripts catalogue entering either BMU or BSR as the OrderNo field.

A gift for Archbishop Tait – a translation of the Rosetta Stone


Part of the translation of the Rosetta Stone

Report of the Committee appointed by the Philomathean Society of the University of Pennsylvania to translate the inscription on the Rosetta Stone. Philadelphia : Rosenthal, 1858.

In 1858 Henry Morton, Charles R. Hale, and S. Huntington Jones, three undergraduate student members of The Philomathean Society at the University of Pennsylvania, published the first complete and direct translation of the Rosetta Stone from its trilingual inscription into English. They had spent the last two years deciphering the ancient Hieroglyphics, Greek, and Demotic text from a plaster cast of the Rosetta Stone, and in doing so they deciphered characters that had not previously been defined. They privately published their findings in this stunning and highly decorative chromolithographic publication, the first American book to be printed entirely by lithography. Their work was met with worldwide praise and recognition.

The Rosetta Stone

The Rosetta Stone

Of particular note in the Lambeth Palace Library copy of the Report is the inclusion of a handwritten letter from Charles Hale to Archibald Campbell Tait, Bishop of London, later to become Archbishop of Canterbury. The letter is dated Christmas, 1858, Philadelphia, and reads:

My Lord,

            May I beg you to accept from one of the authors the accompanying volume the work of young men began by them while undergraduates at College and finished soon after leaving it while engaged in professional studies. We have printed (privately) an edition of four hundred copies mostly for subscribers and the stones are now destroyed. I had the pleasure of calling upon you some eighteen months since at your residence with a note of introduction from my honoured friend Bishop A. Potter.The memories of the visit are very pleasant to me. You supposed that I was a clergyman and although you were unfortunately mistaken I am happy to inform you that I am a candidate for orders. As I expect my life to be a busy one this may be my last as well as first effort in this direction.Your course has been watched and admired by many on this side of the Atlantic who pray that God may continue to guide and bless you.

                        Believe me Sir with greatest respect, Your Lordships Obedient servant

                                                            Chas. R. Hale

May I be favoured to hear of the safe arrival of this packet. My address is in the care of (my father) Gen. R.C.Hale, Philadelphia. 

Examples of the lithographic illustrations found throughout the publication

Charles Ruben Hale ended his successful and busy ecclesiastical career as the Bishop of Cairo, Illinois.

A full-colour pdf. of the Report is freely available via the University of Pennsylvania Archives and Record Centre website:


Title page of the Report

Women’s ministry – the Community of St. Andrew

The first deaconess community in the Church of England was established in 1861 authorised by the Bishop of London – Bishop Tait. Originally called the North London Deaconess Institution and now known as the Community of St. Andrew, this religious community has recently transferred their papers to Lambeth Palace Library and they reveal some of the rich story of women’s ministry in the Church of England over the last 150 years.

Elizabeth Ferard became the first officially sanctioned deaconess in the Church of England on 18 July 1862. The office of Deaconess was the highest order for women in the church until 1987 when women were first ordained as deacons. The ordination of women obviously had a huge impact on the Community of St. Andrew and some sisters chose to be ordained as deacons whilst others preferred to remain deaconesses. Some of the papers catalogued so far document how the community was affected by women’s ordination to the diaconate and also the priesthood.

The document shown below published in 1862 describes the work of the sisters of the community and shows that the deaconesses operated under the auspices of episcopal authority.CSA Description

One of the most interesting parts of the collection is the diary of Elizabeth Ferard that documents her visit to the deaconess institution in Kaiserswerth in Germany. This institution was established in 1833 by Pastor Fliedner of the Lutheran church and by 1858, 220 Deaconesses had been set apart there. Other English women such as Florence Nightingale gained nursing experience at Kaiserswerth and Ferard writes in her diary that her visit there had a huge impact on developing the deaconess ministry in England. When she returned to England she was resolved to creating a similar institution here.   Her return in 1858 coincided with a discussion at the convocation of Canterbury about reviving the order of deaconess and thus the conditions for the first deaconess institution in England were set.

Selected extracts of Elizabeth Ferard’s diary were re-produced in print by Henrietta Blackmore in ‘The Beginning of Women’s Ministry, The Revival of the Deaconess in the 19th Century Church of England’, (2007). This is available to read in Lambeth Palace Library reading room. You can find it in our online printed books catalogue at

The records of the community have been very well cared for by one of the sisters – Sr. Teresa who did a lot of work preparing the collection for transfer to Lambeth Palace Library. A list of the collection made by Henrietta Blackmore and later supplemented by Sr. Teresa has been extremely helpful in determining the contents of the archive. An archivist doesn’t often get this kind of help to discern the correct arrangement and content of an archive, often having to sort through huge piles of disparate papers to find the original order. Preserving the original order of any collection is one of the core jobs of an archivist and coming across such a well-cared for collection is gratefully received!

Work on the collection is progressing well with 20 of the 69 boxes already catalogued. Re-packaging of the collection into archival containers is one of the principal jobs to ensure their long term preservation in the stores at Lambeth Palace Library. The collection will be made available to the public for the first time through our online catalogues and should be completed by August 2015.