London Just Inherited This Amazing Dick Whittington Collection

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 88 months ago

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London Just Inherited This Amazing Dick Whittington Collection
One of the rarest items - an old chapbook, now worth thousands

Once Upon a Time — as in really quite recently — the Guildhall Library was "astonished" to find it had been bequeathed one of the the world's biggest collections of Dick Whittington memorabilia.

The cache of over 300 books, toys, puzzles, theatre programmes and lantern slides — themed around the man who was Lord Mayor of London four times — was betrothed to the Guildhall by Ellery Yale Wood, the prolific children's book collector.

Wood had been collecting the items for decades, storing them in her home in Wisbech, Lincolnshire, which had a warehouse attached to house her staggering collection of children's books.

Says Dr Peter Ross, the Guildhall's principal librarian: "We had no idea the collection was coming our way until we received a letter from a solicitor and then a few months later seven boxes containing the incredible collection."  

Some of the rarest items are the 18th and 19th century chapbooks, including one tiny 6cm x 6cm hand coloured miniature book which is probably unique. Wood paid nearly £2,000 for it.

The gift is particularly fitting because the Guildhall was founded in 1425 with money left by Richard Whittington himself.

When can the public get to see all this? The Guildhall Library is already drawing up plans for an exhibition celebrating Dick Whittington and the founding of the original Guildhall Library.

Last Updated 22 July 2016