Treasures of the Library & Archive

The Library as a physical collection of books dates from the earliest foundation of Radley in 1847: indeed, many of those original books still survive in the modern collection. The Archives could be said to date from the same time, since what have now become the greatest treasures of the Archives, are the foundation documents, the diaries, statutes, inventories and letters of the 1840s and 1850s, which were the day-to-day working matter of the school.

Both the Library and Archive actively collect material to enhance the collections and to fill in gaps. Over the last year the Library has acquired the only known copy of The Radley psalter, 1847, and has acquired a complete collection of the works of Harold Monro, founder of the Poetry Bookshop. As well as collecting all ephemera, such as concert and theatre programmes, the Archives receives regular gifts from the Video Unit. Between 2004 and 2006, the Archives also received three major sets of papers: the letters, notes and photographs of C.P.T. Wrinch, deposited by his daughter Charlotte Roueche; from Jim Hare, formerly Head of Drama, the albums containing all his production notes, photographs and programmes; and papers and publications of Jonathan Griffin, deposited by his literary executor, Anthony Rudolf of the Menard Press. The Radleian Collection of works by and about Radley and Radleians continues to grow.

A Library and an Archive are both living units which carry the past to inform the future. There are several projects in hand or planned to bring the wealth of the collection to current Radleians and beyond. The War Memorial Online Database, an amalgamation of archival material, monuments, printed books and the internet, is now available on the intranet and via the school website. The manuscript antiphoner will be digitised so that all can see it, and the music transcribed for the choir at Radley. Recent discussions with the National Archives have highlighted how rich a collection Radley owns which has a much wider remit than just the school: for example, the log-books of the Natural History Society have both national and local significance being an exact and unbroken record since 1884; whilst Tony Money’s latest research into the influence of the ‘Radley idea’ upon the other public schools of the mid-nineteenth century demonstrates the wealth of material in the unpublished diaries of the earliest Wardens.