The Lamspringe Collection

Lamspringe Abbey was the only English Benedictine Congregation abbey of the former English Benedictines in exile.

It was located in Lamspringe in the diocese of Hildesheim, then in the Holy Roman Empire. In 1628 the exiled English monks asked the Bursfelde Congregation for a conventual building and, in 1630, were granted the derelict buildings at Lamspringe. They took up residence there in the early 1640s after the end of the Thirty Years’ War in 1638. The English Benedictines rebuilt the abbey, dedicated to SS Adrian and Denis, and from 1671 ran a school here for English Catholic boys, mostly from Yorkshire and the North. Unlike the other English monasteries in exile Lamspringe was a large abbey rather than a small priory, and was wealthy. The Community’s wealth and status were reflected in the quality of the building works undertaken.

The abbey church was begun in 1691 under Abbot Maurus Corker, and the remaining monastery buildings, executed in rather grand style by Abbot Joseph Rokeby up to 1731, still remain virtually intact. Lamspringe Abbey housed the relics of St Oliver Plunkett, taken there in 1684 by the later Abbot of Lamspringe Maurus Corker, who had been with him in prison in London as well as the head of St Thomas of Hereford. The Abbey was secularised in 1803 by the Kingdom of Prussia, and the monks returned to England.

The Lamspringe Library was one of the first collections to arrive at the ‘new’ Downside Priory. It contains many works of seventeenth and eighteenth century origin and forms one of the constituent key collections of the Rare Book Collection. These include John Smith’s True Travels and Adventures – an exploration of Virginia as well as John Florio’s Montaigne in English.

As with all our Rare Book collections, we do require references from either your academic supervisor, a member of the clergy, a magistrate, police officer or a civil servant. Our collections are of national and international importance and we reserve the right to refuse access to texts should we consider that damage or malpractice might occur.