Layton’s Library: A Curious Collection, 22 January – 3 April 2016

The exhibition Layton’s Library: A Curious Collection will display some of the most beautiful and unusual examples of 17th and 18th century books once owned by Thomas Layton. This is an exciting opportunity to see for the first time some of the oldest volumes from his remarkable collection.

Supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the exhibition has been curated by a team of dedicated local volunteers. They have read, researched and selected 17th and 18th century books from around 8,000 volumes, with the aim of reflecting the diversity of the collection. The exhibits range from from Anatomy to Literary Letters, Martyrs to Zoology.

Imagine the experience of Fred Turner, Brentford’s first public librarian, who had to sort, select and move 8,000 out of Layton’s 22,000 books to Brentford Library. What might you have chosen from Layton’s substantial collection? And consider why such a collection is not better known and ask whether books as objects in their own right still of value to 21st century readers. Visitors will be intrigued by these early books, their various subjects, their bindings and their illustrations. They will also learn about Layton and his passion for collecting and the Trust hopes the exhibition will raise awareness of the collection and share it with a new audience.

The exhibition will be on show at Hogarth’s House, Chiswick, admission free. Visitors are welcome from Tuesday to Sunday, between the hours of 12 noon to 5pm, until 3 April. From 4 June to 30 October 2016 some of the exhibition will be on show at Boston Manor House in Brentford, where we are planning a range of workshops for adults and children during the summer months.

Some of Layton’s gardening books were shown in another exhibition at Hogarth’s House in 2015 – details here