This is a list of archives and research libraries in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. The list is divided into sub-categories to make it easier to find which archives or libraries you are interested in visiting, including cathedral libraries, private archives, and public libraries.
Each entry has a website link, brief description about the types of resources the repository contains, as well as information about what you are required to do before visiting – for example, making an advanced appointment to visit the archive as there might be limited spaces – and how accessible the library or archive is, especially if the particular repository is only open on certain days of the week.
The aim of this list is to showcase the range of archival and library repositories which are accessible to interested members of the public and to researchers.
In addition, you may be interested in the Royal Historical Society’s own archive (at University College London) which specialises in the personal and institutional records of the Society and the wider historical profession, c.1860-2020s.
If you would like to suggest an addition to this list, please let us know by filling in the contact form.
National Libraries and Archives
The Archives Centre at the Mersey Maritime Museum, Liverpool, is an archival repository which houses a broad collection of manuscripts, maritime, and slavery books from the early eighteenth-century. Researchers and interested members of the public can access a reference library which cover all aspects of maritime history, including slavery, the merchant navy, and the Liverpool Nautical Research Society’s collections. The Maritime Archives contains records relating to Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, slave traders and abolitionists, seamen’s charities, and registers of merchant ships, although the website specifies which materials they do not hold, including passenger and emigration lists, or official records of merchant seamen. The archives are open two days a week and manuscripts can be consulted by prior arrangement.
BCA in Brixton, London, is the UK’s national cultural heritage centre which is dedicated to the preservation, collection and celebration of the histories of African and Caribbean people in Britain. Originally a community archive, BCA houses an extensive collection of archival material, including photographs, personal papers, organisational records, material objects, and ephemera. The archive is open three days a week and researchers wishing to access the archive should do so by prior appointment.
The British Library is the national library of the UK and has two sites: St. Pancras in London and Boston Spa in Yorkshire. The British Library holds a vast collection of manuscripts, including the Cotton manuscripts, Harley manuscripts and Sloane manuscripts, as well as printed books, newspapers, music books, maps, and Asian manuscripts. The British Library is open six days a week to researchers and members of the public and those wishing to visit the reading rooms to read or consult manuscript material must register for a readers’ ticket upon arrival.
The BT Archives in London preserves and provides researchers with access to BT’s history dating back to 1846, at the dawn of telecommunications technology. The archives are of interest to researchers and members of the public who want to learn about BT’s cultural and scientific heritage. The archives are housed in the Holborn Telephone Exchange and can be accessed two days a week by appointment only.
Chetham’s Library in Manchester is a library, archive and museum which has been open to members of the public for over 350 years. The library was founded in the seventeenth-century by Humphrey Chetham to be a library that would cater for northern England and that would rival book and manuscript collections held in the universities. Chetham’s Library contains a diverse range of manuscript, archival and printed material dated from the medieval period to the present day. Visitors can consult reading and manuscript material by prior appointment.
IWM holds an extensive collection of archival material relating to the history of the modern war from 1917 to the present day, held in the Imperial War Museum in London. The IWM contains collections including war posters, printed material, film footage, photographs, official records, personal papers, art, and oral history recordings. Researchers wishing to consult material should do so by prior arrangement with the archivists.
TNA is the UK’s legal deposit library, a non-ministerial department, and the official archive and publisher for the UK government and England and Wales. The archive holds an extensive collection of archival material, including State Papers, Colonial Office Papers, War Office Papers, military records, Cabinet minutes meetings, and other legal records. TNA is open five days a week to researchers and members of the public. Visitors wishing to consult material will need to have a readers’ ticket and are advised to pre-order material in advance to view upon arrival.
The National Maritime Museum Library and Archive in Greenwich, London, has “the largest collection of manuscripts and documents in the world relating to maritime history.” The National Maritime Museum’s library contains a vast collection of reference and printed material, including over 12,000 rare books printed before 1850 which cover topics such as slavery, piracy, shipwrecks, shipbuilding, exploration and biographies of naval figures, as well as over 400 periodicals. The archive at the museum holds manuscript materials including the papers of famous naval officers, including Horatio Nelson and John Franklin, diaries, journals, logs of ships and voyages, and the business records of some shipping lines and shipbuilding companies, alongside crew lists and certificates. Additionally, the archive houses over 80,000 historical sea charts and maps dating from the fifteenth- to the twenty-first centuries. The National Maritime Museum Library and Archive is open to all researchers and interested members of the public, and those wishing to consult the collections (in the Caird Library at the museum) will need to register for a free reader’s ticket.
The Parliamentary Archives in the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, contains documents and manuscripts relating to over 500 years of British parliamentary history and politics. The Parliamentary Archives possesses a diverse range of collections that relate to local, national, and international history from the fifteenth-century to the present day, although records of government departments (civil service), The Crown, the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court, and pre-1497 records of Parliament (The Chancery) are held at the National Archives of the UK. The archive is open to researchers and members of the public, although visits must be arranged by prior appointment.
The Postal Museum Archive, based in the Postal Museum, London, contains documents and material relating to the history of the postal service in Britain. Visitors can access and view microfilm copies of archival material, photographs, poster albums, catalogues, visual materials, as well as explore family history. The Archive contains over 400 years of original material relating to the history of the postal service and communications history in Britain, including stamps, posters, photographs, the archive of the Royal Mail Group PLC, and Post Office Ltd. The Postal Museum provides an online catalogue to search for materials. Those wishing to consult original materials need to do so by prior appointment and by bringing in two forms of ID.
