The University of Kent is calling for support to prevent the Law Society separating a unique historic collection of more than 5000 invaluable items.
The collection was donated by the Mendham family to the Law Society at the end of the nineteenth century, and was agreed to be held under the custodianship of the University and Canterbury Cathedral until 31 December 2013.
The Law Society has given notice of its instruction to Sotheby’s auction house to remove the most valuable items on 18 July 2012 as part of a fundraising drive.
Director of the University’s centre for medieval and early modern studies Alixe Bovey said: “The imminent removal of the most valuable items will cause irreparable damage to the coherence and richness of this historic collection.
“While we appreciate the need for the Law society to raise funds, we ask that the Society works with us to find a way to preserve this invaluable collection.”
The unique historic collection includes several thousand manuscripts, early books and pamphlets. It was formed by Joseph Mendham, an Anglican clergyman with a keen interest in the history of theology.
The collection has been accessible through the Cathedral to students and researchers from around the world.
In a statement a Law Society spokesperson said: “When representatives of the Law Society met earlier this year with representatives of Canterbury Cathedral Library and the University of Kent, we made clear that the decision to sell the collection was not one that the Law Society took lightly. As we made clear then, we would be happy to sell the collection to the University and the Cathedral.”
The Law Society added that any sale by auction will not take place before 1 November 2012.