The Cullum Library Collection (Cul)
The Cullum family owned Hardwick Hall until 1921 when, following the death of George Gery Milner-Gibson-Cullum, a bachelor with no heir, the estate was transferred to the Crown. He was able to dispose of his personal property. As mayor of Bury St Edmunds in 1913-14 he had been instrumental in establishing Moyse’s Hall as a museum and had lent the new museum a number of his family possessions. When he died these were bequeathed to the borough. He also presented the borough with family heirlooms including portraits, china, objects d’art, archives and 4,000 books from his library. When the new borough library was built in Raingate Street the Cullum Library was moved into it. The record office subsequently moved to the building in 1974 when Suffolk County Council took over responsibility for library services and the record offices became the main centres for the preservation of local studies collections as well as archives.
The Cullum Library is a private gentlemen’s library spanning about 400 years. The importance of this library is that it does not represent just the passion of one individual, but has been put together by successive generations of the same family and therefore reflects their many different interests. The collection was started by Sir Thomas Gery Cullum 1st Baronet in London. He was a rich London draper and former Sheriff of London who came from a long established Suffolk family. He had fallen out of favour during the Protectorate because he supported the royalist cause during the Civil War, but rose again following the Restoration. He bought the Hardwick and Hawstead estates in 1656 with their handsome houses, and he and his successors developed these estates, extended the houses and established libraries. The books cover a fascinating range of subjects including:- botany, gardening, architecture, astronomy, history, the colonies, volcanos, birds, moths and butterflies, agriculture, genealogy, heraldry, politics, palm-reading, medicine, recipes, sermons, poetry, witchcraft, voyages, journeys, antiquities, proverbs, biographies etc. Many of the books contain annotations made by various members of the Cullum family.