Public Records Office, Chancery Lane


Above: Looking from the eastern end near Fetter Lane at the library today with its elegant tower.

When you have known a building all your life by a particular name, there is always the danger that you continue to use that name even though it is has been changed and the building has been put to a completely different use. This is the case with a particularly large and grand building standing on the eastern side of Chancery Lane which was originally erected as the Public Records Office.

It was constructed in stages between 1851 and 1896 to designs by Sir James Pennethorne. It employed an imposing and non-ecclesiastical gothic style and required the demolition of both Rolls House and the 13th century Rolls Chapel. This was the next significant gothic revival building erected after the construction of the Houses of Parliament.

In 1907 it became the museum of the Public Record Office and continued to have a small museum until at least the 1970s. Throughout the latter half of the 20th century records gradually moved to a new site located in Kew. Until its relocation in 1997, the site had provided the home for previously scattered public papers and government records which dated back to the Norman Conquest. In 2003 it was merged with the Historical Manuscripts Commission to form The National Archives and all public records are now at Kew, in West London.

In 2001 the grand building in Chancery Lane underwent renovation and was internally converted for use as the Maughan Library, the largest academic library of King’s College London. It acts as the main library and information centre for the college. The monuments from the medieval Rolls Chapel were retained, and the Renaissance monument by Pietro Torrigiani (c1517) to commemorate Dr Yonge, Master of The Rolls during the reign of Henry VIII, is of particular note.

It is the largest new university library in the United Kingdom since World War II. It is named in honour of Sir Deryck Maughan, an alumnus of the university.


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1 Response to Public Records Office, Chancery Lane

  1. simonjkyte says:

    kew does function v well though


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