The Pusey House Library and Archive is housed in Pusey House, an Anglo-Catholic institution in Oxford. The library and archive was opened in 1884 in memory of Edward Bouverie Pusey, who was regius professor of Hebrew at Oxford University and a canon at Christ Church cathedral, who was a leading figure in the Oxford Movement within the Church of England. The Pusey House Library contains a vast collection of theological and historical materials, which includes Pusey’s own library, while the archive contains material on the Tractarians and Oxford Movement, the records of Anglo-Catholic societies, communities of monks and nuns, and the papers of Pusey and other leading figures including Cardinal John Henry Newman and John Keble. The library and archive is open 5 days a week and researchers wishing to consult material can do so without an appointment, though advised to do so for archival material, and a letter of introduction and forms of ID are required if you are not an Oxford University student.
The Wiener Holocaust Library is one of the international archives which deals extensively with material on the Holocaust and Nazi era. The library was formed in 1933 and contains a collection of over one million items including published and unpublished works, press cuttings, photographs, and eyewitness testimonies. Wiener Holocaust Library continues to develop for the UK and international community, by dedicating itself to support research, learning, and teaching about the Holocaust and genocide. This includes offering competitions and the annual Ernst Fraenkel Prize, free public access to three temporary exhibitions a year, educational resources for schools and universities, and skills workshops.
Inns of Court Archives
Gray’s Inn Archives contains archival material related to the running of its Inn of Court in London. Among Gray’s Inn’s records includes the Pension Books, which are the records of the meetings of the Inn’s governing body from 1569, its admission registers from 1581 (though records of living or recently deceased members are closed to the public), and manuscripts dating from the eighteenth-century related to the Inn’s internal administration, buildings and management, as well as photographs, publications, ephemera and illustrations. Gray’s Inn also contains marriage registers from its chapel dated between 1695 to 1754, and baptismal records, as well as the surviving records of Barnard’s Inn and Staple Inn. The archive is open five days a week and researchers wishing to consult material must do so by prior arrangement with the Inn’s archivist.
The Inner Temple Archives holds archival material relating to the history of the Inner Temple from 1505 to the present day. The archive contains records including admissions, day-to-day administration of the Inn, management of the Inn by Treasurer and Council members, education, Call to the Bar of members, and records relating to the Temple Church. The archive is open to members of the public two days a week and researchers wishing to consult material must do so by prior arrangement with the Inn’s archivist.
Lincoln’s Inn Library and Archives contains over 150,000 books relating to English legal history, including textbooks, law reports, legal journals, government publications, Commonwealth legislation and law reports. It also holds rare books and manuscripts, including the Hale Manuscripts, 63 medieval manuscripts, as well as the books of four common law judges dated from 1771 to 1816. The library and archive is open five days a week to members of the Four Inns of Court and researchers wishing to consult material should do so by prior arrangement with the archivist.
The Middle Temple Library holds extensive material relating to the history of the Inn and its legal history from 1500 to the present day. The archival material the Library holds includes records of the governance of the Inn, members information, the development of its legal education, Minutes of Parliament, and financial archives. The Library is open to members of the Inn, researchers and interested members of the public and those wishing to consult material should do so by prior arrangement with the archivist.
Private Libraries and Archives
Arundel Castle Archives in Arundel, West Sussex, is a private collection of manuscripts and papers owned by the Duke of Norfolk. The papers held in Arundel Castle include all its family papers, southern estate papers (Norfolk, Suffolk, Surrey, Sussex and London), while its northern estate papers, except title deeds, are on loan-deposit at Sheffield City Archives and Local Studies Library and the Hull History Centre. The collections at Arundel Castle comprises of documents dated from the twelfth-century to the twentieth-century, and four archive catalogues of the papers are available online. The papers include inventories, family papers of the Howard family (Duke of Norfolk), the Talbot family papers, parliamentary papers, and manorial and estate papers. The archives are open three days a week by prior appointment, and researchers are required to pay a fee to consult material.
Dr Williams’s Library is a private library located in Bloomsbury, London, and is “the library of Protestant dissent.” The library was founded in the early eighteenth-century by London nonconformist Dr Daniel Williams and today contains 135,000 printed books on topics ranging from Christian theology, ecclesiastical history, philosophy, other religions, science, and the humanities. Dr Williams’s Library also contains manuscripts from the early modern period, including the papers of Richard Baxter and Roger Morrice, as well as the original minutes of the Westminster Assembly. Researchers can consult material in the library by prior appointment.
Gladstone’s Library is a residential library located in Hawarden, Flintshire. The library is the “only Prime Ministerial library”, which was founded by William Gladstone, and remains dedicated to him in his memory. The library holds not only the personal library of William Gladstone, but also Gladstone’s non-political correspondence, speeches, papers, as well as the Glynne-Gladstone Archive. Additionally, Gladstone’s Library contains over 150,000 books, journals, and pamphlets on a wide range of subjects, including theology and religion, literature, history, politics, and literary culture. Researchers wishing to consult material at Gladstone’s Library need to either be a Resident at the Library or apply to be a Reader or ReaderPlus, with advance notice needed prior to visiting the library. Gladstone’s Library also offers bursaries and scholarships to take up a residency to study at the library.
