Research Libraries and Archives

The Cathedral Library, although a worthy repository of learning, has a chequered history. To quote Francis Steer, ‘Far too many books have been lost by war, salvage, fire, ignorance and indifference’. Much of the medieval library was dispersed during the Reformation; many books were lost during the Civil War. Thankfully the stock has been replenished by various donations and bequests, including the collection of Bishop Henry King.

The present library houses an eclectic collection of books, manuscripts, documents, photographs and pictures. It is rich in editions of works of the Church Fathers; many of the volumes are in their original bindings. There are many books on theology, along with early printed editions of Bibles and prayer books. Other subject represented include English and local history, topography, hymnology, liturgy and ecclesiastical and other biography.

Two examples of noteworthy texts: William Whittacker’s 1585 edition of the controversy between a leading Anglican apologist, Bishop John Jewel of Salisbury, and the Jesuit Thomas Harding. This work, printed in Geneva, has a polished calf binding inscribed in gold stamping. Also we have a beautiful Benedictine missal from 1481, ‘Office of the Holy Spirit’, here used for the cover of this leaflet. It contains some musical notation, is rubricated, and has an illuminated full-page painting of the crucifixion.

Find out more: Hours by appointment.