PLANS to break up and sell a collection of 5,000 medieval manuscripts, books and pamphlets have been branded "an act of vandalism" by a leading historian.
Items from the Mendham Collection, which is owned by the Law Society of England and Wales, are due to be sold at auction to fill a funding hole.
In an attempt to preserve the historic documents, Canterbury Cathedral and the University of Kent have launched a campaign, including an online petition attracting nearly 3,000 signatures.
Among the supporters is historian and TV presenter Diarmaid MacCulloch, who said: "This really is an act of vandalism on a collection which contains the annotations of the collector: always a reason for maintaining the collection's integrity, quite apart from the intrinsic historic interest and value of the individual books."
The collection has been held under the custodianship of the university and cathedral for nearly 30 years, but on Wednesday, July 18, auctioneers Sotheby's took away up to 300 books.
Alixe Bovey, the director of the university's Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, said: "The collection is a valuable witness to the development of Protestantism and Catholicism, and the tensions between them, from the time of the Reformation up to Mendham's lifetime."
To sign the petition, search for Mendham Collection at www.change.org