Longleat House Library and Archives, in Longleat, Wiltshire, is a private collection of manuscripts and papers owned by the Thynne family. The papers held at Longleat include early medieval manuscripts to modern material, with much of the archive still in use by the management of the House. Many of Longleat’s best known documents held in their library and archives collection have been published in microfilm editions – including the Carteret Papers, Coventry Papers, Devereux Papers, part of the Dudley Papers, Seymour Papers, Talbot Papers, Portland Papers, Prior Papers and Whitelocke Papers – which are available at public libraries (including the Institute of Historical Research, British Library and Cambridge University Library). Those wishing to visit Longleat House Library and Archives must do so by prior arrangement, and researchers are required to pay a fee to consult material.
Thomas Plume’s Library in Maldon, Essex, is a private library founded in 1704 after Dr Thomas Plume, Vicar of Greenwich and Archdeacon of Rochester, bequeathed his collection of over 8,000 books and pamphlets to his native hometown. The book and pamphlet collections include classical and antiquarian books written in the sixteenth- and seventeenth-centuries that were produced for school and university learning. The library houses his book collection and his small collection of paintings, and an online catalogue of the library’s book and manuscript collections can be consulted. Researchers can visit Thomas Plume’s Library by prior appointment, and identification is required before material can be consulted upon arrival.
Northern Ireland Archives and Libraries
The Armagh Robinson Library, in the city of Armagh, was founded in 1771 and is a public library, archive, and museum. Additionally, No.5 Vicars’ Hill, a short walk away from the main Armagh Robinson Library, holds Church of Ireland and civil records-related material, as well as other library collections, including coins, Bronze Age weapons and fine art portraits. The Robinson Library holds a vast range of archival, manuscript and printed material, including early modern printed books, genealogical resources, and newspaper and photograph collections. The Robinson Library is open five days week and material can be consulted by prior appointment.
The Museum of Free Derry in Londonderry holds material in its archive relating to Northern Ireland’s radical and civil rights heritage. The archive focuses on major moments of Northern Ireland’s recent history, including Bloody Sunday, the history and Battle of Bogside, and its civil rights movement. The museum can be accessed seven days a week and visitors wishing to view material in the archive need to contact the archivists by prior appointment.
PRONI, located in the Titanic Quarter in Belfast, is the official archive for Northern Ireland. The repository contains a diverse range of archival material dating from 1600 to the present day, including corporation records, freeholders’ records, court and inquest records, will calendars, the Ulster Covenant, maps, government records, photographs, and family papers. The archive is open five days a week and researchers should book in advance if they wish to consult material.
Scotland Archives and Libraries
The Moving Image Archive, based at the NLS in Edinburgh, is Scotland’s national moving image collection. The archive collects, preserves and promotes films which capture Scotland and its people from the earliest days of film-making to the present day, including documentaries, wartime clips, home movies, cinema newsreel, Gaelic television broadcast, and education and public information films. Researchers can view and watch over 2,600 clips and full-length films at the NLS and those wishing to access the archive will need to register for a readers’ ticket upon arrival.
NLS in Edinburgh is Scotland’s legal reposit library and holds documents relating to the history of Scotland. The NLS has an extensive collection of archival material, including newspapers, photographs, a moving image archive, rare books, sheet music, manuscript collections, maps, and theatre. The NLS is open five days a week and researchers wishing to visit the library must book in advance and will need to register for a readers’ ticket upon arrival.
NRS in Edinburgh collects, holds and preserves material about Scotland’s people and history, and is a Non-Ministerial Department of the Scottish Government. The NRS’s collections include Scottish government records from the twelfth-century to the present day, church records, records of courts of law, businesses, landed estates, maps, plans, Scottish census enumeration books, the National Health Service Central Register, as well as records for births, deaths, marriages, divorces, adoptions and dissolvements. Researchers wishing to consult material can visit the NRS five days a week without a prior appointment for most material, though first time visitors will need to register for a readers’ ticket upon arrival.
The NatWest Group Heritage Hub focuses on the history of around 250 past and present banks which banded together over the centuries and its heritage in banking history. Researchers can learn about the individual figures involved in its history, the different banking companies, women in banking, war memorials, mobile banking, how its banknotes have evolved in history, as well as information on the impact of war on its banks. The archive is open by appointment only, so researchers or interested members of the public wishing to view or consult material must do so by prior arrangement with the archivists.
SJAC in Glasgow is dedicated to preserving and promoting the history of Scotland’s Jewish heritage and Jewish people’s experience in Scotland covering the last 200 years of history to the present day. The SJAC has a vast collection of material, including old synagogue minute books and registers, photographs, membership lists, personal papers, war medals, oral history recordings, books of Scottish Jewish interest, paintings, and sculptures. SJAC is open to researchers and members of the public five days a week and those wishing to visit and consult material can do so by prior arrangement with the archivists.
Wales Archives and Libraries
NLW in Aberystwyth is the national repository of archival material relating to the history of Wales, its culture, and its heritage. The NLW includes over 40,000 manuscripts, 1,500,000 maps, 60,000 works of art, 950,000 photographs, 6,000,000 books and newspapers, and extensive records relating to sound, film and video. The library is open six days a week and visitors must be in possession of a reader’s ticket in order to consult material in its reading rooms.
