Books and paper

Books and paper

A letter from Kensington Palace, 1942

Historic Royal Palaces has many hundred books, manuscripts and paper items, the majority of which are on display.

Overview of the books and paper collections

Historic Royal Palaces has many hundred rare books and manuscript books. There is a smaller collection of important books and historic documents which have direct relevance to palace history.

Working research libraries across all palaces are used by staff and researchers.

There is also a significant paper archive relating to the more recent history of the palaces.

Artefacts from the books and paper collection

A letter from Kensington Palace

Kathleen Costelloe, a member of kitchen staff, wrote a letter to her friend Joan Cook, a former kitchen maid at Kensington Palace, in 1942. The letter is in the archive at Kensington Palace.

In 1939, 14-year-old Joan Cook started work as a kitchen maid at Kensington Palace. She worked in one of the many apartments at the palace for the Dowager Marchioness of Milford Haven - the Duke of Edinburgh's grandmother.

After Joan returned to Sunderland to live with her father, she received this letter from her friend Kathleen Costelloe, who also worked for the Dowager Marchioness. In it, Kathleen describes the incendiary bombs as they hit the palace, and the bomb shelters in Kensington Gardens - valuable details about life at the palace during the Second World War.

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