The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 36 Lambeth and Battersea

Lambeth Palace 1

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Lambeth Palace, the London residence for seven centuries of the Archbishops of Canterbury, who acquired the manor from the see of Rochester by exchange about 1190-1200. The building was begun by Archbishop Boniface in 1262, but few of his successors failed to add to or alter it in some way. The residential part, in a debased Gothic style, was built by Edward Blore for Archbishop Howley in 1829-38. For a visit to the Palace application to the archbishop's private secretary is necessary; but the library is open to the public daily except Saturday (10 to 4 or 4.30; Tuesday in the forenoon only; closed for 5 or 6 weeks from September 1st). We enter the palace by the South Gateway, a noble redbrick structure erected by Cardinal Morton in 1490 (note his rebus, M and a tun, on the ancient leaden pipe). We are first shown the Great Hall, rebuilt as the dining-hall by Archbishop Juxon at the Restoration and measuring 93 feet by 38 feet. The roof, 70 feet in height, resembles that of Westminster Hall. This hall now houses the Library, the nucleus of which was bequeathed to the see by Archbishop Bancroft in 1610, with 40,000 printed books and 1300 volumes of manuscripts. Among its rarities, some of which are usually shown to visitors, are Aldhelm's 'De Virginitate' (8-9th century); the Gospels of MacDurnan, written at Armagh and given by Athelstan in 945 to the monks of Christchurch, Canterbury; the 'Dictes or Sayings of the Philosophers' (temp. Edward IV.); a Koran (15th century ?); the 'St. Albans Chronicle' (15th century); Queen Elizabeth's prayer-book; the 'Gutenberg Bible,' printed at Mayence by Fust and Schoeffer in 1450-55, one of the six extant copies of the ten that were printed on vellum; the 'Cronicles of England,' printed by Caxton in 1480; the 'Nuremberg Chronicle' (1493); and 'The Golden Legend,' printed by Wynkyn de Worde in 1527.