At its height, in the late 1990s, Lenkiewicz’s private library numbered some twenty five thousand volumes, covering a range of subjects, from philosophy and theology, to psychology and sociology, and from art history and biography to aesthetics, literary criticism and historiography. These sat alongside a few unique collections devoted to witchcraft and the occult, sex and erotica, gerontology and death, and Nazism and Fascism. Some of the smaller holdings were kept in his studio on the Barbican Parade, whilst the bulk was shelved at St Saviour’s, in a splendidly opulent re-creation of the Bodleian’s Duke Humfrey library at Oxford University. It was here that he amassed a significant collection of antiquarian books and manuscripts, together with some authenticated notes and letters written by such distinguished philosophers as Kant, Leibniz and Locke. Sadly, virtually all of the antiquarian books, and most of these important curiosities and literary relics were sold or auctioned off in order to meet outstanding debts and sundry calls on the estate.
After Robert’s untimely death in 2002, The Robert Lenkiewicz Library was housed in St Saviour’s, a de-consecrated nineteenth century church which sits atop Lambhay Hill, overlooking the picturesque water-frontage of Plymouth’s historic Barbican. However, plans to refurbish the building required the Foundation to release its temporary tenancy to a new CIC to carry forward development plans backed by Lottery funds.
Having no premises of its own The Lenkiewicz Foundation sought to find a new home for parts of its collection. The 500 modern books on witchcraft and magic are now at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Boscastle. In 2018, the Art, Art Biography and Art History collection (4,000 books) was placed on 5-year loan at Plymouth College of Art in a special reference room (now closed). A further 2,000 volumes were placed with KARST in Plymouth and the book charity BookCycle. TLF hoped to achive something similar for the 5,000 philosophy books, contacting every academic library in the UK to offer them the collection. However, modern libraries seem to be moving to online resources, given that so many academic texts have now been digitised. Unable to afford the significant storage costs, the Foundation reluctantly sold the remainder of the library between 2022-23.