Friday, February 5, 2021

The Bexford Lending Library


The Huntsman Newspaper

Friday, February 5, 1794

Grand Opening of The Bexford Lending Library

By Mr. Edward Turner

Last summer, on a picnic while the men fished and the ladies enjoyed the sunshine, an idea was born. Miss Jane Meryvale had a thought which she shared with Lady Caroline Farnsworth and Lady Elizabeth Marlowe who were both immediately taken with the idea, and that sunny day, the three became the patronesses for a lending library to be opened in the new year in Bexford.

Planning commenced that very afternoon deciding who would source the books and who would find the venue for this very auspicious project. Miss Meryvale, who would be travelling to Bath later that same week took on the behemoth task of sourcing books which number in the hundreds; while Lady Marlowe and Lady Farnsworth visited shop front after shop front until just the right place was decided upon after much consideration.

Autumn and Winter months have been filled with a flurry of activity in a little shoppe in Bexford on the High Street, as well as behind the scenes. Workmen fitted shelves around the shop, an ornate counter placed at the front by the window, a reading room was organized to the rear of the building and once construction was complete, the arduous task of filling those shelves commenced. The patronesses convened and met with the applicants who answered their ad with hopes of being taken on as manager of the establishment.

The Lending Library saw a crowd of people outside awaiting the grand opening whom Miss Meryvale addressed in a welcoming speech. Once the ribbon had been cut, the three patronesses opened the shop and purchased the first three subscriptions to a rousing applause. Once the public was admitted to the shoppe, a constant stream of patrons spoke excitedly as they waited in line to purchase their subscriptions.

Mr. Reynolds and his assistant, Mr. Felton, were busy for most of the day making subscriptions, answering questions and showing patrons where this book or that may be located. With so many people eager to purchase their subscriptions and begin browsing the book-lined shelves one would think it was a tedious endeavour, but the buoyant mood of all made it an exciting venture to be part of.

We take our hats off to the three patronesses, Miss Meryvale, Lady Marlowe and Lady Farnsworth who have given of their time and efforts in providing such a worthy service for our town. On later discussions they informed me they intended to make gift subscriptions to some of the less fortunate in our midst. A grand gesture from such magnanimous ladies.

The Lending Library shall be open during the week from 8:00 am in the morning until 3:00 pm in the afternoons excepting Sundays. Do stop in if only to admire the thoughtful endeavours of those involved in this undertaking.

Bexford Lending Library, No 25 High Street, Bexford.

Rules for Subscribers to the Lending Library are as follows:

To pay Five Shillings each, which entitles them to the use of Books, and Newspapers, for any length of time, not exceeding two months, betwixt the first day of January and the last day of November, Sundays excepted.

Each Subscriber may have two Books at a time.

The Books to be returned to the Shoppe, or paid for before the Subscriber leaves the place.

No Subscriber to lend the Books belonging to this Library to any other person.

Newspapers are not on any account to be taken out of the Reading Room.

Notable titles at the Lending Library include:


Solyman & Almena

Gulliver’s Travels


Moral Tales


Tom Jones

Arabian Nights



Death of Abel

Addition on Christian Religion

Pilgrim’s Progress

Rowe’s Letters

Economy of Human Life









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