It appears that one of the pastor of the French Church
(…) left the whole of his books at his death
to the Pastor, Elder and Deacons for their use.
This was the beginning of the present Library.

©EPFL – MS 284 – March 1888

COLLECTIONS

The collection contains more than 300 volumes of archives the oldest of them dating from 1560. They mainly concern the church of Threadneedle Street and the churches or chapels that were incorporated to it. It does not include the archives of the French Hospital or other Huguenot churches which are part of the Huguenot Society‘s holdings. The registers of baptisms and marriages were transferred to the National Archives.

The collection of the French Protestant Church in London is also made up of some 1,400 books, the majority of which dates back to the 17th and 18th centuries.

©FCPL, MS 1, Consistory minutes 1560-1565
  • The archives

The church’s archives date back to its very early years. The oldest surviving record of the church is the volume of Actes du Consistoire, 1560-1565, the volumes covering the period 1550-1559 having been lost during Mary Tudor’s reign and her attempt to restore Roman Catholicism. Dating mostly from the 18th century, nearly sixty volumes predate 1700.

The archives include account books, records of poor relief (among these the fund collected in 1681 by the Lord Mayor and the Bishop of London for poor Huguenots), lists of members and pew-holders, list of fines incurred by ministers and elders, indentures of apprentices and the Livre des Témoignages which are registers of members admitted to the church. The archives also include the Approbations Royales: signed letters from the reigning monarch giving consent to the appointment of new pastors and documents concerning the governance of the Threadneedle Street church and the incorporated churches (royal charters for the opening of new temples, discipline of churches, minutes of synods and consistory minutes).

A detailed list of archives was published in 1972 by the Huguenot Society:
R.Smith, The Archives of the Protestant Church of London: A Handlist, Huguenot Society of London Quarto Series, (1972) vol. 50.

©FCPL, Olivetan Bible, 1535
  • The printed books

The collection comprises some 1,400 volumes, a few hundred of them printed before the 17th century.

Among them are prominently the great sacred Christian texts in ancient or modern languages, works of study or commentary by the fathers of the Church and of course an extensive collection of reformed texts (Bibles, psalters and works by Erasmus, Calvin or John Foxe).

Many of these works come from the most famous printing presses of their time, such as Froben in Zurich or the Estienne family in Paris.

Reflecting the crucial importance given to the printed word in the Reformation, the library grew steadily through purchases by the consistory, thanks to very generous gifts of money from elders.

More importantly were the gifts of bequests from private libraries and this helps to account for the very odd variety of books.  For example, doctor Benjamin Bosanquet, whose father David fled the persecutions in Languedoc, gave almost all his books to the French church, bringing into its collections a number of scientific treatises.

The library contains indeed not only religious books but also books on mathematics, medicine, gardening, historical publications or poems, satires etc. Many of them are intimately linked to the Huguenot history itself as with the Marot and Beza Plaster that was used during the secret Protestant assemblies (au Désert) after the interdiction of any public celebration in France.

OPENING

©FPCL, MS 18, illuminated initial by Abraham Maillet

The library is not open to general admission.

However, we are happy to arrange its opening and the consultation of our archives exclusively by appointment for researchers or people with a proven and documented interest in Huguenot history and heritage.

Being exclusively run by volunteers, we apologize for any delays in processing your requests.

Practical details:

For any consultation, please send us an email at least two weeks in advance.

You can download our reader registration form and library policy 

RESOURCES AND CATALOGUES

©EPFL, Biblia Sacra, 1486

The collection catalogue is currently not available in digital form, but we are working on it!

For the archives, a detailed list was published in 1972 by the Huguenot Society:

R:Smith, The Archives of the Protestant Church of London: A Handlist, Huguenot Society of London Quarto Series, (1972) vol. 50.

Practical details:

The catalogue of early printed books is currently only available on-site.

For any consultation request, please send us an email at least two weeks in advance