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St James's and Whitehall Palace libraries

The first major acquisition for Charles II's library at St James's Palace were some 1,400 books, the complete library of the book-collector John Morris, who had died in 1659 (examples from this library are included here). The range of subjects acquired by Charles from Morris's collection demonstrates the king's interest in the sciences, literature and theatre. Charles II's library books were all uniformly bound by Samuel Mearne in a simple, elegant style with his ‘CR’ cipher tooled in each corner.

Charles II's library at Whitehall Palace included books presented to him as well as some that once were in his father's library. The Whitehall library books were bound in a great number of different styles by a variety of workshops and they all have a distinctive shelfmark through which they can be identified. The sumptuous decoration of books dedicated to Charles II reflects the prevailing fashions of the day and the revival of splendour after the restraint of the Interregnum.

The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Royal Collection Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.