Archives: The Journal of the British Records Association

SEVEN HUNDRED YEARS SINCE A SPADE COST SIXPENCE: RECORDS OF THE LAMBETH PALACE GARDEN

Archives: The Journal of the British Records Association (2017), 52, (135), 3–15.

Abstract

Archbishops of Canterbury have lived on the site occupied by Lambeth Palace for around 800 years. The palace garden is one of the largest private gardens in London, and has been cultivated since at least the fourteenth century. Lambeth Palace Library, which sits on the same site as the palace and was founded in 1610, is the historic library of the archbishops of Canterbury and the principal record office for the Church of England. Its collections date from the ninth century to the present day, and include archives, manuscripts, printed books, prints and artefacts. They reveal much about the history of the garden, but the survival of relevant material has often reflected the circumstances of the time rather than any acknowledgement that the history of the garden would be of interest in the future. Through using a range of material including a twelfth century charter, a nineteenth century print and a twentieth century diary written by the wife of an archbishop, the garden’s development can be traced with a modicum of confidence. Those researching the garden benefit from the variety and richness of the library’s collections, and the organisation’s long-standing desire and capability to augment them, but will probably suffer some frustration over gaps in the records. This can be seen as mirroring the experience of those with an interest in the activities of archbishops of Canterbury more generally.

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Author details

Watton, Matti