The Cathedral Library was built in the mid-fifteenth century over the East Cloister.

It houses the book collection of the Chapter in two areas: the Chained Library and the Reading Room.

Proud to Celebrate Staff Talent

How many Cathedrals can boast two staff authors with new book releases? Both Cathedral Librarian, Kevin Spears, and Archivist Anne Crawford, have recently produced volumes, now on sale in the Cathedral shop.

An Illustrated History of the Books in the Chained Library of Wells Cathedral’, is available for £19.99.

Kevin Spears' book coverIn an accessible format, with many beautiful visual examples, it gives background notes on the history of the book, ranging from production of manuscripts and early printing, to literacy, copyright and censorship, bookbinding and more. The Chained Library of Wells Cathedral has manuscript and printed books produced between the years 1000-1800. Together with the modern Reading Room, it is a working library still occupying the same space created for it above the East Cloister in the mid-1400s.

 ‘The Vicars of Wells: A History of the College of Vicars Choral’ (2016), is available for £15.

The vicars choral of Wells have been singing in the cathedral for more than nine centuries, generation after generation of dedicated musicians.  In 1348 Bishop Ralph of Shrewsbury founded the College of Vicars Choral at Wells by charter.  They were the first group of vicars to be thus formally incorporated in the country.  The college as an institution lasted until 1931.  The college hall and the individual houses for each vicar, forming Vicars’ Close built by Bishop Ralph, have survived remarkably unchanged.

Both volumes come highly recommended.

Featured Library Book of the Month - April

PURCHAS, Samuel   Purchas his Pilgrimes (4 vols)   (1625)

Samuel Purchas (1575?-1626) was educated at Cambridge and took holy orders ending his career as rector of St Martin’s, Ludgate.

He is remembered for his continuation of the work of Richard Hakluyt in editing manuscripts of early travellers and explorers. This 4th edition brought together travel exploits from the earliest days up to the discoveries in the Americas.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge claims to have gained his inspiration for the poem Kubla Khan when he was reading Purchas at his home in Somerset and came across Marco Polo’s accounts of his travels where he describes Kubla Khan’s palace at Xanadu. This description appears on P.80 of Volume 4.

As many of the manuscripts of early exploration have since disappeared, Purchas is an important source on the history of travel.

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