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 – November

DANIEL, Gabriel      A Voyage to the World of Cartesius (1692)

Gabriel Daniel (1649-1728) was a French Jesuit historian best known for his appointment by Louis XIV as Historiographer of France.

A Voyage to the World of Cartesius was originally written in French and this is the first edition of the English translation by T. Taylor. There are 16 illustrations of Cartesian vortexes and planetary orbits.

The book is largely a satire on the work of Descartes. It is a work of serious criticism but is also now considered one of the earliest works of science fiction. It is also cited as the first book in which the modern concept of “space”, as in outer space, occurs. Another feature is that it is one of the earliest attacks on the Cartesian practice of vivisection (p.241/2).

OLN 91

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.