The Stationers’ Company opens new archive facility

Laura Rutkowski

The Stationers’ Company has opened a new archive room and reading room.

This represents a milestone in improving access to its unique and priceless archive, both for members of the Company and the general public. Thanks to the generosity of Liverymen Duncan Spence and Amy McKee, as well as additional funds from the Company, there is now a new facility for everyone to use, including an archive room and a reading room. 

The whole complex is called the Tokefield Centre in commemoration of the then Clerk, George Tokefield, who in 1666 transported the Company’s records in a wheelbarrow beyond the reach of the Great Fire of London to preserve them.

Liveryman Sarah Mahurter, Manager of the University Archives and Special Collections Centre at University of the Arts London, managed the project. The successful planning application was supported by Historic England. Mahurter relocated the historic archive from an inaccessible upstairs room to the oldest book warehouse building in London, which forms one end of the Company’s garden. 

The archive room has been built within a climate-controlled environment and the reading room is able to accommodate everyone’s needs.

Ruth Frendo, the Stationers’ Company archivist, commented: “The Stationers’ Archive is already known as a key resource to historians of the book trade. However, it also holds a wealth of records and their potential is yet to be explored. As custodians of the records we have inherited through the care and dedication of our forebears, we have a serious responsibility to maintain these documents for future exploration.

Through the development of this purpose-built storage facility and a reading room that will provide unprecedented access to its Archive, the Stationers’ Company is demonstrating that it is whole-heartedly embracing this responsibility.”

William Alden, Clerk to the Company, added: “Widening access to Stationers’ Hall for educational purposes is a critical objective of the Stationers’ Company. The opening of the Tokefield Centre marks the completion of the first phase of a broader Hall development programme, which we hope to complete by 2023. This marks the 350th anniversary of the Hall being built.” 

The official opening took place on November 10. 

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