The Bromhead Library comprises about 4,000 items, mainly published from the seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries, the primary subject is the history of London.
While the City of London features especially strongly, all of London is included, with topics covering culture, economy, politics, society and topography. Books range from studies of single buildings to works on particular suburbs and more broadly on Greater London. Guidebooks and other descriptions of London and its environs are common. Other forms range from scholarly and popular monographs to broadsides, directories, pamphlets, newsbooks, proclamations, and about 200 prints and maps. There are about fifteen manuscripts, the most spectacular of which is a contemporary roll depicting the funeral procession of Anne of Cleves in 1557.
The seventeenth century is particularly well represented with around 1,250 items, including material on Lord Mayors’ pageants and a remarkable number of Civil War pamphlets, as well as items published in the immediate wake of the Gunpowder Plot, the Great Plague of 1665, and the Great Fire of London of 1666. Some early-nineteenth-century imprints, such as those published by Rudolph Ackermann, are beautifully illustrated. From the eighteenth century onwards some fiction is present, notably George Reynolds’s sensational Mysteries of the Court of London. The collection also covers the early settlement of Australia.
The material was collected by Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Claude Bromhead(Opens in new window) (1876-1963), a co-founder of Gaumont Cinemas. The executors of his estate donated it to the University of London in 1964.
Items from the collection
The resolution of the women of London to the Parliament" (1649)
Arthur Phillip, The Voyage of Governor Phillip to Botany Bay, 2nd edition (1790)
William Kidd, Kidd’s London Directory, on a Novel Plan
Access to the collection
For an overview of the library, do a mixed classmark search (Opens in new window) on [B.L.]. Results will appear in date order up to 1800 and in alphabetical order of author’s surname after that. You can also do an author search on “Bromhead, A. C.” as former owner Material published after 1800 is held off-site and requires 48 hours (excluding weekends) to be fetched.
- Minutes of the Library Committee for 1964 (description of the collection; UL/1/1/11)
- MS817: a mixture of items created by Bromhead and manuscripts from his collection.
- London transport in the Goldsmiths’ Library of Economic Literature, [G.L.] I.1
- London history in the research collections
Entry 13 in Senate House Library, University of London, ed. by Christopher Pressler and Karen Attar (London: Scala, 2012)