Catholic National Library Papers
About the creator


Reference code: GB-0033-CSU-D12
Title: Catholic National Library Papers
Dates of creation: 1904-2015
Extent: 26 boxes
Held by: Durham University Library, Archives and Special Collections
Origination: Catholic National Library
Language: English

About the creator

Until its closure in June 2014, the Catholic National Library was a major theological and historical reference and lending library containing over 70,000 books, periodicals and pamphlets. It was founded in 1912 from the private library collection of an American philanthropist, William Reed-Lewis, whose aim was to educate the Catholic laity. Originally located in the porch of the Catholic Church in Bexhill-on-Sea, it moved to Victoria, London, in 1922, and was then established as the Catholic Central Library in 1936. In July 1959, the Friars of the Atonement took over the management of the Library. In 1997, its premises were sold off and the library was threatened with closure. Plans were in place to split the collection between Allen Hall and Heythrop before a concerted fundraising campaign led by Catholic noblemen including Lord Longford and Lord Alton, novelists including Alice Thomas Ellis and Piers Paul Read, as well as Cardinal Basil Hume, ensured its survival, with the collection moving to Lancing Street, London, to be run by a newly-created Board of Trustees. The Trust received significant financial support from the Diocese of Westminster, the late Sir John Paul Getty, the Theodore Trust, and the Diana Forty Memorial Trust, as well as other charitable institutions and private individuals, and was staffed by one paid librarian and numerous volunteers. In 2007, the organisation changed its name to the Catholic National Library, moving to St Michael's Abbey, Farnborough. Owing to financial pressure, the Library closed in June 2014 and its collection was transferred to Durham University Library in the following year.


The archives of the Catholic National Library mostly cover the period following the establishment of the Library's Board of Trustees in 1997, with very little surviving before this date. It encompasses the papers of the Trustees, including minutes of meetings, administrative papers, correspondence, and secretary's papers, as well as papers documenting the various moves of library premises until the library's eventual transfer to Durham University Library in 2015; financial papers, including statements of accounts, receipts and invoices, bank statements, and associated correspondence; papers relating to the operational management of the library, including minutes of the meetings of the Management Advisory Committee, IT and staffing matters, management of reader services including research enquiries, visitor books and appointments diaries, and papers relating to the management of the St. Cecilia’s Guild for the Blind collection; membership records; publicity and fundraising, including the papers of various fundraising initiatives and newspaper cuttings publicising the library; historical material collected for a history of the library; printed publications, mostly on Sir Thomas More; and framed objects, including photographs, portraits and maps probably used as decoration in the reading room. The archive also includes the papers of Patricia van der Valk (neé Haskew) who corresponded regularly with the Holy See and whose archive includes memorabilia from the visit of Pope John Paul II to Britain in 1982.

Accession details

Donated by Anthony Tyler on 2 October 2015, with further additions on 9 April 2016.

Previous custodial history

Prior to the closure of the Catholic National Library, the archive was stored at Farnborough Abbey.

Conditions of access

Open for consultation with the exception of certain files which have been closed to comply with the Data Protection Act (1998)

Copyright and copying

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. The Library will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material


The arrangement is, for the most part, hierarchical although some series are chronological:
1. Trustees’ Papers
2. Financial Papers
3. Library Management Papers
4. Membership Records
5. Publicity and Fundraising Papers
6. Historical Material
7. Publications
8. Objects
9. Papers of Patricia van der Valk


The collection has been appraised. Information which is duplicated in other records, and clean duplicates, have generally been removed


No further accruals expected


Skinner, Gerard, A Centennial History of the Catholic National Library (1912-2002) (Fisher Press, 2013)


