LIBRARY RECORDS PROJECT 1785-1953 UPDATE 4

Dr Richard Palmer reports that during October and November the project focused on the librarianship of Claude Jenkins, 1910-1952. A clergyman and scholar, Jenkins was celebrated both for his learning and his eccentricity.

His vigorous early years at Lambeth are documented in his letter books and his reports to Archbishop Davidson. During this time the printed books in the Great Hall were re-arranged, and a new catalogue of the pamphlet collection was compiled. Extensive work was carried out on the muniment room to render it fireproof. In the Great Hall, which served as the Library’s reading room, four of the projecting bookcases were shortened to accommodate the Lambeth Conference and other smaller bookcases were introduced.

lc171-3

The Lambeth Conference in the Great Hall in 1930, with the truncated bookcases visible (LC 171/3)

 

Funding for the Library remained insufficient throughout Jenkins’ librarianship despite increases in provision by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. Archbishop Longley had predicted in 1868 that the inadequate funding for the Librarian’s salary would necessitate the appointment of either a person unqualified for the post or a scholar who would supplement his income with additional employment. In 1918 Jenkins was appointed Professor of Ecclesiastical History at King’s College London and from this time he provided, at his own cost, an assistant, Irene Churchill, for the work of the Library. After 1934, when Jenkins became Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Oxford, he ran the Library by post from Oxford. The correspondence between Jenkins and his devoted assistant is amongst the more unusual files in the Library’s records (Irene Churchill addressed Jenkins as ‘Most dear Chief’, while Jenkins’ replies tended to lapse into Latin). Irene Churchill provided access and all public services in the Library with the assistance only of a boy to fetch and carry, though Jenkins complained in 1929 that the Library could not afford a boy old enough to carry the heavier books.

These arrangements were scarcely adequate to deal with the challenges of the Second World War and the bombing of the Great Hall, although Jenkins did offer his advice in the task of post-war reconstruction. It was said of Jenkins that he was not of a retiring disposition; on being winkled out of office as Librarian at the end of 1952 he secured the title of ‘Honorary Librarian’, so that, as his successor put it, ‘there were two of us’.

The project, funded by the Friends of the Library, has now catalogued 70 boxes and volumes of Library records, completing the cataloguing of this series to 1952. A guide to the records and other evidence for the history of the Library 1785-1952 should be accessible on the Library’s website early in 2017.

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