Cranston Lecture

The annual Cranston Lecture is the main source of income to provide for the continual professional restoration of the books and the upkeep of the library. It is usually held towards the end of October in St Mary’s Church, Chart Lane, Reigate. There is a display of books, including those that have been recently repaired.

Recent lectures have included:

Giles Mandelbrote, A Tale of Two Libraries: Lambeth Palace and Sion College in the 17th century
Sean Hawkins: The Rev. John Newman Harrison (1815-1901): a Quest
Hilary Ely, “…a Guinea with which was bought …”: Subscribers to Andrew Cranston’s Reigate Publick Library
Dr Keith Manley, Bodies in the Library: the Family Library of Agatha Christie
Penelope Horsfall, William Penn, Quaker (1644-1718): a visitor to Surrey, especially Reigate
Michael Heneker, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers” – a Legal Romp
Christianna Thompson, The English Atlas of the Late Seventeenth Century
Dr Andrea Thomas, A Historical Calumny: George Buchanan’s ‘Detection of Mary Queen of Scots’
Dr Andrea Thomas, Martin Luther and the Reformation after 500 Years
Sean Hawkins, Thomas Martin and Reigate’s Second Public Library
Margaret Willes, John Evelyn’s Polyglot Bible
Hilary Ely, Gutenberg’s Revolution: manuscript to print on the shelves of the Cranston Library
Penelope Horsfall, John, Lord Somers (1650-1716): Our Number One Trustee of 1708. Lawyer, Politician, Statesman. Lord Chancellor 1697-1700
Nick Cowlishaw,  The Binding And Decoration Of Early Books
2020 – no lecture owing to the COVID-19 pandemic
2021 – Click here for recording.
Hilary Ely Early English Printing and the Cranston Collection
Dr Andrea Thomas Early Scottish Printing and the Cranston Collection

To see a full list of all previous Cranston Lectures please click here.

THE CRANSTON LECTURE 2022 takes place
on Monday 17th October 2022

The Lecture will also be streamed and recorded on

Sean Hawkins
The Knight Bible and the ‘Speckled Monster’
Andrea Thomas
Pandemics in History

The experience of Covid has clearly taught us that the impact of pandemic disease can be significant and far-reaching, but we are not the first people to grapple with such challenges. In 2021 the Library received from Mr Robert Knight the timely and significant gift of a Bible that contains intriguing evidence of a courageous response to contagion in 18th century Reigate.  Taking this as his starting point, Sean Hawkins’ lecture highlights some of the ways that people in the past dealt with Smallpox. Andrea Thomas’ paper seeks to place this discussion in a wider context across human history. How did different people at different times understand the workings of pandemics and seek to manage their effects? In what ways have diseases shaped our history and culture? This subject might be tricky for those of a squeamish disposition, but will hopefully provide a little insight into some fascinating aspects of medical history.

Refreshments will be served in the interval. There will be an exhibition of books from the library in the chancel, and the library will be open for viewing after the lecture.

SEAN HAWKINS is a retired bookseller, the Local History Secretary of the Holmesdale Natural History Club, and a long-time Trustee of the Cranston Library.

ANDREA THOMAS studied history at Somerville College, Oxford, and produced a doctoral thesis in Scottish history at the University of Edinburgh. She has worked as a schoolteacher and also maintains her research interests.  She is the author of Princelie Majestie: The Court of James V of Scotland, 1528-1542 (Edinburgh: John Donald, 2005) and Glory and Honour: The Renaissance in Scotland (Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2013). She has been a trustee of the CranstonLibrary since 2003.

If you would like to be included on our mailing or emailing list for the lectures, please contact:
Mrs Hilary Ely

Open Days

The Library opens to the public every year on a Saturday of the Heritage Open Days weekends in September.  It will be open on Saturday 17th September 2022 from 10am to 4pm.