1. Trustees’ Papers
D12/A1   14 July 1997 - 29 April 2016
Minutes of Trustee meetings with associated papers:
File 1: 14 July 1997 - 26 June 2003
File 2: 30 March 2004 - 19 November 2009
File 3: 22 January 2010 - 14 December 2012
File 4: 17 January 2013 - 29 April 2016
4 files 
D12/A2   18 September 1997 - 13 March 2013
Papers of the Charity Commission’s relationship with the library, including correspondence and photocopies of completed Annual Return forms
1 file 
D12/A3   12 June 1997 - 2016
Administrative papers, mostly correspondence on the legal agreement of the library for the leasing of the ground floor of St Pancras Church House for the library, as well as the appointment of trustees to the Board
1 file 
D12/A4   3 September 1997 - 27 October 2004
Papers of Anthony Tyler, secretary of the Trustees, arranged in six files (labelled I-VI); mostly day correspondence relating to the library described elsewhere, with the exception of file I which concerns arrangements for organising “Towards Advent: A Festival of Catholic Culture”
File I: 19 September 2000 - 6 December 2002
File II: 3 September 1997 - 11 October 1999
File III: January 1998 - January 2001
File IV: 10 July 1998 - 14 August 2003
File V: 13 December 2001 - 27 October 2003
File VI: 26 June 2000 - 27 October 2004
6 files 
D12/A5   20 June - 1 August 1997
Trustee correspondence on discussions relating to a new body to run the Catholic Central Library
1 file 
D12/A6   20 May - 30 June 1997
Letters to Brother Gerard Francis Hand on the closure of the Catholic Central Library
1 file 
D12/A7   9 July 1997 - 12 November 2012
Papers relating to various proposed and actual transfers of the Library premises, including correspondence between the Post Office and the Catholic Central Library on the move of the library premises from Francis Street, Westminster, to St Pancras Anglican Church, the possible transfer of the library to Nazareth House, and transfer to Farnborough Abbey. Also includes a file of plans and correspondence with Peter Hoare Ltd concerning the new premises at St Pancras
2 files 
D12/A8   2012
Report by Riley Consulting entitled ‘Feasibility appraisal presented to Civic Asset Partners, Herald House, 15 Lamb’s Passage’
1 report 
D12/A9   14 May 2003 - 20 April 2007
Papers relating to the possible creation of a Catholic Cultural Centre and the establishment of the Thomas More Institute in London
1 file 
D12/A10   25 February 2010 - 31 March 2015
Correspondence between Durham University, Buckfast Abbey and the Catholic National Library on the transfer of the library to Durham University
1 file 
2. Financial Papers
D12/B1   1997 - 2014
Statements of accounts for the library:
File 1: 1997 - 2002
File 2: 2003 - 2006
File 3: 2007 - 2014, 2016
3 files 
D12/B2   18 September 1997 - 30 July 2014
Correspondence mostly between the library, Silver Levene and Howard Lee, Fellows and Co. (Chartered Accountants), and the HMRC, relating to the preparation of the library’s accounts and annual returns:
File 1: 18 September 1997 - 13 December 2006
File 2: 26 January 2007 - 30 November 2010
File 3: February 2011 - 23 May 2016
3 files 
D12/B3   2000/01 - 2011/12
Invoices and receipts from various companies and individuals retained for the compiling of the accounts:
File 1: 1997/98 - 2001/02
File 2: 2002/03
File 3: 2003/04
Files 4 - 5: 2004/05
Files 6 - 8: 2005/06
Files 9 - 11: 2006/07
Files 12 - 13: 2007/08
Files 14 - 15: 2008/09
Files 16 - 17: 2009/10
Files 18 - 19: 2010/11
Files 20 - 21: 2011/12
21 files 
D12/B4   2 August 1997 - 27 May 2005
Papers relating to the library bank accounts, including:
Volume 1: Bank of Butterfield account book, 24 August 1997 - 18 February 1998
File 1: correspondence with Adam & Company including photocopies of bank statements, 2 August 1997 - 27 May 2005
File 2: correspondence with Adam & Company, 17 December 2008 - April 2012
File 3: bank statements (Business Current Account), 29 August 2008 - September 2012
File 4: bank statements (Catholic National Library Foundation Appeal Account), 29 August 2008 - 10 December 2010
File 5: bank statements (Call Deposit/Business Reserve Account), 29 August 2008 - August 2012
5 files and 1 volume 
D12/B5   21 August 1997 - 23 July 2013
Correspondence between the library and D.E. Ford Insurance Brokers, Hiscox, Endsleigh, and Ansvar, concerning insurance matters
1 file 
3. Library Management Papers
D12/C1   28 September 1997 - July 2010
Papers of the Management Advisory Committee, mostly minutes of meetings with associated papers and correspondence
1 file 
D12/C2   9 October 1998 - 15 October 2009
Papers relating to IT matters, including correspondence with various companies on the creation of an online catalogue, the website and social media
1 file 
D12/C3   1997 - 26 November 2012
Papers relating to staffing matters in the library
1 file 
D12/C4   3 June 2007 - 21 October 2012
Letters to Joan Bond, librarian, mostly research enquiries
1 file 
D12/C5   October 1961 - January 1991; February 1991 - June 2007
Volumes entitled ‘Issues from the Lending Library and Postal Department’
2 volumes 
D12/C6   2007 - 2014
Appointments diaries for the reading room:
Volume 1: 2007
Volume 2: 2008
Volume 3: 2009
Volume 4: 2010
Volume 5: 2011
Volume 6: 2012
Volume 7: 2013
Volume 8: 2014
8 volumes 
D12/C7   27 May 1998 - 31 February 2014
Visitors book, including date, name and address
1 volume 
D12/C8   2 January - 22 December 1998
Suggestions book
1 volume 
D12/C9   9 August 1997 - 8 October 2009
Papers relating to the management by the Catholic Central Library/Catholic National Library of the library of St. Cecilia’s Guild for the Blind, including correspondence and account statements
1 file 
D12/C10   30 September - 27 November 2009
Library communications notebook for passing on messages between library staff
1 notebook 
4. Membership Records
D12/D1   1997-2001
Life and annual members roll books
2 volumes 
D12/D2   May 1997
Lists of paid members, including names and addresses
1 file 
D12/D3   21 July 1997 - November 2011
Correspondence between members and the library, mostly renewing/cancelling subscriptions
1 file 
D12/D4   30 July 2003 - 12 March 2007; 31 July 2007 - 16 January 2013
Volumes of receipts for subscription payments by members
2 volumes 
5. Publicity and Fundraising Papers
D12/E1   13 June 1997 - 28 August 2014
Papers relating to fundraising initiatives organised by the library, mostly correspondence relating to various appeals, including the Millennium Foundation Appeal and the publication of a history of the library, as well as applications to funding bodies and individuals, and the organisation of events:
File 1: 13 June 1997 - 12 December 1998
File 2: 4 January 1999 - 24 November 2006
File 3: 16 January 2007 - 24 July 2011
File 4: 23 February 2012 - 28 August 2014
4 files 
D12/E2   5 June 1986 - 21 March 2013
Newspaper cuttings, mostly from Catholic publications, on the library
1 file 
D12/E3   13 October 2015 - January 2016
Cuttings from a variety of newspapers, including Catholic Times, Catholic Universe, Tablet, and Catholic Herald on the transfer of the Catholic National Library to Durham University
1 file 
D12/E4   [1912 - 2014]
Publicity leaflets
10 leaflets 
6. Historical Material
D12/F1   1908
Volume of cuttings from English newspapers, including the Daily News, the Daily Express, the Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph, and the Daily Graphic, on the 1908 International Eucharistic Congress
Property of H.S. Dunham, St. Therese, The Gardens, Watford
1 volume 
D12/F2   [mid-late 20th century]
Papers, mostly research articles and ephemera on Thomas More, probably collected in relation to the establishment of the Thomas More Institute in London Publications on Thomas More catalogued in the Durham University Library catalogue
4 files 
D12/F3   [late 20th century]
Papers relating to the history of the library, mostly photocopies of articles and press cuttings, probably collected together for the publication of Gerald Skinner’s A centennial history of the Catholic National Library, 1912-2012 (Fisher Press, 2012)
4 files 
7. Publications
Reference: D12/G
The printed publications in this collection can be found on the Durham University Library catalogue

