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.

Featured Library Book of the Month – January

BROWNE, Thomas    Religio Medici    (1643)

 Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682) studied medicine at Oxford and Leiden. He settled in Norwich where he spent the rest of his life practising as a doctor. He wrote on varied subjects including religion, medicine and science. He is best known for the Religio Medici but we also have his early antiquarian treatise on burial urns in Norfolk, Hydriotaphia.

Religio Medici, meaning the Religion of a Doctor, was a European bestseller in its day. It is a spiritual testament as well as a psychological self-portrait. It digresses into astrology, alchemy, and esoteric learning and is a plea for the mind to reach its own conclusions in its own way. It is renowned for its wit and learning and began a series of imitations based on private memoirs and personal writings in the seventeenth century and beyond.

OLN 346

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.