Henley Parish Library

This collection is the residue of the parish library founded in 1737, under the will of Dr Charles Aldrich (1681-1737), Rector of Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, from 1709 to 1737, who bequeathed his own books to the parish. Miscellaneous additions were made thereafter.

The collection comprises around 400 works in 475 volumes, all but three pre-1851 - some imperfect and unidentified. Less than half the collection is concerned with theological, devotional and biblical works. There are strong groups of geography, history and voyages (around 60 volumes, including De Bry, India orientalis (1598-1612)): science and mathematics (around 45 volumes including Archimedes (Basle, 1544), Copernicus (Basle, 1566), Flamsteed, Atlas coelestis (1729)): classics (around 40 volumes): philosophy, law, literature, art and architecture are also represented. There are 38 STC, 127 Wing, 34 ESTC items, and 20 16th century and 118 17th and 18th century continental works. Binders are represented by William Seale of Oxford on Epictetus and Theophrastus (1707, ed. Charles Aldrich, dedicated to Henry Aldrich).

A period of neglect in the second half of the 19th century led to some 250 works being transferred to Christ Church, Oxford in 1909, for safe keeping, and a further 9, in 1942. Many of Aldrich's books were originally Christ Church 'duplicates' obtained under the provisions of the will of his uncle Dean Henry Aldrich (see P Morgan, Oxford libraries outside the Bodleian (1972), p30-1). The residue of about 475 volumes, many in poor condition, was transferred to Reading University Library in 1957 on permanent deposit. The collection has been extensively restored with the help of a grant from an anonymous donor.

The following items from the Henley Parish Library have appeared as our featured item:

[Image, above right, taken from Kircher Musurgia universalis, 1650]

More information

  • The collection is fully catalogued and appears on Enterprise.
  • There is also a manuscript catalogue of the collection available at the Special Collections Service 
  • J.A. Edwards, 'Manuscript catalogue of Henley Parish Library', Library history, 1, no 6 (Autumn 1969), p216-7
    Directory of parochial libraries: England and Wales. Rev. ed., Bibliographical Society, 2004
literature, science & hisory of science, economics & economic history, church history & theology, history printed books (pre-1850) Y henley parish library

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