Photo credit: Morguefile/Darren Hester
A new exhibition of Royal and other rare documents opened today, May 17, at Lambeth Palace in London. The exhibition gives the public a rare opportunity to see never-revealed documents about George III's mental health, glimpses into the politics of Elizabethan times, and more. It runs until July 23 and marks the 400th anniversary of the Lambeth Palace Library.
Visitors can see an 1811 doctor's report about the health of the notoriously insane King George III, including remarks that he was "turbulent" and needed restraints. A 1609 religious tract from a Puritan bears the comment from James I that too great toleration of you in Queen's Elizabeth's time hath made you now to be prickles in our side."
Queen Elizabeth I also noted her recovery from smallpox in a letter, and the second death warrant for Mary, Queen of Scots is on show. Apparently having second thoughts, Elizabeth I had torn up the first one but this warrant was the one that had the deed done.
Collected by a variety of Archibishops, the exhibit spans a wide range of history both personal and political. Included is the shell of Archbishop Laud's pet tortoise, which outlived him by a century until it was disturbed during hibernation and died from frost. There are also several religious documents, including a 12th century Lambeth Bible and the first printed book to reach Britain, dating to 1467.
More recent documents include a World War II letter from George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, speaking out against the bombing of German cities. He receive support for his unpopular view from Edith Bartlett, mother of an RAF bomber killed during training: She said that had he known that he would otherwise have been deployed to kill civilians, he would have wanted nothing to do with it.
According to librarian Giles Mandelbrote, the exhibition is a first for Lambeth Palace and, since the palace is off the main tourist track in London, is experimental. More details can be found here.