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

Royal Commentaries of Peru    (1688)

“El Inca” Garcilosa de la Vega (1539-1616), so designated to distinguish him from a Spanish poet of the same surname, was a Peruvian historian born to a Spanish conquistador father and a mother of a royal Incan lineage.

He moved to Spain for his further education when he was 21 and lived there for the rest of his life, mainly in Montilla and Cordoba.

Because he felt rejected owing to the non-recognition of children of mixed race by the Spanish, he became more proud of his Incan ancestry and took on the name “El Inca”.

He wrote the Royal Commentaries based on stories told to him by his Incan relatives as a child.  They are in two parts: the first is a

description of Incan life and culture, and the second deals with the Spanish conquest of Peru. Many feel that these accounts are the most accurate available but others point out that the description of life in pre-Conquest Peru is somewhat romanticized excluding any mention, for example, of human sacrifice.

OLN   94

The illustration of open-heart surgery on p.403 is of interest.  

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.