Library and Archive at Lambeth PalaceLondon
“The Church Commissioners for England have most successfully brought together and conserved the constituent parts of Lambeth Palace Library in this striking new landmark building for the use of scholars and the enjoyment of the public alike.”
Rolfe Kentish, Architecture Today
A significant new addition to London’s civic architecture, Lambeth Palace Library is the first new building on the site for 185 years and hosts the Church of England’s archive – the most important collection of religious books, manuscripts and archives in Europe, after the Vatican. A period of acclimatisation and phased transfer of the collection will follow, with the official opening anticipated to be in early 2021. The building is a sensitive yet distinctly modern architectural addition to the site of the Grade I listed Palace. Nestling in amongst mature trees at the north end of the garden at Lambeth Palace, the building sits on the south bank of the Thames, opposite Parliament. The location preserves the collection’s historic link to the Palace, while increasing public accessibility to the Library. In the new building the historic collections of Lambeth Palace Library – founded in 1610 and one of the earliest public libraries in the UK - and the records of the Church of England will be brought together, replacing inadequate facilities in a warehouse in Bermondsey, that risked the future of the collection.
The contemporary redbrick building has four and five-storey wings, rising to a nine-storey central tower, crowned by a viewing platform that will be periodically open to the public. The central tower is designed to register on London’s skyline, aligning it with historical architectural commissions by Archbishops of Canterbury over the centuries, and reflecting the national significance of the collection. In tandem, the viewing platform, which has direct sight lines across the Thames to the Palace of Westminster, reinforces the connection between the Church and the State embodied in the collection.