Building on Church History: The Church in London
The Diocese of London Lambeth Palace Library King's College London The Open University

Lambeth Palace Library

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i. Overview

The Lambeth Palace Library is the historic library and record office of the Archbishops of Canterbury and the principal repository of the documentary history of the Church of England. Its collections have been freely available for research since 1610. The records held here date from the 9th century to the present day, and their broad scope reflects the office of Archbishop as head of the Province of Canterbury, his national and international roles in leading the Church of England and the Anglican Communion worldwide, and the wealth and power of Archbishops in past centuries which enabled them to collect books and manuscripts of the highest quality and significance. In 1996 Lambeth Palace Library took into its care all the early collections of Sion College, the historic library of the City of London clergy, which comprise manuscripts, pre-1850 printed books, and pamphlets. Its collection complements that of Lambeth with a key focus on the Church, but a rich diversity of other subject material.


ii. Contact Details

Lambeth Palace Library,
London SE1 7JU

Telephone: (020) 7898 1400

Fax: (020) 7928 7932



Open: Mon-Fri 1000-1700

Lambeth Palace Library location map

Map from

iii. Access
Access to the Library's collections is freely available to the public and appointments are not necessary. However, on their first visit users must obtain a reader's ticket which is valid for five years. In order to be issued with a ticket, readers should bring the following:
For a ticket valid only for post-1800 printed material, all microfilms (which include marriage allegations before 1851) and all original wills,please bring proof of permanent address (eg. driving licence, bank statement, utility bill) and two recent passport-style photographs.
For a ticket valid forall classes of material, including original manuscripts and archives of any date, and pre-1800 printed material, please bring, in addition to the above, a formal letter of introduction (eg. from an academic supervisor/colleague, archivist, librarian, employer, vicar, or someone known to you in a formal capacity). Please note that we do not accept e-mails as a form of introduction. In addition, special permission is needed for access to some categories of material, eg. original illuminated manuscripts. It is a condition of access that all readers observe the rules of the Library.

iv. Catalogue
Lambeth Palace Library has separate online catalogues for its collections of printed books; and archives and manuscripts. Further details about the wide ranging collections held at Lambeth including a number of subject research guides are
available on the Library’s website.
The online printed books catalogue includes over 130,000 items held by the Library, including the entire collections of printed books, prints and periodicals. It does not generally contain records for the Sion College collections, for which card catalogues are available, though Sion material is gradually being added.
The online catalogue of archives and manuscripts includes descriptions of original records held at the Library and at the Church of England Record Centre, although it is not complete, with new entries being added on a regular basis.
The Church Plans Online website gives online access to the catalogue database and digitised images of the 13,000 plans in the archive of the Incorporated Church Building Society (ICBS).


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