The Neath Antiquarian Society Archives – housed in the Neath Mechanics’ Institute – is the West Glamorgan Archive Service’s branch in the town. The archives contain the historic archival collection belonging and relating to the Neath Antiquarian Society and the local history of the district of Neath, including its architecture, art, history, local customs, lectures, meetings, and other activities. The archive is open two days a week and first time visitors will need to register for a reader’s ticket in advance.
The Richard Burton Archives, located in Swansea University Library Archives, contains archival material of local, regional, and national significance for the history of Wales. The archive includes papers relating to the Mumbles Railway, metallurgical industries, family papers, religious records for the Roman Catholic church and Methodist circuit, the Richard Burton collection (which focuses on the life and career of Burton on stage and screen), the South Wales Coalfield Collection, the papers of Welsh authors, photographs, and architectural plans. The archive is open five days a week and prior appointment is required for researchers wishing to consult material.
RBLA, located in the Special Collections library at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Lampeter, holds a vast range of manuscript and archival material. The repository includes over 35,000 printed works, medieval and post-medieval manuscripts, 69 incunabula, atlases, as well as early student registers and photographs dated from the mid-nineteenth century related to the history of the university. The library is open five days a week and material can be consulted by prior appointment.
Republic of Ireland Archives and Libraries
Chester Beatty Library in Dublin is a museum and archive which promotes “the appreciation and understanding of world cultures with holdings of manuscripts, rare books, and other treasures from Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia.” The Reading Room at Chester Beatty allows visitors to consult their collections of material objects and their reference collection. The library reference collection comprises of over 18,000 books, periodicals, and sales catalogues. Its subject holdings include Buddhism, Buddhist iconography, calligraphy, East Asian art, Christianity, Islam, Islamic art, Arts of the Book, illuminated manuscripts, and printmaking. Researchers and scholars are permitted to access the collections by appointment only.
Edward Worth Library in Dublin holds the book collection of eighteenth-century Dublin physician Edward Worth. The physician bestowed his collection of 4,300 books to Dr Steevens’ Hospital, where the library is now housed. The books collection is primarily strong in texts relating to early modern medicine, the history of early modern science, and the history of the book, although the collection also contains books on topics ranging from history, Classics, and philosophy. The Edward Worth Library is opening during normal working weeks, though researchers wishing to consult material must do so by prior appointment and are required to produce letters of introduction and a statement of their research project.
King’s Inns Library in Dublin is a legal reference and lending library. The library is Ireland’s oldest “formally established institution of professional legal education” having been founded in 1541. The library houses over 110,000 volumes of legal and non-legal works. The general collection at King’s Inns Library includes books on art, history, classics, and literature, while the legal collection contains mainly Irish, and many English, standard textbooks, including statutes, reports of cases and legal periodicals, and also covers European, Commonwealth and American law. King’s Inns Library is accessible to registered students and members of the Honourable Society of King’s Inns; it is at the discretion of the Library Committee or Librarian acting on its behalf to admit non-members and non-registered students, so a written application is required for approval. Although the library is not open to the public, the library staff can answer enquiries about past members of the Society and they can provide genealogical research information for a monetary charge.
Marsh’s Library in Dublin was founded in the early eighteenth-century by Archbishop Narcissus Marsh and still operates today as a research library. The library holds an extensive manuscript and book collection, including Marsh’s own books, the library of English bishop, theologian and controversialist Edward Stillingfleet, the library of John Stearne, bishop of Clogher, and the Benjamin Iveagh Library. The library is open five days a week and researchers interested in the visiting the library must do so by prior appointment.
Maynooth College Archives was founded in 1795 as the National Catholic seminary of Ireland and is located at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Co. Kildare, after Irish Catholic scholars and lecturers fled the continental colleges because of the French Revolution. The archives include the papers from the Irish College in Salamanca, which comprise of over 50,000 administrative documents dating from the foundation of the college in 1592 to the mid-twentieth century. The archives also contain papers from other Irish colleges, including Lisbon, Valladolid, Santiago de Compostela, Seville, Madrid, and Alcalá de Henares.
The Military Archives of Ireland in Rathmines, Dublin, is the repository for records relating to the Defence Forces, Department of Defence, and the Army Pensions Board. The objectives of the Military Archives is to “collect material relating to the foundation of the State up until the present day”, which includes records such as the Collins Papers, Civil War Operations and Intelligence files and Captured Documents relating to the Civil War. The archive is open to academic researchers, genealogists and family historians, and material can be consulted by prior arrangement with the archivists.
The National Archives of Ireland in Dublin was founded in 1988 after the amalgamation of the State Papers Office (SPO) and Public Record Office of Ireland (PROI). The National Archives holds records relating to government of the modern Irish state from its foundation after the civil war utnil 1988, which includes business by all government departments, court offices and bodies, archives of British administration in Ireland from the eighteenth- to the early-twentieth centuries, including the Chief Secretary’s Office Registered Papers, as well as landed estate, solicitors’, business records, and medical collections. The National Archives is open to researchers and the public though those wishing to visit will need to register for a readers’ ticket upon arrival.
