Weston Room & Rolls Chapel
The Weston Room was formerly known as the Rolls Chapel.
The Maughan Library has a rich and varied history rooted beneath its floors. The origins of the site date back to 1232, when the ‘House of the Converts’ was built here as a place of refuge for Jews who had converted to Christianity.
In the 14th century, the site become known as the Rolls Estate, and provided private lodging for the Master of the Rolls and a chapel to house the records of the Courts of Chancery. The Rolls Chapel was demolished in 1895 all that remains of the chapel now are the three funerary monuments and the stained-glass panels.
Now, the space is used for university events – for example Special Collections regularly hold exhibitions of rare books and records that the University own which are open to all King’s students and staff.
More recently in October 2015, Prince William, along with Sir David Attenborough, Bear Grylls and a number of our own students, visited the Weston Room for a key speech on wildlife conservation, which caused a bit of excitement here on campus!
The Original Cell
The final room of the tour is the Original Cell, a space which has been preserved in its original state since the building’s completion in 1851. Despite what the name suggests, this was not a prison cell, but instead the Maughan Library was previously the Public Records Office for the country and is now Grade II* listed.
This building is also the first fire-proof building in the country – the Palace of Westminster had burned down in 1836, and so with the important documentation housed here, it was crucial that this building would not be at the same risk. As a result, the cell doors – like the one we entered through – weigh half a ton each and are cast iron in order to attempt any outbreak of fire.
There was also no artificial lighting or central heating in the original building as they were considered a fire hazard – which explains the large number of windows as everything had to be naturally lit.
The space is currently an informal prayer space, so if it is not in use you can have a look into how the spaces would have looked in the past.