The Leighton Library was erected in 1687 some 336 years ago and is a national treasure. A ‘Category A’ listed building, it houses the book collection of Bishop Leighton (1611 - 1684), former Principal of Edinburgh University, Bishop of Dunblane and Archbishop of Glasgow.
The oldest volume dates from 1504 and the collection is of international importance.
The building and collection are have been owned by the Leighton Library Trust since the beginning and it is situated on The Cross, the ancient site of the burgh’s market place, at the heart of the town, close to Dunblane Cathedral and Dunblane Museum. The building exhibits rare architectural detail typical of 17th century construction. The facade is distinguished by a fine example of a 17th century marble cartouche thought to have been carved by a London workshop and provided by Leighton's executors, nephew Edward Lightmaker, a Brewer in the City of London.and his sister Sapphira Lightmaker.
The Library is one of a very small number of surviving independent libraries in Scotland which still holds its books in their original cabinets. The collection was added to in the 18th and 19th centuries and includes a number of historically important volumes. It retains original fixtures such as six 17th century book presses and six original Jacobean chairs.
The collection now contains 4500 books in 90 languages printed between 1500 and 1840. Visitors can browse through some of the country's rarest books including first editions of Sir Walter Scott's Lady of the Lake, Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations and Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man.