NLI in Dublin preserves, collects, and promotes documentary and intellectual histories relating to Ireland. The collections at the NLI include periodicals, newspapers, maps, sheet music, Gaelic manuscript collections dated from the fourteenth-century to present day, Landed Estate Papers and Deeds, gender history manuscript collections, extensive collections relating to the development of the Irish national movement, including papers of Daniel O’Connell and Sean T. O’Kelly, as well as photographs, drawings, and diaries. The NLI is open to all members of the public, though those wishing to read and consult material will need to register for a readers’ ticket upon arrival.
The Royal Irish Academy Library in Dublin holds an extensive collection of manuscript and archival material relating to Irish history from the sixth-century to the present day. The Library’s manuscript collection contains English and Latin resources on Irish history, society and politics, including deeds, Books of Survey and Distribution, pamphlets, antiquarian books, drawings, and photographs. Researchers interested in consulting material should do so by prior communication with the archivists.
Trinity College Dublin holds over 20,000 collections of manuscripts and archives dating from 13th BC to the present day. Aside from the Book of Kells, Book of Durrow and Book of Armagh, their collections include manuscripts on intellectual and economic history, as well as manuscripts which detail the spiritual lives of explorers, landowners, servants, students, politicians, scholars, rebels, priests, nuns, clergymen, and patriots. Researchers can access Trinity College Dublin Manuscripts and Archives at its advertised times by prior appointment and visitors will need to produce photographic identification and a letter of introduction upon arrival.
UCD Archives, in University College Dublin, specialises in the acquisition of private paper collections associated with the history and development of the modern Irish state. It contains the papers of many prominent Irish public figures including diplomats, senior civil servants, members of government and the judiciary, presidents, and EU commissioners. The archive collects records of organisations such as political parties, trade unions, professional and cultural associations, and sporting bodies. Additionally, UCD Archives curates many of the Irish Franciscan manuscript patrimony, while the Micheál Ó’Cléirigh Institute for the Study of Irish History and Civilization holds major series of medieval and early modern manuscripts transferred from the Franciscan Library Killiney. Researchers can access and consult materials by prior appointment only.
CCAL holds substantive material ranging from manuscripts, historic records, photographs, maps, and printed books dating from the late eighth-century to the present day. The Cathedral Library contains 30,000 books and pamphlets printed before 1900, and over 20,000 books and serials published in the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries on topics including church history, theology, travel, natural science, medicine, anti-slavery, and national and local history. The Cathedral Archive holds the records of the East Kent parishes, while the Diocese of Canterbury archive is housed at the Kent and History Library Centre in Maidstone.
Chelmsford Cathedral Libraries and Archive holds modern material relating to the cathedral, while its historic archival material is housed in the Essex Record Office. Chelmsford Archive provides a record of the cathedral’s activities, its legal framework, and information about the buildings and its artefacts. The South Porch Library houses the Knightbridge Collection of mainly sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Protestant writings. The collection also contains material relating to Essex, the Diocese of Chelmsford, and diocesan arrangements preceding the formation of the diocese. The Courtyard Library, based in the Cathedral Centre, holds contemporary books and periodicals and is accessible at its advertised opening times.
Chichester Cathedral Library holds books dating from the twelfth-century to the present day, and contains books on topics ranging from history, music, architecture, archaeology, local history, geography, church history, theology, as well as Bibles and prayer books. The library also holds contemporary photographs and images, which have been digitised. Researchers can access Chichester Cathedral Library by prior appointment only.
Bishop Rawlinson Library is housed in the Derby Cathedral Centre opposite Derby Cathedral. An online catalogue is provided for those wishing to locate manuscripts or printed books. Bishop Rawlinson Library is accessible to members of the Cathedral and Bridge Chapel congregations, the Diocese of Derby, and members of the local community. Researchers can visit Bishop Rawlinson Library by prior arrangement only.
Durham Cathedral Library traces back to the library from Lindisfarne in the Anglo-Saxon period. The Cathedral Library acquires works relating to the history of the cathedral and its collections, the local region, works of bibliography and manuscript studies, as well as major reference works. Its manuscript collection includes over 300 manuscripts dating from the pre-Reformation, copies of the Magna Carta, the Durham Gospel, as well as bibles, canon law books, medieval library catalogues, and mortuary rolls. The Cathedral Library’s modern books are held in the Sharp Library and Chapter Library, while researchers wishing to consult its Special Collections must contact the archivists to arrange an appointment.
Palace Green Library was originally founded in the seventeenth-century by Bishop John Cosin and today concentrates on its archival and special collections. The library holds a diverse range of materials, including early printed books, family papers, and papers relating to the history of Durham and its cathedral. It holds over 100 medieval manuscripts, over 30,000 maps and prints and 100,000 photographs, and 3,400 metres of archives and artefacts. The library is part of a network of other libraries within Durham University, including the Priory Library, Cathedral Library and Archive, as well as Ushaw College Library. Palace Green Library can visited at its opening times by appointment and through open consultation.
Exeter Cathedral Library and Archives holds thousands of the Cathedral’s Dean and Chapter’s books and manuscripts, which date from the tenth- to the twenty-first centuries. The library contains medieval manuscripts, early printed books and modern published texts on subjects including local history, medicine, science, and theology. Exeter Cathedral Archives holds records relating to the history of the cathedral and its Dean and Chapter including the buildings, people, and its former estates across Devon, Cornwall, and Oxfordshire. The library is accessible by prior appointment.
