Lindley Library

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The Lindley Library is the largest horticultural library in the world.[1]

The main part of the library is based at 80 Vincent Square, London, within the headquarters of its custodian, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS); the site also includes Lindley Hall, one of the Royal Horticultural Halls. The library also has reading rooms at the RHS' four gardens at Wisley, Harlow Carr, Hyde Hall and Rosemoor. RHS members may borrow books from the London collection.[2]

The Upper Reading Room is open to the public, and holds the 20th-century material available for loans, along with gardening magazines from around the world. Visitors must register if they wish to use the Lower Reading Room which houses historical collections.[1]

In 1995 the RHS proposed to relocate the main collection from London to Wisley, but architect Rick Mather redesigned the accommodation to make better use of the basement.[3] His design was accepted and the project was carried out between 1997 and 2001.[4][5] The Heritage Lottery Fund assisted the renovation with a grant, one condition of which was that the library should be opened up to public access.[2]

The library is based upon the book collection of English botanist John Lindley, and has many rare books dating from 1514.[6] It also includes other media such as garden guidebooks, trade catalogues, postcards and press cuttings. As well as horticulture, the collection covers flora, birds and other related subjects. The London site also includes the RHS' collection of paintings and photographs.[2] In 2009 the Library started issuing a series of papers (Occasional Papers).[7]

The London collection suffered minor damage in a fire in July 2011. No valuable works were lost.[6]


The first librarian was W. T. Thiselton-Dyer (1871–1875), later Director at Kew, followed by W. B. Hemsley (1875–1878). Amongst other notable librarians was William Thomas Stearn (1933–1952), who succeeded H. R. Hutchinson. More recently were Peter Stageman (1957) and Dr Brent Elliott who was librarian (1982–2007), and subsequently the RHS historian. He initiated and edited the Occasional Papers.[8][9]


  1. ^ a b Fowler, Alys (19 December 2010). "London's best-kept secret: the Lindley Library?". Gardening Blog. BBC. Retrieved 7 October 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c Visit to the Lindley Library by CILIP, 2009. Retrieved 2011-10-07.
  3. ^ Glancey, Jonathan (19 June 1995). "A sweet campaign blossoms". Independent. Retrieved 7 October 2011. 
  4. ^ "Royal Horticultural Society". Rick Mather Architects. Retrieved 7 October 2011. 
  5. ^ Owen, Jane (28 October 2002). "Lindley Library given more space to grow". The Times. Retrieved 7 October 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Fire hits RHS Lindley Library, Horticulture Week, 2 August 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-07.
  7. ^ RHS 2017.
  8. ^ Gresham 2013.
  9. ^ Elliott 2009.


  • Lucas, A. M. (April 2008). "Disposing of John Lindley's library and herbarium: the offer to Australia". Archives of natural history. 35 (1): 15–70. doi:10.3366/E0260954108000053. 
  • "Dr Brent Elliott". Gresham College. 2013. Retrieved 5 January 2017. 
  • Elliott, Brent (December 2009). "The cultural heritage collections of the RHS Lindley Library". Occasional Papers from the RHS Lindley Library. 1. 
  • RHS (2017). "Lindley Library Online". RHS. Retrieved 5 January 2017. 
  • HR Hutchinson (1927). The Lindley Library: Catalogue of Books, Pamphlets, Manuscripts and Drawings. RHS

External links

  • Lindley Library, RHS official website


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