Plume Building


In the seventeenth century, on the site of the parish Church of St Peter, Dr Thomas Plume started the Plume Library to house over 8,000 books and pamphlets printed between 1487 and his death in 1704; the collection has been added to at various times since 1704.

Although Thomas Plume spent most of his life in the Church, he was aware of intellectual changes taking place in other academic fields. He collected books which show his interests in other subjects: chemistry, astronomy,medicine, history and travel. Among this collection the following can be found:

  • John Speed's atlas of 1631
  • Sir Francis Drake's The World Encompassed, 1628
  • Robert Boyle's The Sceptical Chymist, 1680

Thomas Plume left his collection of over 8,000 books and pamphlets, printed between 1487 and his death, to the town of Maldon. It was kept in St. Peter's Church, of which only the original Tower survives; the rest of the building was rebuilt by Plume to house his library. The library was to be "for the use of the minister and clergy of the neighbouring parishes who generally make this town their place of residence on account of the unwholesomeness of the air in the vicinity of their churches". Plume left specific instruction for the use of the library: "any Gentleman or Scholar who desires, may go into it, and make use of any book there or borrow it, in case he leaves a vadimonium with the Keeper for the restoring thereof fair and uncorrupted within a short time". Plume's library continues to grow after his death with contributions from others. An online catalogue of Plume's collection was completed in 2009 and can be consulted via the Library's website.

The church building, which is owned by Maldon Town Council, still stands, as it originally was, and still houses his books, kept on their original shelves, as well as his small collection of paintings. Although they may no longer be borrowed, books from the Library may be consulted without appointment during normal opening hours , and the catalogue may be consulted online.

The ongoing upkeep is supported by the Friends of Thomas Plume’s Library and more information about becoming a member or making a donation can be found on their website at http://www.thomasplumeslibrary.co.uk

Visitor details:

Address: Thomas Plume’s Library, Market Hill, Maldon, CM9 4PZ

Telephone: 01621 854850

Email: info@thomasplumeslibrary.co.uk

Directions: Junction of Market Hill and the High Street

Access: Restricted, via steep and narrow spiral stairs; maximum capacity of 10 people at a time. Prior notification may be required to view certain items.

Registered Charity Number 310661

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