By John Martin

Lambeth Palace’s first new building project in 180 years will create a new home for its library. Lambeth Palace Library has the largest European collection of books, documents, and artifacts outside the Vatican.

Among its historic treasures are the execution papers of Mary, Queen of Scots, and a prayer book recovered from the body of King Richard III. The collection, which dates back 1,200 years, comprises 200,000 books (30,000 from before 1700). Its 5,000 manuscripts include 600 medieval documents, official papers of the Archbishops of Canterbury, and treasures such as Elizabeth I’s prayer book and papers of Sir Christopher Wren, who designed St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

The collection is spread across several buildings on the site, including Morton’s Tower, the palace’s entrance lodge built in 1490, and a main reading room, which dates to 1663. Declan Kelly, director of libraries for the Church of England, said existing space cannot be adapted to protect and preserve the collections under required standards.

Sandy and Clare Wright of Wright & Wright Architects in London will design the new library.

Image: The Lambeth Palace Library contains historic manuscripts and documents dating to the 9th century. • Lambeth Palace

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