Worcester Cathedral Library

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Worcester Cathedral Library is an ancient library, part of Worcester Cathedral in England. The library was founded in Anglo-Saxon times. King Offa of Mercia is known to have given a Bible in c. 780. In the early middle ages the library was originally located in the cloisters. In the fourteenth century, the library moved to its present position in the roof space above the south nave aisle. In 1670 it was taken down to the Chapter House, until the Victorian Restoration of the cathedral in the 1860s when it was temporarily housed in the Edgar Tower and finally put back into the south nave aisle roof space.

Under the care of Canon Dr. William Hopkins from 1675 to 1700. Hopkins, supported by his fellow members of the Chapter and in particular Dean George Hickes, the library gradually built up a fine collection of books. The collection was maintained by a series of librarians who ensured the catalogues were kept up to date. Worcester’s medieval collection is strong in the area of academic texts, many of which would have been used by the monks when they went to study various subjects at Gloucester Hall, which is now Worcester College at the University of Oxford. There are also a variety of medieval printed books, including early printed fragments of the Canterbury Tales.

The collection comprises 298 medieval manuscripts which range mainly from the tenth to the fifteenth centuries. There are also 5400 post medieval books collected by the post medieval Dean and Chapter and the Bishops of Worcester, and 19,000 archive documents which belong to the Dean and Chapter and stretch from the middle ages to the present day.

  • Library website
  • R. M. Thomson, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Medieval Manuscripts in Worcester Cathedral Library, D. S. Brewer 2001, with a contribution on the bindings by Michael Gullick.