The Congregational Library

The Congregational Library was the brainchild of Joshua Wilson (1795-1874) and has at its core the enormous collection of puritan and later writings, both printed and manuscript, which he collected. Although a member of a prosperous family of silk merchants (his cousin John Remington Mills was said to be the richest commoner in England), Wilson was entirely free from the besetting sin of wealthy Victorian collectors, that of ripping off the original rough bindings from the treasures they found and handing the books over to binders who sent them back sumptuously clad in leather and dripping with gold leaf. Consequently we not only have the thousands of rare and interesting works Wilson sought out, but we have them in the condition in which their original owners bought and read them. Furthermore, because the library spent much of the last century being under-used, this tendency towards unspoilt condition continues even into Wilson’s own day and beyond, so that our sets of important series such as the Parker Society or Wyclif Society have not been used to death and re-bound, as in so many libraries, but are still smartly got up in their original cloth. Even when we come to the mid-twentieth century and the productions of the Independent Press and other publishers, the library has never had a policy of throwing away dust-jackets, so that many attractive examples of these have been preserved. 

 

  

War Damage

A Congregational Church in Swansea

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