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

CASTELL, Edmund     Lexicon Heptaglotton (2 vols) (1669)  

Edmund Castell (1606-1685) was an English orientalist and he is a great lesson for modern authors who neglect their marketing. His Lexicon Heptaglotton Hebraicum, Chaldaicum, Samaritanum, Aethiopicum, Arabicum et Persicum took him 18 years to complete working 16 to 18 hours a day, employing 14 assistants and costing him £12,000 from his inherited fortune. It was intended as a supplement to Bishop Brian Walton’s 1657 Polyglot Bible on which Castell had also worked.

Unfortunately, sales were so small that he ruined himself and found himself in prison. It is believed as many as 500 copies were remaindered. When his niece inherited the unsold copies, she stored them in an unsound building. On her death, the rat eaten remains were sold as scrap paper for £7.

However, a book of poems dedicated to the King brought Castell preferment and he was made a Prebendary of Canterbury Cathedral and Professor of Arabic at Cambridge University.

OLN 52

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.