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.


Chained Library Featured Book of the Month – January

MABILLON, Jean Annales Ordinis Sancti Benedicti (5 vols) (Paris, 1703-1713)

Jean Mabillon (1632-1707) was a French Benedictine monk and scholar. Entering the monastery of St Germain in Paris, his talent for scholarship was recognised and he began work on a number of books. He edited the works of St Bernard of Clairvaux, 1667, and then worked with another monk on the nine volumes of the Lives of the Benedictine Saints, 1668-1701.

In 1681 Mabillon published De re diplomatica libri sex, which investigated the different types of medieval scripts and manuscripts and is now seen as the foundation work of palaeography. He began travelling in Europe collecting medieval manuscripts for the Royal library.

The Annales Ordinis Sancti Benedicti is the chronicled history of the Benedictine order and covers the period 580-1116 AD. Mabillon worked on this from 1693 until his death, and the last volume was edited after he died.

The King of France made him one of the founding members of the Academie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres.

The Mabillon station on the Paris Metro is named after him.

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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.