The Prince Consort's Library

The Prince Consort's Library

The Prince Consort's Library in Aldershot Military Town in the English county of Hampshire was founded by Prince Albert to contribute to the education of soldiers in the British Army. Today it is the military specialist library of the Army Library Service, specialising in the provision of information on current military topics, political subjects and international relations in support of operations, intelligence, training and education in the Armed Forces. It is open to all ranks.


On June 1, 1859 Colonel Phipps wrote on behalf of Prince Albert to Major-General J. Peel, the Secretary of State for War, stating that the Prince Consort was 'desirous of presenting a collection of 1,000 books to the officers at the Camp at Aldershot', adding that the Prince would also provide the library to house the books. [The Royal Archives, Windsor Castle] After further correspondence, work began on building the Library in September, 1859, and it opened in September, 1860 with 1,000 books which were donated from the collection of Prince Albert. [Catalogue of the Books, Maps and Plans in the Military Library of His Royal Highness the Prince Consort Aldershot. Published by Taylor and Francis, London (1860)] The Prince also paid the cost of building the Library, its furnishings, maintenance, and for the planting of trees and shrubs. The total cost amounted to £4,183.3s and 4d.

The day to day running costs of the Library were paid for by the Prince Consort until his death in 1861, when Queen Victoria made it known that she wished to continue the Royal interest in the Library and ordered that its maintenance was to be met from the Privy Purse. [The Prince Consort's Library 1860 - 1960 Published by Gale and Polden, Aldershot (1960) pg 15]

By 1887 the Library still only held 2,160 books, so the Aldershot Military Society was founded on 23 December, 1887, under the patronage of Queen Victoria, to pay for further books through the subscription paid by members of the Society, while the Privy Purse continued to pay for the Library's maintenance. This arrangement continued until 1935, when the War Office assumed responsibility for both providing books and maintaining the building. [The Prince Consort's Library 1860 - 1960 Published by Gale and Polden, Aldershot (1960)pg 17]

The Prince Consort's Library was designed by Captain Francis Fowke [] of the Royal Engineers, who also designed the Royal Albert Hall. An additional wing was added in 1911.


External links

* [ Biography of Fowke on the Royal Engineers website]
* [ The Library on the Catterick Garrison website]
* [ Questions asked in Parliament in 1997 concerning the Library's future]

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