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 – October

GIRARD, Guillaume  History of the Life of the Duke d’Espernon    (1670)   

William Girard was the Secretary to the Duke of Épernon (1554-1642) and his biography of the Duke was published in 1659. It was translated into English by Charles Cotton (1630-87), who had already translated the works of Montaigne and contributed to Isaak Walton’s Compleat Angler.

The Duke of Épernon was originally Jean Louis de Nogaret de la Valette. He was a military man who fought on the Catholic side in the French religious wars and found favour with the king, Henri III. The king sold him the settlement of Épernon near Chartres and raised it to a duchy in 1581.

The Duke was involved in state politics and plots all his life and had a great rivalry with Cardinal Richelieu. He was made Admiral of France and Governor of Normandy, of Caen and of Le Havre.

OLN 370

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.