Lancaster University

This is archived news from Lancaster University. You can find up-to-date stories in our current news section.

Lancaster University celebrates the Hesketh Collection

10/16/2006 13:05:28

Hesketh 23 web
Lord Hesketh

The Rt.Hon. Lord Hesketh KBE, PC and Lady Hesketh were on campus to celebrate the new home of a magnificent collection of rare and valuable books and manuscripts, the earliest of which dates back to the 11th Century.

Lord and Lady Hesketh attended a Private Viewing of the collection on the 28th September, held at the Ruskin Library, along with other invited guests.

Lancaster University was chosen as the deposit for the collection by the Trustees of the Second Baron Hesketh’s Will Trust. The collection was largely created during the mid 20th century by the second Baron Hesketh and formed part of the celebrated library at Easton Neston in Northamptonshire. The other ancestral home of the present Lord Hesketh, Rufford Old Hall in Lancashire, was given to the National Trust in 1936.

Hesketh 34 web

Professor Tony Gatrell, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Bryan Gray, Pro-Chancellor, The Rt.Hon. Lord Hesketh, Professor Alison Findlay, Head of Department of English & Creative Writing, Professor Paul Wellings, Vice-Chancellor

The collection numbers 52 works encompassing 132 volumes. The jewel of the collection is John James Audubon’s wonderfully illustrated Birds of America (four volumes), with life size depictions of birds such as the white pelican, the flamingo and the wild turkey. This represents one of a few held in libraries in the UK and is considered by Sotheby’s to be the finest copy they have seen. The collection also includes a Shakespeare First Folio, in excellent condition.

Other treasures include manuscripts and letters referring to Mary Queen of Scots, some signed by Queen Elizabeth I and some of the originals of Pierre Joseph Redouté’s Les Roses.

An exceptional collection of illustrated botanical and ornithological works of the 18th and 19th centuries sits alongside a manuscript commentary on St Matthew’s Gospel from 11th-century Germany and 15th-century Books of Hours.

The collection will provide an important resource for national and international scholars in Arts, Social Sciences, Geography and Biology and will inevitably benefit the new Lancaster Institute for Contemporary Arts.

Hesketh 38 web

Professor Alison Findlay, Head of Department of English & Creative Writing, Lady Hesketh, Jacqueline Whiteside, University Librarian

Lancaster University’s Librarian, Jacqueline Whiteside commented: “We are delighted that Lancaster has been chosen to host such a rare and interesting collection of works. The collection will be a great asset to scholars in many disciplines. It is especially fitting that, as the Hesketh family has ties to Lancashire through Rufford Old Hall, the collection will be housed at one of the leading research universities in the northwest and that exhibitions will be accessible to the regional community.”

Alexander Hesketh, 55, the third Baron Hesketh, is Chairman of British Mediterranean Airways, Deputy Chairman of Babcock International Plc, Chairman of the Conservative Party Foundation and a former Chief Whip in the House of Lords.

The Hesketh Collection: Works of ornithology, history, botany and literature from Audubon to Shakespeare will be displayed in the Ruskin Library From 30th September - 22nd December 2006.

Open throughout the year - admission free. Monday-Saturday 11am - 4pm, Sunday 1pm - 4pm. Enquiries Tel. 01524 593587

Connections : Literature, Birds & Botany: Items from Lancaster University Library complementing the Hesketh Collection exhibition in the Ruskin Library. From 25th September - 22nd December 2006 in Lancaster University Library

For details of opening times see: or telephone 01524 592517