21 July 2012

Petition to Save the Mendham Collection

The following was posted on Exlibris-l on 19 July. I encourage everyone to please not only sign the petition, but to also circulate it far and wide in an effort to save this historic library.


Dear colleagues,

I am writing to ask for your support for a campaign by the University of Kent and Canterbury Cathedral to save the Mendham Collection, a historic library of manuscripts and printed material.

Its founder, Joseph Mendham (1769-1856), was an Anglican vicar and, in the words of the Dictionary of National Biography, a ‘religious controversialist’.

The collection was given to the Law Society in the 1860s, and then loaned by them to the University of Kent and Canterbury Cathedral in 1984. You can browse through the collection's holdings on the University's library catalogue by looking up the keyword 'Mendham'.

Although we have an agreement with the Law Society until the end of 2013, they have suddenly decided to sell the most valuable items at auction to plug a hole in their finances. On Wednesday, Sotheby's took away about 300 of the most valuable books.

Colleagues in and beyond Kent are extremely distressed by this and are hoping to draw attention to the plight of the collection. We are entreating the Law Society to pause so that we can try to find a way to preserve the collection intact for current and future researchers. We have sympathy for the Law Society's predicament but are nonetheless horrified that this historic collection is to be sacrificed.

Yesterday, we launched a petition: please add your signature if you would like to help us to secure the future of the Mendham Collection.

Sincerely yours,


Dr Alixe Bovey
Chair, Mendham Collection Task Force
Director of the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies & Lecturer in Medieval History
School of History
University of Kent


Images of the books being removed and packed up can be found here.

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