What’s in a name? Books at Lanhydrock

The Long Gallery at Lanhydrock, Cornwall

Lanhydrock is the Trust’s oldest large library. Many of its books belonged to a man with an improbable name - Hannibal Gamon (1582-c1651) - the son of a London goldsmith, with family connections in the West Country.

Hannibal Gamon was educated at Oxford, and lectured in theology at Broadgates Hall (precursor to Pembroke College in 1624). Friends called him Hanny, but it is unknown why he was named after the Carthaginian general.

Gamon in Cornwall

Hanny arrived in Cornwall in 1619, becoming Rector of St Mawgan, an important parish. Like most Elizabethan clergy, his basic theology followed that of the Protestant reformer John Calvin. He would have regarded the Church of Rome not as a misguided form of Christianity, but as blasphemous and wicked.
Nevertheless his library contains a broad range of Greek and Latin texts. Gamon believed in reading his enemy.
Like other scholars of his day, Gamon wrote in the margins as he read, and he bought interesting books on the second-hand market. One example is a book recently discovered to have come from Henry VIII’s library.
It is not known why Gamon’s library ended up at Lanhydrock, but the books seem to have been there by 1681.

Access to our Libraries

The Trust’s library catalogue is online, and we warmly welcome researchers (with notice), who would like to read or examine books in our libraries. Today’s scholars are often interested to learn how our books were bound, where they were purchased, who owned them, and how they were used by their original owners.
As the digital revolution gathers pace, a new academic discipline is flourishing: the history of the book. The Trust’s libraries are very much involved in it.