RHS Lindley Library

RHS Lindley Library
Library icon Study area icon Wheelchair access icon

The RHS Lindley Library is the world’s leading horticultural library. Covering over 500 years of gardening history, the library collections include historic and contemporary books on gardening, botanical artworks, photographs and the personal archives of a number of notable gardeners and garden designers. The main library collection is held at the RHS Lindley Library in London but materials can also be accessed via the garden libraries and reading rooms at all of the RHS gardens sites across the country.

The public lending library in London now includes a dedicated exhibition space hosting a continuously changing programme of small displays showcasing rare and significant items from the collections.

Venue Type:

Archive, Library

Opening hours

Public lending library and exhibitions open 10am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays).
Research and viewing rooms bookable by appointment.

Admission charges


The collection in London comprises over 50,000 books ranging in date from 1514 to the present, over 300 current periodicals as well as many older runs, 22,000 botanical drawings, the country's largest collection of horticultural trade catalogues, and the Society's archives. Members may borrow books from the Library, by post as well as in person.

Collection details

Agriculture, Fine Art, Natural Sciences, Archives, Social History, Design

Key artists and exhibits

  • William Hooker
  • Nellie Roberts
  • Claude Aubriet
  • Georg Dionysius Ehret
  • Lilian Snelling
  • Anna Paoletto
  • Kate Nessler
  • Graham Stuart Thomas
Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.
detail from the sketchbook of Gertrude Jekyll, recently conserved by the RHS Lindley Library.

Handle with Care

  • 12 March — 20 April 2018 *on now

The library collections of the RHS were founded in 1806, beginning with a donation of just five volumes and a desire to create a resource for members to further their knowledge of every aspect of horticulture. In the two centuries that have followed many unique and valuable items have been entrusted to our care. From rare 16th-century herbals to the personal notebooks of plant collectors and garden designers, RHS Libraries now hold a range of diverse materials that need to be preserved for future generations of gardeners and historians alike.

This exhibition at the RHS Lindley Library describes how we protect and preserve our collections, exploring some of the challenges we face and the approaches that can be used to overcome them. The displays will look at the different types of material in our collections and will provide the opportunity to showcase recently conserved items.

Suitable for

  • Any age



Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.
Rosary at Ashridge Park, 1818, by Humphry Repton

Exploring Garden History

  • 2 March — 13 April 2018 *on now

This course is the ideal introduction to British garden history in the special setting of the RHS Lindley Library. Over six weeks, participants will be taken on a chronological journey through the main themes of more than 500 years of garden history.

The course leader is Dr David Marsh, a very experienced and engaging garden history tutor. In addition to the taught aspect of the course, each session will include a unique opportunity to see at first-hand relevant original material from the fabulous collections of the RHS Lindley Library.

The Lindley Library is the finest horticultural library in the world and participants will be able to view and study rare books, manuscripts, garden plans and artwork that will bring to life the topics covered each week.

Expert Library staff will be on-hand to guide you through the material and answer your questions. A reading list will be provided but this is an informal course and no prior knowledge or experience of garden history is required.

(please note there will be no session on Good Friday, 30 March)

Suitable for

  • 18+


£180 - public tickets
£150 - RHS Member tickets
To book tickets, please call 020 3176 5830 and quote reference number: 14889



Kreutterbuch, published in 1586, from the RHS Libraries' Rare Books collection

RHS Lindley Library Collections Tour

  • 28 March 2018 11am-12pm, 2-3pm

Join us for a special viewing of the exhibition ‘Handle with Care’ and an opportunity to go behind the scenes at the RHS Lindley Library. This tour will provide an introduction to the library collections and the chance to see original materials from our archives, rare books, artwork, periodicals and nursery catalogue collections.

Suitable for

  • Any age


Free admission.
Places are limited - advance booking required.
Please call the library on 020 7821 3050 or email library.london@rhs.org.uk to reserve a place.



Detached conservatory from artistic conservatories catalogue, c.1890

A World under Glass

  • 4 May 2018

For this study day, Dr Edward Diestelkamp, formerly Building Designer Advisor at The National Trust, will deliver a talk on the architectural history of glasshouses in the 19th century. This will be followed by a talk by Dr Brent Elliott, former Historian at the RHS, on the horticultural history of glasshouses from the early 19th century to the First World War. In the afternoon, Dr Melissa Thompson, Listing Advisor for Historic England, will be discussing the history and development of conservatories as a social space during the Georgian period.

After these talks, there will be an opportunity to see at first hand, original material on glasshouses from the RHS Lindley Library Collections including rare books, catalogues and artwork.

A sandwich lunch plus tea and coffee will be provided during the day.

Suitable for

  • 18+


£35 RHS Members
£40 Public



RHS Lindley Library
80 Vincent Square
Greater London





020 7821 3050

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.