12 Market Place
Faversham, Kent, ME13 7AE

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Doddington Library

Historic Collection

Historic Collection

Among the historic collections now housed at Faversham’s Town Council offices at 12 Market Place Faversham is the Doddington Parochial Library.

The library contains nearly 400 printed books, most dating from 1600s and 1700s but with the oldest printed in 1505. Around 280 of them were printed in England, the remainder on the continent. It is one of several notable Kent Parochial libraries formed as part of a wider movement in Britain and America around 1700 to provide books for the parish clergy.

Daniel Somerscales

Daniel Somerscales

The collection was formed in the early 1700s by Daniel Somerscales for use in his work as vicar of Doddington (near Faversham), to which were added some 30 books by John Radcliffe (or Ratcliffe), a Doddington vicar of the early 19th century. Somerscales’s original collection was housed in a series of wooden travelling cases, some of which have happily survived and are preserved as part of the present shelving of the library. The cases are important because they help explain the origins and intentions of the library, as well as preserving paper labels listing the original contents of at least one of the cases.

For the first 240 years of its life the library was stored in its cases in the vicarage at Doddington. It was perhaps actively used for 100 of those years, but evidently quite carefully. One of great virtues of the books today is that they survive, largely unrestored, in their original bindings from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. When the Doddington vicarage was sold in the 1980s, it was through the care and persistence of the Doddington Parochial Church Council, the Nightingale family, together with members of the Faversham Society that it came to be here in Faversham, housed initially in the Fleur de Lis Heritage centre. It was moved to its present location in 2021 where it is curated by a team of volunteers who are maintaining and updating the catalogue as well as researching the library’s formation and earlier provenances.

Downloadable Catalogue

Downloadable Catalogue

A catalogue will shortly be made available as a searchable Pdf on this page. The English books printed prior to 1800 have all been entered by Paul Moorbath into the ESTC database.

The books can be viewed by appointment and researchers should contact
doddingtonlibrary@favershamtowncouncil.gov.uk

Photographs courtesy of Lisa Valder and Faversham Life