Gloucester Cathedral Archives and Library contains books and manuscripts which date from the eleventh-century to the present day. The Cathedral Archives contains architects’ records, photographs, material relating to the Three Choirs Festival, Dean and Chapter Act Books and Treasurer’s Accounts, manuscript music part books, cartularies, and a series of medieval deeds. The Archives also holds material from the medieval Abbey of St Peter and later administrative records of the Dean and Chapter of Gloucester. Estate records of the Dean and Chapter are located at Gloucestershire Archives. Researchers can access material by prior appointment only.
Guildford Cathedral Archives holds a variety of material related to the history and heritage of Guildford Cathedral. This includes photographs, architectural plans, correspondence, and books and memorabilia contained within 140 boxes and 53 folders, though new material is regularly added to the collection. The collection includes correspondence between architect Sir Edward Maufe and the contractors; the Diocese, Bishop, and Chapter; and a collection of drawings of churches by Dr John Clark. The Archives is accessible by appointment only.
Hereford Cathedral Library and Archives holds records of the Dean and Chapter relating to the history of the cathedral and its property from the Middle Ages to the present day. The Archive collection includes title deeds, minutes, accounts, maps, manorial and ecclesiastical court records, personal papers, and architectural drawings. Historical collections consist of medieval manuscript books, early printed books, nineteenth-century works, printed and manuscript music, as well as drawings, prints, and photographical materials. The records relating to the archives of the Bishop of Hereford and other diocesan records are housed in the Herefordshire Archive and Records Centre. The Library and Archives can be accessed at its advertised opening times and by prior appointment.
Lambeth Palace Library, London is a historic library and record office of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the principal repository of the documentary history of the Church of England. The records in the library date from the ninth-century to the present day, and the manuscripts are broad in scope. This includes material relating to the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury as head of the Province of Canterbury, his national and international role in leading the Church of England worldwide, as well as vast collections of manuscripts and books accrued over the centuries. Currently, Lambeth Palace Library reading room is closed for consultation until 2021 while manuscripts are moved in a joint repository merger with the Church of England Record Centre (CERC). CERC contains records dating from 1704 to the present day. The records include: Church Commissioners; Archbishops’ Council; National Society and Church of England Pensions’ Board; as well as the records of their predecessor bodies.
Lichfield Cathedral Library is housed in the Chapter House of Lichfield Cathedral and holds a large manuscript and book collection. The original Medieval library collection was dispersed during the Civil War. The Dean and Chapter records are housed in the Staffordshire Record Office, including material on property, litigation, Chapter records dated from 1384 to 1950, and the cathedral fabric. The library is accessible to researchers and scholars by appointment only.
Lincoln Cathedral Libraries holds two libraries: the fifteenth-century Medieval Library and the seventeenth-century Wren Library. The Medieval Library was originally built as a chained library and housed the cathedral’s collection of handwritten manuscripts. The Wren Library contains half of the cathedral’s printed books, many of which belonged to Dean Michael Honywood. The collection includes 120 incunabula, and books on a range of topics, including history, travel, science, nature, literature, and geography. Researchers can access the library by prior appointment only.
Liverpool Cathedral Archives holds a collection of drawings, letters, and artefacts relating to the building and history of the cathedral from the beginning of the twentieth-century to the present day. The Cathedral Archives does not allow visitors to have personal access to the collection, but the archivists respond to inquiries by email and telephone regarding their material, especially for family members who have historic links to the cathedral.
Manchester Cathedral Archives hold two distinct collections: the Capitular papers and the parish records. The Capitular papers contains records of the minutes from Chapter meetings dated from 1635 onwards, legal records concerning the leases of land on the Chapter estates, material concerning the fabric of the building from 1756, Precentors’ registers (recording daily music settings) from 1863, service sheets and printed ephemera dated from 1832, and photographs of the building, ceremonies and individuals, from c. 1850 to the present day. The parish records hold an extensive collection of parish registers of baptisms, marriages, and burials from 1573 to the present day. This includes 30 townships for the parish of Manchester, and 45 townships in the parish of Whalley.
Norwich Cathedral Library consists of the Dean and Chapter’s historic collection of the cathedral, as well as the library of the Lincoln Theological Institute. Records relating to the pre-Reformation Benedictine priory and the post-Reformation Dean and Chapel are held in Norfolk Record Office. Norwich Cathedral Library has specialist book collections, including the Brian Runnett Music Library, the Norfolk Parish Libraries, and the Norwich Diocesan Association of Ringers (NDA). The Library is accessible and visits can be arranged outside its normal hours.
Christ Church Cathedral Library and Archives is primarily intended to support Oxford University students during their studies. The Upper Library consists of a large collection of early printed books and manuscripts, on topics ranging from music, theology, early science, travel numismatics, medicine, classics, and Hebrew studies. The library is accessible to members of the College wishing to view the modern collections on the ground floor, while books and manuscripts can be consulted by college members and visiting researchers by institutional letter of introduction and a valid Bodleian Library reader’s card.
