1st May 1889
Priaulx Library opens for the first time
The Priaulx Library opened for business on 1 May 1889. It is the primary repository of family and local history on Guernsey. It was a gift to the island from Osmond de Beauvoir Priaulx, and is housed in his former home, Candie House.
Priaulx had been born in Guernsey in 1805, and moved first to Cambridge to study, then to London to become a barrister and author. Although he hadn’t lived long on the island, he remembered it right up until the time of his death in 1891. He had donated the Candie Estate, in St Peter Port, and his collection of books, some years before his passing. He wanted the house to become a library that would be free for anyone to use.
Several volumes were still in transit when the Priaulx Library opened in 1889 under the guidance of librarian Percy Groves. Priaulx himself had requested that it be called Candie Library so as not to look egotistical, but the States ignored his wishes.
Candie House, in St Peter Port, was built at the end of the 18th century and was, for a while, the home of the Bailiff, St Peter Stafford Carey. Carey was never the owner, merely a tenant of Joshua Priaulx, who sold the property to his brother, Osmond, during the Bailiff’s tenancy.
Osmond Priaulx lived in London, so had no need for the house. He sold it to the States of Guernsey and spent the money that the sale had raised – £2000 – renovating the property. It was at that point converted for use as a public library, which Priaulx funded with a further bequest of £10,000 to pay for books.
Although he didn’t occupy the house during his lifetime, Priaulx could be said to live there now. He was cremated in London and his ashes were returned to Guernsey. They are now in an urn, which is on display in the library.
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