The Library

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. The earliest records of the Cathedral are housed in the Muniment Room at the southern end of the Library.

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Featured Book of the Month : SEPTEMBER

DRAYTON, Michael   Poly-Olbion (1612)  


Michael Drayton (1563-1631) was an Elizabethan poet much favoured in court. He decided in 1598 to write a poem describing all the points of topographical and antiquarian interest in Britain and the work took him many years. The work was inspired by Camden’s Britannia.

The Poly-Olbion is a poem divided in to thirty songs, written in Alexandrine couplets, and consisting of 15,000 lines of verse. Each song describes up to three counties. The maps by William Hole are particularly interesting and Hole also engraved the title page.

Cantos 4 and 5 of this lengthy work are devoted to Lundy, taking the form of a contest in song between nymphs on either side of the River Severn estuary to determine whether the island should rightly belong to England or to Wales. The poem concludes that she belongs equally to both.

In this illustration, Neptune and Amphitrite, the Greek sea-goddess, stand on either side of the nymph of Lundy who is adorned with a gannet on her head and has a pair of rabbits at her feet.

The frontispiece is especially fine and is described in Corbett and Lightbown’s The Comely Frontispiece shelved at 096 in the RR.

OLN 42