Peterborough Cathedral Library is held in the Rare Books Collection at Cambridge University and consists of 4,500 volumes and around 60 incunabula. Most of the Abbey’s and Cathedral’s surviving books and papers from before 1800 are held at Cambridge University Library, and the collections can be viewed by the Cambridge University ‘Newton’ catalogue. The material at Peterborough Cathedral includes religious texts and commentaries from the nineteenth- and twentieth-centuries, documents relating to the cathedral, a miscellany of local history texts, newspaper cuttings, cathedral and diocesan magazines and periodicals, and calendars of the proceedings of various medieval and Tudor courts, including Chancery records. Peterborough Cathedral Library can be accessed for research by prior appointment.
Rochester Cathedral Library is located in the former monastic vestry of the cathedral. A catalogue of the original Priory Library contained a list of 93 volumes, and today five original volumes from the original priory library have remained in Rochester, including Textus Roffensis which can be dated from 1122. A full online version of the pre-1900 catalogue is accessible with instructions provided for user. Rochester Cathedral Library is open to researchers by appointment only.
Salisbury Cathedral Library was originally founded in 1445 to support the private study of the canons and priests of the cathedral and diocese. The library is still a private collection today, but individual visitors “with a genuine research interest or enquiry” are permitted to visit the library by prior appointment to carry out their own research. Researchers who wish to view manuscripts pre-1800 need to provide a letter of introduction and/or a reference for when they arrive at the library.
St Albans Cathedral Library is a modern theological lending library located in the Chapter House of the cathedral. Members of St Albans Cathedral can access a wide collection of books including spirituality, theology, philosophy, ethics, and biblical studies. St Albans Cathedral Archives holds material relating to the history and spiritual life of the cathedral from its foundation to the present day. Few of its manuscripts and charters survive from the pre-Reformation, but much of its archive holds collections of photographs, drawings, letters, books, and other materials relating to the history of the cathedral and abbey. Researchers can visit by appointment only.
St George’s Chapel Archives, Windsor, holds a collection of historic books, manuscripts, and archival material belonging to the Dean and Canons of Windsor. The Chapter Library contains over 6,000 rare books, mostly dated between the late-fifteenth and the mid-eighteenth centuries, while the archive contains material relating to the history of the Chapel, the properties the Chapel once owned, and the Order of the Garter. This material includes accounts and deeds dating from the twelfth-century, collections of personal papers, correspondence of individuals associated with the Chapel across the centuries, as well as photographs, maps, and plans. Access to the library is through prior appointment only.
St Paul’s Cathedral Library was almost destroyed in the Great Fire of London, although lists surviving from 1313 shows what books were originally held. The current library was restocked from the library of Henry Compton, the Bishop of London, as well as the library of John Mangey, vicar of Dunmow and Prebendary of St Paul’s. In the nineteenth-century, large collections of ecclesiastical tracts, sermons, and pamphlets were added. The collection at St Paul’s Cathedral Library includes books on church history, theology, patristics, the history of the Church in England, Wren, the building of the cathedral, alumni material, and the Church in the City.
Wells Cathedral Archives comprises of the records of the Dean and Chapter of Wells from the eleventh-century to the present day. The records provide information on the day-to-day running of cathedral property in Wells and Somerset from c. 1060-c.1860s, although not personal or family papers. Administrative and financial records survive from the fourteenth-century (chiefly regarding Chapter property from the seventeenth-century), as well as Cathedral registers of baptisms, marriages, and burials dated from 1660. Additionally, the Archives holds records of the College of Vicars Choral, 1348-1933, and the records of the Wells Old Almshouses, founded in the fifteenth-century, and an extensive collection of photographs and plans. Records are accessible by prior appointment only.
Worcester Cathedral Library and Archive is used by scholars and members of the public as a resource for study. The library contains 298 medieval manuscripts, and 6,600 post-Medieval books collected by the post-Medieval Dean and Chapter and Bishops of Worcester, and 19,000 archive documents, which range by date from the Middle Ages to the present day. The library also preserves the parish libraries of St. Nicholas (Worcester), Bromsgrove, Feckenham, and Great Malvern churches. Additionally, Worcester Cathedral Library and Archive houses a music collection, which contains work, including Sir John Elgar and Thomas Tomkins. Researchers wishing to consult material should contact the archivists.
York Minster Archives holds an extensive collection of records and manuscripts which date from 1000 to the present day. The archives contain the records of the Chapter of York, including the fabric rolls which list how the Minster was built, as well as prints, plans, and drawings of the building and surrounding land. York Minster Library and Archives holds a diverse collection of material objects, dating from the Roman times to the present day. The manuscript collection in York Minster Library contains over 90,000 books. It holds historic printed collections of the Chapter of York dating back to the 1470s and is a modern reference and lending library. Visitors and researchers can access material by prior appointment.
ABSI (Archivum Britannicum Societatus Iesu) in London, chiefly holds manuscripts and records relating to the Jesuits and their activities in Britain. ABSI contain papers which concern the administration of the British Province by the Provincial Curia, as well as the personal papers and correspondence of deceased members of the Province. This includes records of the Jesuit communities, Province works, and material relating to the overseas missionary work of the Province and the Cause of the Holy Martyrs. Additionally, ABSI possesses a collection of antiquarian books consisting of works by members of the Province and “those defined as being important for the post-Reformation history of Catholicism in Britain” and the spirituality of the Society. Researchers wishing to visit this private archive must do so by prior appointment and by providing written details about their research topic.
The Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre Library and Archives in York holds extensive collections of records relating to Church History, and particularly the history of recusancy throughout the early modern period. The Bar Convent Archives contains manuscripts relating to the history of the Congregation of Jesus (previously named the Institute of Blessed Virgin Mary), the history of Bar Convent, including journals, annals, and account books, and its school. The Archive contains transcripts of Bar Convent founder Mary Ward, as the originals are held in Munich. The Bar Convent Library houses a collection of antique books in several languages, which date from 1508 to 1850, as well as several Catholic journals and theological texts. Researchers can access material by prior appointment.
Campion Hall, Oxford College Archives holds papers relating to the daily running of the institution of the Society of Jesus, especially after the Hall’s foundation in 1896 when Catholics were officially permitted to return to Oxford University. Campion Hall Archives also contains a complete set for Sir Edwin Lutyens’s buildings (where the archive is based in Oxford); boxes of correspondence relating to works of art and historic vestments, including gifts and royalties bestowed by author Evelyn Waugh; letters and drawings relating to murals painted in the Lady Chapel; and notebooks, spiritual writings, and sketches by Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. Researchers can consult material by prior appointment only.
Douai Abbey Library and Archive in Woolhampton, Berkshire, contains over 100,000 books, including medieval manuscripts, early printed books, and works by recusant Catholics in the early modern period. Douai Abbey Archive holds artefacts and documents dating from the seventeenth-century, as well as the archives of several monasteries and religious orders, including the Dominicans and Passionists. Researchers wishing to consult materials must do so by prior appointment.
Downside Abbey Archives and Library in Stratton-on-the-Fosse, Somerset, holds historical collections, manuscripts, and material relating to monastery at Downside Abbey and the English Benedictine Congregation. Downside Abbey Library contains over 500,000 volumes of theology, philosophy, patristics, ecclesiastical history, and general history books, with earliest texts dating from the eleventh-century. The Library also holds a collection of incunabula, and medieval and early modern manuscript books. Downside Abbey Archives is the central repository of the English Benedictine congregation, and contains papers for Downside Abbey, Lamspringe Abbey, and papers relating to Ampleforth, Douai, and Belmont. Additionally, Downside Abbey has a large collection of papers relating to the English Martyrs, and collections on the archives of the English Benedictine nuns of Brussels. Visitors and researchers can access material by prior appointment only.
The Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral Archives contains manuscripts and papers relating to the history of the cathedral and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Liverpool. The Archives contains both Archdiocesan and Cathedral archival material, with bishops’ papers in the Archdiocesan Archives dating from 1840 to 1996. Some papers belonging to their early bishops are housed in Lancashire Archives, while comprehensive papers for Archbishops Downey, Beck and Worlock and can be assessed only with special permission. The Archives hold papers for St. Joseph’s Seminary, the Catholic Pictorial newspaper, and Parish Box Material. The Cathedral Library holds bound volumes of all pastoral letters, National Directories, Diocesan Pastoral Letters, National Media Office papers, and the National Union of Catholic Mothers Papers. Researchers can access material by appointment only.
The Scottish Catholic Archives holds information regarding Catholic archives in Scotland, mainly from the collections held in Columba House, Edinburgh. The Scottish Catholic Archives Historic Collection is on a long-term loan at the University of Aberdeen. The archives are useful for researchers and family historians interested in the Catholic Church of Scotland, and its link to European history. The holdings at Columba House include parish registers, diocesan records, letters of Mary, Queen of Scots, and baptismal records. Those wishing to consult the records at Columba House and the Historic Collection in Aberdeen must do so by prior appointment only on their respective websites.
Stonyhurst College in Clitheroe, Lancashire, houses manuscripts and papers relating to the history of Stonyhurst College school from 1593 to the present day. The Archives also contains materials from the medieval period to the twentieth century, including Jesuit history and education documents; the Boardman Collection of Medieval Manuscripts; theological manuscripts, including treatises and sermons; and recusant family papers, including the Shirburns and Welds who owned Stonyhurst before 1794. Stonyhurst College Library holds the surviving theological collections from St. Omer College, a working Humanities library, and the Arundell family library, which contains seventeenth-century Catholic texts and early modern printed books. Researchers can visit the archives by prior appointment only.
Ushaw Library in Ushaw College, just outside of Durham, holds a diverse range of collections and books which pre-date the Reformation to the twentieth-century, although it primarily holds collections relating to eighteenth-century Catholicism. The collections at Ushaw Library include the English College, Lisbon manuscripts; the Ushaw College Manuscripts; the Vincent Eyre Papers; 43 medieval manuscripts and fragments; and over 90 incunabula. Additionally, Ushaw Library possesses a variety of antiquated books, including a first edition of Charles Darwin’s On the Origins of Species, as well as books on literature, divinity, law, art, mathematics, science, philosophy, and history. To visit the library, researchers must arrange their visit a week in advance with the archivist.
The Westminster Diocesan Archives in Kensington, London, holds extensive papers relating to finance, property and education in Westminster diocese, as well as parish records, including some baptismal records and marriage registers. The Archives also possesses extensive manuscript and archival material dating from before the Reformation, although the bulk of the earlier papers date from the period between the accession of Elizabeth I to the Restoration of the Hierarchy in 1850. The archives are of benefit to those interested in family history, parish history, and religious history. Researchers can visit the archives by prior appointment only.