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.

Featured Library Book of the Month – October

AGRIPPA, Cornelius    De Occulta Philosophia     (Leyden,  1600)

Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim (1486-1535) was a German magician, theologian, alchemist and astrologer.

Agrippa’s thought unites the streams of classical Neoplatonic and Hermetic philosophy, Jewish Kabbalah and Christianity. The Three Books of Occult Philosophy, his most famous work, is a systematic exposition of the occult, in the sense of hidden, knowledge extant in Renaissance Europe. It is an encyclopedic work of Renaissance magic providing information on such diverse topics as planetary rulerships, occult virtues, sympathies and enmities of natural things, enchantments, sorceries, types of divination, the scales of numbers and their significance, astrological talismans, the divine Trinity, the Kabbalistic Names of God and the orders of evil spirits.

The book had an influence on later magical thinkers such as Giordano Bruno and John Dee. It is also mentioned by writers of fiction such as Mary Shelley, James Joyce, Borges and he appears in Harry Potter.

The book is published in Latin.

OLN 116

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.