Colchester's 'forgotten' library finds new home
The Albert Sloman Library has recently started cataloguing
some 900 books, comprising the personal library of a great Colcestarian,
Archbishop Samuel Harsnett (1561-1631) which has been deposited with the
library for archiving and preservation.
Harsnett, born the son of a baker in St. Botolph's Street and educated
at Colchester grammar school, was, at the age of ten, left money to buy
books, by a wealthy puritan. At 16 Harsnett attended Cambridge followed by
an unsatisfying return to Colchester as master of the grammar school.
Harsnett then became Master of Pembroke College and Vice-Chancellor before
rising through the church as Bishop of Chichester, Norwich and then in
1629, Archbishop of York. Whilst Harsnett is commemorated in Colchester
with a statue on the Town Hall and a stained glass window in St. Boltophs
Church, his library adds another legacy by which Colchester can remember
one of its famous sons.
Harsnett's life covered an age of great growth in the literacy of the
English population and the works available to them, which is reflected in
the collection. But the collection is also a reflection of the wider age
in which Harsnett lived - an age of great controversy. Many of the books
are polemical treatises relating to contemporary controversies between the
Churches of England and Rome, as well as works on theological subjects and
travel published throughout Europe in the fifteenth, sixteenth and early
seventeenth centuries. Also included in the collection are several
incunabula - books printed before 1501 as well as one book from the
library of King Henry VIII.
As part of his will Harsnett bequeathed his personal library to the
Corporation of Colchester for the benefit of the Clergy of the town. The
collection has remained in the town ever since, residing at various times
in the Grammar School, Colchester Castle, and the County Library. Its new
home in the special collections room of the Albert Sloman Library allows
the collection to be stored in controlled archival conditions and
professionally catalogued in a machine-readable form for the first time.
The cataloguing of this spectacular collection got under way recently
under the supervision of Clare French, Sub-Librarian.
Nigel Cochrane, Deputy Librarian, said: 'Cataloguing the entire
collection is quite a task and will take us some time to complete.
However, once catalogued it will provide an invaluable research resource
for members of the University and also the wider community. We hope to
have completed cataloguing in about a year or eighteen months times.'
The University is at an early
stage of discussion with the University of East Anglia (UEA) and Suffolk
College with a view to becoming involved in a significant expansion of
higher education in Suffolk.
Suffolk College, based in Ipswich, has
suggested that it would be willing to contribute its current higher
education provision - amounting to 2,100 full-time and 2,900 part-time
students - towards the project. Suffolk College has been an accredited
college of UEA since 1992.
It is hoped that the partners will be able
to develop proposals leading to the establishment of a new campus based on
the waterfront in Ipswich supported by a number of learning centres across
Discussions have been advancing, and the
Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and the East of
England Development Agency (EEDA) have both indicated that they are
prepared to support the provision of higher education in Suffolk. HEFCE
has also indicated that it is likely to make more resources available for
a collaborative development involving more than one higher education
As part of the discussions KPMG were
engaged in 2002 by UEA to assess the demand for higher education in
Suffolk and the feasibility of a new campus. Cambridge based consultants,
Segal Quince Wicksteed (SQW) were subsequently asked by the Suffolk
Stakeholders' Group to review the potential options for enhancing higher
education provision in Suffolk.
In discussions, the two universities have
agreed that the project should be owned and managed collaboratively. Essex
and UEA, together with Suffolk College, have established a six-person
steering group accountable to all three institutions. The group is charged
with taking forward ideas for the academic and institutional plan for the
'combined universities' model.
Richard Lister, Director of External
Relations, said: 'Although still in the early stages of development the
new venture will help to diversify our curriculum and expand our local
area of influence, particularly with the NHS, and provide more choice with
flexible delivery within the region.'
Also in the printed November edition of Wyvern:
- University to pilot plagiarism detection service
- Have your say on Europe
- Celebrations for Southend graduates
- NTI celebrates first birthday
- New Sociology social space unveiled