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New building for Lambeth Palace Library opposite St Thomas'

Plans for a new home for the historic collections of the Church of England - to be built in the gardens of Lambeth Palace - have been revealed by the Church Commissioners.

New building for Lambeth Palace Library opposite St Thomas'
The proposed new building seen from Lambeth Palace Road, looking south
New building for Lambeth Palace Library opposite St Thomas'
The new reading room will have views into the garden
New building for Lambeth Palace Library opposite St Thomas'
New building for Lambeth Palace Library opposite St Thomas'
The existing pond in the palace garden will be extended as part of the landscaping scheme around the new library

The new eight-storey building has been designed by Wright & Wright architects, with landscape design by the Lambeth-based Dan Pearson Studio.

The new library will house books at present crammed into a variety of spaces at Lambeth Palace itself, as well as the Church of England archive collections currently stored in a Bermondsey warehouse.

The books and records stored at the palace are being damaged by air pollution, and the palace buildings themselves are also suffering under the weight of the documents.

Under the proposals, the library building will have its entrance on Lambeth Palace Road, facing St Thomas' Hospital. Passers-by will enjoy a brief glimpse of the gardens through the entrance to the library building.

The top floor of the building will have a seminar room and viewing gallery. The top floor will be open to the public and will offer views of both the Palace of Westminster and Lambeth Palace.

Architect Clare Wright said the building would be "a rather delicate beacon in the city".

The scheme is funded by the Church Commissioners and if planning permission is granted, the new library could be ready in 2020.

"The plans for the new Lambeth Palace Library are exciting," said the Most Revd Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury.

"They enable us to preserve this important national collection while increasing accessibility, within a building that is a fitting architectural addition to the grounds and surrounding area."

Declan Kelly, director of libraries & archives for the Church of England, said: "The Lambeth Palace Library contains an unrivalled record of almost a millennium of English history and we have a duty to conserve and store it on behalf of the nation.

"The new library will provide reading rooms, public display spaces and conservation workshops, and will incorporate the best of archival and sustainable technology.

"We hope to create a building which is a fitting addition the historic Lambeth Palace complex as well as an exciting addition to this historic site in Lambeth on the South Bank."

By keeping the library in the grounds of Lambeth Palace, the Church Commissioners are complying with the terms of Archbishop Bancroft's bequest of 1610.

A public exhibition of the library development plans will be held at the palace on Thursday, Friday and Saturday this week. The scheme is also on the agenda for Thursday's South Bank Forum.

The palace gardens are now open to the public once a month during the summer. The final public opening of 2016 will be on Friday 7 October.

During the Lambeth Heritage Festival the library is hosting an exhibition entitled Lambeth and its Palace which contains many items of local historical interest, including material relating to the former Church Commissioners estates in Waterloo and the creation of Archbishop's Park.

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