The London Library on 14 Saint James’s Square in St James, London SW1Y 4LG

The iconic London Library building is one of the largest independent lending libraries in the world, and the largest establishment of its kind in the UK. The London Library was first established in 1841 but didn’t move to its current home in St James until 1845. The beautiful and architecturally ornate building it occupies was constructed long before it became a public library; it was originally constructed in 1676 and intended to be a private house.

From its opening on the 3rd May 1841, the hushed rooms became a special retreat for some of the world’s best writers and thinkers in literature, Henry James, Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, George Eliot, Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker, George Bernard Shaw, Virginia Woolf, Isaiah Berlin, Laurence Olivier, Agatha Christie and Harold Pinter among many others.

The moment the London Library took possession of the building, they began to renovate and expand it. The transformation includes a new Art Room and Time Room, refurbished reading spaces, new types of working space in line with the needs of the digital age users. Once the development work is complete, the library will have grown from 55 reading desks to 200. Fortunately, the extensive plans to upgrade the facility are being done sensitively, allowing this beautiful and imposing building to retain much of its original charm.

The London Library now houses more than a million books and periodicals, in over 50 languages. The collection ranges from works published in the 16th century to the most modern tomes published this year. Membership to the library is open to everyone, and currently costs £44 per month.


Nearest Tube: Green Park – 5 minute walk

Opening Hours
Monday to Wednesday - 9.30am - 8.00pm
Thursday to Saturday - 9.30am - 5.30pm
Sunday - Closed

For information on property for sale or to rent in and around Saint James’s Square in St James, please contact CityWest Residential, leading estate agents in Westminster.


Interim Director
Alastair Murray