Layton's Library: A Curious Collection

An exhibition of books from Thomas Layton's library at Hogarth's House

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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 Brentford antiquarian Thomas Layton. These are amongst the oldest volumes from his remarkable collection and this is an exciting opportunity to see them for the first time.

Hogarth House

Supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the exhibition has been curated by a team of dedicated local volunteers. The project team has selected books for display from around 8,000 volumes! 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, from 22 January admission free. Visitors are welcome from Tuesday to Sunday, between the hours of 12 noon to 5pm, until 3 April. From 30 April 2016, some of the exhibition will be on show at Boston Manor House in Brentford, where a range of workshops for adults and children are planned during the summer months.

Thomas Layton (born in 1819, died 1911) lived for the majority of his life on Kew Bridge Road in Brentford, West London. He was a lighterman, a coal merchant, a churchwarden, a member of the Burial Board and a Poor Law Guardian but, above all, he was a “collector”. During the course of his life he built up an enormous and intriguing collection of ‘every conceivable thing that can be found in an antique store’, including maps, prints, spears, swords, tokens, medals and coins, but his plans to endow a museum and library in Brentford ran into difficulties. Many of his antiquities are on public display in the Museum of London.

However, by far the largest element of his collection – his extraordinary collection of books – has remained relatively unknown and little used. The web site has brought many of the elements together as a “virtual museum”.

January 28, 2016

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