History seminars at the IHR

History of Libraries

Conveners: Giles Mandelbrote (Lambeth Palace Library), Dr Keith A. Manley (The National Trust), Professor Simon Eliot (Institute of English Studies), Professor Isabel Rivers (Queen Mary)

The seminars are jointly sponsored by the Institute of English Studies, the Institute of Historical Research, and the Library & Information History Group of CILIP. 

Venue: Various locations outside of the University of London, as in the programme, below.

Time: Mainly Tuesdays, beginning at 17:30, unless otherwise indicated in the programme, below.

Some podcasts from this seminar are available online

Summer Term 2014
DateSeminar details
10 May Dr Geoff Day (Fellows' Librarian, Winchester College) will host a visit to the College Library and Archives at Winchester College


The Fellows' Library at Winchester College has books given by the founder, William of Wykeham, at the opening of the college in 1394 and has benefited from donations ever since. This tour of the various rooms of the library will display some of the more remarkable benefactions.

Please note:  this  session takes place on a Saturday.  Intending visitors should make their own way to Winchester in order to arrive at the College for 11.30 a.m. (see the College’s website for location details). For visitors from London, there are regular trains from Waterloo station with a journey time of one hour. A buffet lunch will be provided at the College. Numbers will be limited, and bookings (no charge) must be made in advance to jon.millington@sas.ac.uk no later than Monday 5 May.

Please note: the tour includes at least one medieval spiral staircase with irregular steps.


3 June Building monastic libraries in exile: the English convents and their collections in the seventeenth century

Dr Caroline Bowden (Queen Mary, University of London)

The English convents (apart from the Bridgettines formerly of Syon Abbey) were new foundations needing to build communities from scratch. They faced challenging conditions compared with their medieval predecessors: for instance living in exile with limited resources. Very few books appropriate to the religious life for women were available in the vernacular at the beginning of the seventeenth century. One hundred years later it is clear that the English nuns had surmounted many problems and created substantial working libraries.

This meeting will take place in the Conference Room of Lambeth Palace, followed by a drinks reception and small exhibition in the Great Hall. Those wishing to attend should send their names in advance to Mary Comer (mary.comer@churchofengland.org; tel: 020 7898 1263), not later than Friday 30 May. Admittance at 5.15pm via the main gatehouse of Lambeth Palace (the 15th-century brick tower facing Lambeth Bridge).


24 June After the success of the last session's Library Walk, led by Alice Ford-Smith (Bernard Quaritch Ltd.), a new walk is being organized

Details TBA


1 July Libraries at War: a walk through London's print culture in the Second World War

Alice Ford-Smith (Bernard Quaritch Ltd.)

This walk will carry you back through time to find out about the Second World War’s impact on London’s libraries. You are invited to spend a summer evening discovering how librarians, publishers and printers responded to conditions in London between 1939 and 1945.

From Chancery Lane to the streets of Bloomsbury, Alice Ford-Smith (Bernard Quaritch Ltd) will guide you through a book-focussed account of the Second World War. You will hear of lives lost, bombed buildings and destroyed books but also tales of resilience, ingenuity and a thirst for knowledge.   

The walk’s meeting point will be under the archway by the entrance to the Foyle Special Collections Library of King's College London. We will begin with viewing a display of material with a wartime theme in the Maughan Library’s Weston Room, which is the former Rolls Chapel. We will then set out to explore the streets of London. The walk ends at approximately 7.30pm in Bloomsbury, not far from the tube or pub. 

Numbers are limited to 25 people, and pre-booking is essential. Please email Jon Millington (jon.millington@sas.ac.uk) to reserve your place. Tickets, which are non-refundable, are £10 each.

Meeting point:     Foyle Special Collections Library
King's College London
Chancery Lane
London WC2A 1LR   

Tube:     Chancery Lane or Temple