Kedermister Library in Langley, Berkshire, is a fine example of a parochial library and features as our Library of the Month for April. Thanks to Katie Flanagan, Curator, for the contribution. The photographs are copyright of the Trustees of Kedermister Library.
Tucked away inside the church of St Mary the Virgin in Langley Marish (on the outskirts of Slough) is an extremely important example of an early parochial library. Sir John Kedermister was granted a faculty in 1613 to build a room to house his library, and left a library of books for the benefit of the vicars of the church. The books remain in this same room to this day. There is also a vellum catalogue, dating from 1638 (Sir John died in 1631) still in the room, so we know which books were in the library then.
The Kedermister (or Kederminster) family had come to the area in the 16th century as Keepers of Langley Park. They had carried out much work in the area, such as draining and replanting the park and rebuilding the lodge. Sir John paid for a lot of work on the church, including replacing the tower, giving a pulpit and erecting four almshouses by the churchyard. In 1613 he was granted a faculty to add a south aisle to the church, changing the location of the door to the church and creating a family pew, to which direct access could be gained from outside, and a family vault below the pew.
It appears that the library he established in the church was not originally for private family use, or indeed his own library. It does not include a wide range of subjects (being almost entirely theological), and the likelihood is is that the books were purchased specifically for the library in the church. Many of the books have the Kedermister arms on the boards and only a few contain any indication of previous ownership. Virtually all of the books are printed, the exceptions being the Kedermister Gospels (an 11th century manuscript now on deposit at the British Library) and the Pharmacopolium, a family prescription book belong to Sir John and his wife, Dame Mary.
In 2014 the library will be open between 2.30 and 5pm on 4th May, 1st June, 6th July, 3rd August and 7th September. It is open at other times by prior arrangement with the Hon. Curator, Katie Flanagan. The church is a 10-15 minute walk from Langley station, which is on the London Paddington/Slough line.