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Salisbury Collection, Special Collections, Hartley Library: Home


For general enquiries about the Salisbury Collection contact:

Jenny Ruthven

email: or  tel. 023 80593335

Search Room Bookings:

email: or tel. 023 80592721

Address: Special Collections, Hartley Library, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton SO17 1BJ

Special Collections Home Page

Printed Special Collections

A-Z List of Collections

Borrowing Books

Most Salisbury Collection books in the open access area are available for Long Loan.

If you have a University I.D./Library Card you can borrow books at the Loans Desk or at the self-issue units on level 2.

John Hill, The British Herbal (1756)

engraving of plants

Rare Books Salisbury Coll. folio QK 77

Related Collections

Printed Collections

Archive Collections

Related E-Book Collections

Salisbury Collection

The collection reflects the passion for ordering the natural world and in this case recording the plants of a particular area, which arose during the eighteenth century and continues today. It includes examples of national floras such as those of Spain, Germany and Russia, but the emphasis of the collection is on British floras on both a national and a local level.

Most counties are represented and there are also examples of floras of individual towns and cities e.g. Thomas Hall A Flora of Liverpool (1839). Listings of the ferns, mosses, algae, lichens and fungi found in Britain are also included.

Many of the earlier publications come from the Perkins Botanical Collection and amongst these there are examples of herbals, practical field guides and books in the form of 'botanical dialogues', a well know example of this form of botanical instruction being Botanical Dialogues Between Hortensia and her Four Children (1797).

Extent: Over 500 books, ranging in date from the 17th century to the 20th century.

Location and Access

The Salisbury Collection is part of Special Collections on level 4 of the Hartley Library. 

  • Modern books (call number Salisbury Coll.) are shelved in the Special Collections open access area and can be used whenever the Hartley Library is open.
  • Older books (call number Rare Books Salisbury Coll.) are fetched for use in the Archives Search Room, which is open Tuesday to Thursday 10.00-15.00. Access is strictly by appointment, which must be made 5 working days in advance. Contact: to order material.

COVID-19 and External Users

Social distancing measures mean that our libraries have reduced capacity and we regret that at present we are unable to offer access to the Salisbury Collection books shelved in the Special Collections open access area to alumni, members of the public, External Borrowers and SCONUL Access Users. Rare Books can be used strictly by appointment. Please contact to make an appointment or with any enquiries.

If you do not have a University I.D. Card, you will need to show photographic I.D. and a form of I.D. which includes your permanent residential address when you enter the Hartley Library and also when you arrive at the Search Room.


  • WebCat includes records for most Salisbury Collection books. Some of the older books are listed only in the card catalogue on level 3.
  • DelphiS enables you to search across WebCat and the Library's electronic databases and is especially useful for subject searches. You will need a University login to access full-text resources.

See Salisbury Collection for a list of titles on WebCat.


Collection History

The Salisbury Collection brings together the botanical books donated by Sir Edward Salisbury to the Biomedical Sciences Library in 1978 and those presented by the family of Walter Frank Perkins to the University College of Southampton in 1948.

Sir Edward Salisbury (1886-1978) was a founder member of the British Ecological Society, who researched and wrote on woodland ecology, and with F.E. Fritsch, compiled a number of botanical textbooks during the 1920s. His later publication, Living Garden (1935) contributed to his appointment as Director of the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew in 1943, a position he held until his retirement in 1956.

Walter Frank Perkins (1865-1946) was born in Southampton and was educated at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester. He later worked as a surveyor in Southampton and was elected as the Member of Parliament for the New Forest in 1910. From 1928 to 1933, Perkins was the Treasurer of the University College of Southampton and presented his larger collection of agricultural books to the College in 1946.

J.-J. Rousseau Recueil de Plantes Coloriées, 3rd ed. (1789)

coloured engraving of plants

Rare Books Salisbury Coll. QK 92

Reprographics Service

The nearest copier is behind the main staircase on level 4.

If you are not a member of the University, you will need to set up a guest account online, see Hartley Library: Visitors

Bound volumes in Rare Books cannot be photocopied but you can request photographic or microfilm copies, subject to the age and condition of the item.

See Reprographics Service for a list of the types of copy available and charges.