Leighton Library Trust Charity

Leighton Library Restoration Project

The building is as important as the books - it was built to house them in 1687 and it now needs repair.
raised of £495,000 target
by 21 supporters
RCN SC003010

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The Leighton Library is a Category A listed building, purpose-built in 1687 to house the book collection of Bishop Leighton, former Principal of Edinburgh University, Bishop of Dunblane and Archbishop of Glasgow (1611-1684). The oldest volume dates from 1504 and the collection is of international importance. The building and collection are owned by the Leighton Library Trust, a registered Scottish charity (SC003010).

Purportedly home to St. Blane, an early Celtic missionary in the 8th century, Dunblane was an important ecclesiastical centre from the 12th century to the Reformation. The Library is on The Cross, site of the burgh's market place, at the heart of the town, close to Dunblane Cathedral and Dunblane Museum.

The Library is one of a very small number of surviving independent libraries in Scotland which still holds its books in their original cabinets. The collection was added to in the 18th and 19th centuries and includes a number of historically important volumes. It retains original fixtures such as six 17th century book presses and six Charles II chairs. The collection now contains 4500 books in 90 languages printed between 1500 and 1840. Visitors can browse through some of the country's rarest books including a first edition of Sir Walter Scott's Lady of the Lake, Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations and Thomas Paine's Rights of Man.

The building exhibits rare architectural detail typical of 17th century construction. The facade is distinguished by a fine example of a 17th century marble cartouche thought to have been carved by a London workshop and ordered by William Drummond of Cromlix, first Viscount Strathallan, whose townhouse stood opposite the Library.

The restoration

The fabric of the building is currently suffering as a result of defective past building works and inappropriate cement render. There is now an urgent need to carry out various restorative and remedial works: Removing the cement based harling and replacing with breathable lime harl; Specialist conservation repair of the marble cartouche; Repairing the roof, leadwork and rain water system; Repairing the stone work, windows and doors; Reinstating the crow steps on the south gable; Repairing structural defects to the north gable; Ensuring suitable internal environmental conditions within the Library space.

The Trust also plans to adapt the ground floor 'Undercroft' (a vaulted space originally used as the Librarian's living quarters) into a unique and engaging space which can be used for community activities such as exhibitions, meetings and other promotional events.

The impact

The Library building and its contents are of significant historical importance. Successful completion of the works will ensure both the building and its contents are safeguarded for future generations and will ensure the building contributes to the historic environment around The Cross.

About the charity

The Leighton Library, the oldest purpose-built library in Scotland, was founded on the collection of Robert Leighton, Bishop of Dunblane 1661-1670, later Archbishop of Glasgow, 1670-1674. The library houses around 4,500 volumes with a Book of Psalms dating from 1504 the oldest book in the library.

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+ £328.75 Gift Aid
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