Leland, King’s Antiquarian

John Leland received a Royal Scholarship in 1526, and spent a period studying in Paris. Leland developed in interest in antiquarian studies and researching old documents.

Leland became a sub-librarian in one the royal libraries in 1530. In 1533 a number of poems by Leland were read at the coronation of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.

Leland was obviously in the king's eye, because later that he received a royal commission as King Henry VIII’s Antiquarian "to make a search after England's Antiquities, and peruse the Libraries of all Cathedrals, Abbies, Priories, Colleges, etc. as also all places wherein Records, Writings and secrets of Antiquity were reposed."

Leland journeyed widely, and collected and transcribed many documents which would otherwise have been lost during the dissolution of the monasteries (which started in 1536). Leland visited for example Somerset (in 1533), York (1534) and St. Albans (1535).

And in 1539 Leland began travelling England and Wales again to record more about the history of the country in a book "History and Antiquities" which he wrote at the completion of his travels in 1545. These travels took Leland to a number of King Arthur locations

King Arthur in Literature