Furnished with more than 60 years’ experience and history, the Abbey Bookbindery binds books in leather and cloth for private individuals, long-established London clubs and libraries, and major independent publishers. We have attracted customers from as far afield as New Zealand and even bound a book for Genesis keyboardist and progressive rock legend, Tony Banks.
Our books are all handbound, using very little modern machinery and relying instead on traditional methods passed down over centuries. Over the years we have worked on a number of highly prestigious projects. In 2012, we bound a book celebrating the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens, which was presented to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. 30 years earlier, we bound the Order of Service for Pope John Paul II’s visit to Westminster Cathedral.
Founded in 1955 by Father Anscar Neilson at St Michael’s Abbey in Farnborough, Hampshire, the Abbey Bookbindery enjoys an illustrious history. In its earliest days, the monks at the Abbey carried out the binding work, assisted by one or two secular craftsmen. Eventually the bindery was staffed entirely by secular craftsmen, although close links were retained with the monastic community at all times.
In 1996, after 40 years of service, the Abbey sold the bindery to the craftsmen who had devoted their entire working lives to it. Although the bindery was no longer within the Abbey grounds, the work continued to the same exacting standards set by the monks half a century earlier. All books, whether ancient or modern, receive the individual care and attention of craftsmen who really know how to judge a book by its cover! Although Father Anscar is no longer with us, we like to think that he is keeping watch over the bindery, making sure we never forget our roots.
Today the Abbey Bookbindery is owned and managed by Paul Berry, a qualified bookbinder with 47 years’ service at the bindery. Starting his career in 1973, Paul first came into contact with the bindery through the Abbey Choir. He successfully completed a 5-year apprenticeship at Guildford College and obtained an Advanced Craft Certificate in Bookbinding with the City and Guilds of London Institute. Since then, his love of bookbinding has only grown. He continues to be committed to the craft and to utilising his honed skills to deliver the highest quality work to his customers.
The Abbey Bookbindery moved from the grounds of Farnborough Abbey to a site in Deepcut, Camberley in 1996, which remained the home of the business for the next 24 years.
In 2020, the Abbey Bookbindery moved again, this time to Paul Berry’s home, the benefits of which include the fact that Mrs Berry can now bring him coffee!