Thomas Layton’s collection of over 8,000 books is stored at Hounslow Library in the care of the Local Studies Librarian. It is fully catalogued and information is gradually being added to the digital catalogue.
The collection is very wide-ranging in scope. The books date from the early 16th century to the late 19th century and include works by Speed, Camden, Pitt-Rivers, Greenwell and John Stow. A few rare and unique items date from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.
There are important works on almost every subject – the collection embraces natural history, gardening the classics, history and archaeology, the decorative arts, art and artists, architecture (including church architecture), geography and topography, music, plays and poetry, philosophy, politics and satire, English and foreign travel, explorers and exploring, as well as works of literature.
Within the collection is a small but important collection of personal papers, letters and diaries relating to Layton himself or his family. For example, the will and probate certificate for Thomas Clark, a Strand on the Green gardener, survive because Layton’s father was his executor.
Many of the books in the collection suffered from poor storage conditions before the new Hounslow Library was built. The Trust is gradually conserving them and repairing the bindings.
You can help by adopting a book. Donors’ support is always recorded in a commemorative bookplate. Some conservation has been carried out in memory of individuals interested in local history and such work is also commemorated by a bookplate in their name.