THE Lambeth Palace Library is to move its 1200-year-old collection to a new, purpose-built building in the palace grounds.
The Church of England announced plans for the new multi-million-pound building on Tuesday, after it was found that the existing library — which is housed in several buildings within the palace complex — could not be adapted to preserve and protect the vast collection to modern standards.
Proposals are at an early stage, but the Church Commissioners, who developed the plans, announced that the project has been appointed to the architects Wright & Wright.
The library houses 200,000 books — more than 30,000 of which date back before 1700 — and 5000 manuscripts, of which 600 are medieval documents. It is the second-largest religious collection in Europe after the Vatican, and contains records that go back to the ninth century.
The collection includes priceless treasures, including a third edition of Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible, a prayer book recovered from the body of Richard III, and the execution papers of Mary, Queen of Scots. The library continues to receive the official papers of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Director of Libraries for the Church of England, Declan Kelly, said: "Lambeth Palace Library is of huge significance, and we are delighted to commission a new project that will not only preserve one of the most important historical and religious collections in the country, but ensure [that] the library and its archives are a source of inspiration for years to come."
The new building will be the first at the palace for 180 years. The last building to be completed was the Blore Building, in 1833, which contains the Archbishop of Canterbury’s residence and offices.
A partner at the architects, Clare Wright, said: "The opportunity to work on this exciting piece of history is unique.
"We look forward to working with the Church of England to develop a dynamic design to house a historic collection at Lambeth Palace so that it can be preserved and viewed by more people in the future."