Lambeth Palace to get 'state of the art' library – first new building in 200 years

A CGI rendering of the new library planned for Lambeth PalaceLambeth Palace

Lambeth Palace, the historic home of England's Archbishop of Canterbury, is to receive a major update – its first in 200 years – with planning approved for a 'state of the art' new library building.

The advanced new library will house the palace's vast, rare literary collection that is second only to that of the Vatican.

The winning design proposal, by Wright & Wright Architects, promises a 'portal of knowledge' with its planned innovations.

Clare Wright, Partner at Wright & Wright Architects, said: 'We are delighted that the scheme has being given planning approval. It is a fantastic honour to be working on such a significant building, whose purpose resonates so powerfully with its site and context. Taking it forward will be a delight for the whole team.'

The construction will include a nine-storey tower which designers call a 'sensitive addition which will animate the skyline of Lambeth Palace'. The library, which will be open to the public, will be located on the palace grounds, on the south bank of the river Thames opposite the Palace of Westminster. It will offer views of the palace gardens and of the Houses of Parliament across the River Thames.

The proposed entrance to the library from Lambeth Palace road.Lambeth Palace
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Lambeth's historic archive includes items dating back to the 9th century such as a rare vellum Gutenberg Bible from the early 1450s and the only surviving copy a copy of the warrant for the execution of Mary Queen of Scots by Elizabeth I in 1587.

It holds 200,000 printed books, 4,600 manuscripts and various documents detailing not only Church history but essential writings on British and European politics, the monarchy, architecture, colonial history, local history and genealogy.

'We are very pleased at the way in which Wright & Wright and the whole team have responded to the exacting and challenging brief to achieve an outcome which will protect and preserve the collection, allow us to make them more accessible than ever before, be as environmentally friendly as possible, while creating a beautiful building which will be wonderful to work in and visit,' said Declan Kelly, Director of Libraries and Archives of the Church of England.

Since the 13th century, the palace has been the London home of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and its library was opened to the public in 1610. The new project is scheduled to be completed in 2020.

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