8. Objects
Framed pictures/photographs and other objects, probably used for decoration in the reading room of the library:

D12/H1   [20th century]
Sketch of Bl. Thomas More
1 sketch in wooden frame
Size: 325 x 450 mm
D12/H2   [20th century]
Bl. Thomas More
1 colour print in glass frame
Size: 490 x 500 mm
D12/H3   [1904]
Painting of Bl. Thomas More
On back board, manuscript note on More signed “Londres 1904”
1 oil painting in decorated wooden frame with geometric pattern
Size: 305 x 380 mm
D12/H4   [?7 December 1926]
Cardinal Aidan Gasquet, with a facsimile of a letter from Gasquet to the Catholic Central Library
BW print in silver frame
Size: 325 x 410 mm
D12/H5   1939
Map of the Catholic provinces and dioceses of England and Wales (Printed by Burns, Oates & Washbourne Ltd with the Catholic Directory of 1939)
Colour print in silver frame
Size: 510 x 610 mm
D12/H6   [1960]
Portrait photograph of Cardinal Basil Hume.
Inscription “With every good wish to the members of the Catholic Central Library and the Friars of the Atonement. Basil. Card. Hume”
BW print in wooden frame
Size: 375 x 470 mm
D12/H7   [?1960]
Reading room of the Catholic Central Library
BW print on wood
Size: 510 x 400 mm
D12/H8   [?1965]
Pope Paul VI [?at the Second Vatican Council]
BW print in wooden frame
Size: 320 x 250 mm
D12/H9   1977
Marie Ney, the actress, reading from the works of Thomas More during Mass in Angers Cathedral
BW print in wooden frame
Size: 240 x 320 mm
D12/H10   20 December 1988
Photograph of the HRH the Duchess of Kent unveiling a plaque in recognition of the work of the bishop of Leeds, Rt Rev Mgr W. Gordon Wheeler.
Presented to the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement
Colour print (faded) in silver frame
Size: 370 x 300 mm
D12/H11   20 December 1988
Plaque unveiled by HRH the Duchess of Kent in recognition of the services given by the bishop of Leeds, Rt Rev Mgr W. Gordon Wheeler.
Presented to the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement
Bronze plaque mounted on wooden board
Size: 300 x 450 mm
D12/H12   1997
Cardinal Basil Hume
Colour print in silver frame
Size: 405 x 510 mm
D12/H13   [?2000]
St. Mary Magdalene’s Church, Bexhill-on-Sea and 17-18 Endwell Road, Bexhill-on-Sea.
Used for a display on the history of the Library
2 colour prints in glass frame
Size: 300 x 400 mm
9. Papers of Patricia van der Valk
D12/J1   5 January 1980 - 4 March 2005
Correspondence between the Holy See and Simon and Patricia van der Valk (née Haskew), mostly letters to Patricia thanking her for her gifts and messages to Pope John Paul II:
File 1: 5 January 1980 - 31 December 1987
File 2: [3 April] 1988 - 22 October 1993
File 3: 5 February 1994 - 16 November 1999
File 4: 21 February 2000 - 4 March 2005
4 files 
D12/J2   1980
Cuttings from calendars and magazines of photographs of Pope John Paul II
1 file 
D12/J3   1982
Memorabilia from Pope John Paul II’s visit to Britain, including badges, flags, medals, a rosette, a mug and tickets
1 box