Five books have recently been donated to the Diocesan Archives and they are a reminder that a Parish library is nothing new. They are a bit battered, but that is not surprising as they are all over 100 years old.
Four Ecclesiastical Biographies by the late Rev. J H Gurney is concerned with Hildbrand, Bernard, Innocent III and Wiclif [Wycliff] and based on a foreword was published in 1864.
The next book has lost its title page , however by using the clue on the last page – the names of the publishers – Gilbert and Rivington of St John’s Square, London- and a further explanatory page after a very long preface it has proved, thanks to Library Hub Discover, to be Last hours of Christian men : or, An account of the deaths of some eminent members of the Church of England ; from the period of the reformation to the beginning of the present century by the Rev. Henry Clissold, dated to about 1881.[i]
Three Martyrs of the Nineteenth Century by Mrs Rundle Charles is about the lives of David Livingstone (Africa), Charles George Gordon (China and Egypt) and John Coleridge Patteson (Melanesia) and was published in 1891.
The Parish Church; The Simple Explanation of Church Symbolism by Thomas Parry Gardiner, is suggested by the Hathitrust to have been published about 1876.[ii]
What do these first four books have in common? They were all published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK). It was founded in 1868 and is the oldest Anglican Mission organization in the world. It continues to publish religious material today from a wide range of denominations.[iii]
There are clues in Bishop Harper’s Outward Letters that if a Parish raised money for a library, the SPCK would provide a similar amount in books as a grant.
The Juvenile Missionary Magazine Volume III 1846, January to December was the fifth book in the collection. It was published by the London Missionary Society from 1844 to 1854.[iv]
What do these five book have in common? They were all part of the Prebbleton Parochial Library instituted in 1865 when James Wilson was farming at “Broomfield” and was also the Incumbent of Templeton and Prebbleton.
Based on other notations on the front covers and fly leaves the library consisted of at least 199 books and they were transferred to a library held at St Saviour’s Templeton on an unknown date.
[iii] See The Story of the SPCK. nd By 1898 the firm was able to indicate that since 1820 they had sent overseas grants for cathedrals, parishes, schools, bursaries, studentships and general church purposes the sum of £651,894