Books and libraries in Canterbury

7 August 2008, revised


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Information about libraries, books,
book-owners, etc.
in Canterbury before c. 1900

David J. Shaw

    Canterbury Cathedral: the 17th-century library
Canterbury Cathedral,
the 17th-century library
An experimental wiki version of these pages is being developed.
It contains some additional data on some topics and is organised in a slightly different manner.
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Canterbury Cathedral Library – history

Canterbury Cathedral Library : a chronology
A summary chronology of the libraries of Canterbury Cathedral from the Anglo-Saxon period to the present-day.

Canterbury Cathedral Librarians since the Reformation
A chronological list of known office-holders in the Library and Archives of Canterbury Cathedral from c.1600.

The Earliest Books of Canterbury Cathedral
A catalogue by Professor Richard Gameson of the manuscripts and fragments to c. 1200 AD, published by the Bibliographical Society, the British Library and the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury, 2008.

Books acquired by Canterbury Cathedral in 1551
A transcription of Christ Church Letters, vol. II, item 212, listing 19 works in 30 volumes delivered to the Cathedral on 12 October 1551.

The 1634 inventory of the contents of Canterbury Cathedral Library
An inventory made under the supervision of Canon Meric Casaubon on the occasion of Archbishop Laud's Visitation. The inventory of the Library recorded 31 printed books and 27 manuscripts.

Canterbury Cathedral
The official web site of Canterbury Cathedral, with pages for the Library and Archives.

Canterbury Cathedral Library – donors, previous owners, etc.

Canterbury Cathedral Library donors
A chronological list of provenance evidence relating to the history of Canterbury Cathedral and its Library before c. 1900

Donors Book (Lit. MS E40)

John and William Somner
Entries in Canterbury Cathedral's Donors' Book, c. 1665, recording gifts of books to the new library by the antiquarian William Somner and his brother John.
With translations and notes.

Books owned by William Somner
A list of books with ownership inscriptions or manuscript annotations by William Somner, mainly from the collection purchased from his widow in 1669.

Books given to William Somner by Meric Casaubon
Illustration and transcription of Somner's annotation in one of his books.

Jonas Owyn and Archbishop Juxon
In 1668 the Rev. Jonas Owyn, Rector of Sibertswold cum Colred (Sheperdswell with Coldred), gave the Cathedral Library his copy of the Douai Bible in which he had recorded Archbishop Juxon's contribution to the rebuilding of the Library.

Armorial bindings
Book bindings with coats of arms in the collections of the Dean and Chapter in Canterbury Cathedral Library
Armorial bindings of Archbishop John Whitgift (c. 1530–1604)

Armorial bindings of Archbishop Richard Bancroft (1544–1610)

Armorial bindings of Archbishop George Abbot (1562–1633)

Canterbury Cathedral provenance data

Names of previous owners of books in Canterbury Cathedral Library printed before 1801.

A provisional list of 3152 former owners, based on the provenance index published in the microfiche catalogue of the Cathedral's books printed before 1801 (David Shaw and Sheila Hingley (and others), Canterbury Cathedral Library: Catalogue of pre-1801 printed books. Adam Matthew Publications, Marlborough, 1998. 24 pp + 17 microfiches).

Web pages hosted by the Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL)
Sources for names

Other libraries in Canterbury

Robin Alston's Library History site
The section for Kent lists over 40 dated references to the existence of libraries in Canterbury from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Includes lots of commercial circulating libraries.

University of Kent Library
Special Collections include
  • Crow Collections - From the library of Professor John Crow.
    Early Printed Books, Renaissance Literature, Ballad & Song
  • Maddison Collection - From the library of Dr R.E.W. Maddison.
    Science & Technology books of 17th,18th, centuries, especially editions of Robert Boyle and Joseph Priestley

Canterbury Christ Church University Library
St Augustine's Library holds the University's theology collection. In addition there is another collection of some 23,000 books from the old St Augustine's Missionary College. This includes subjects such as liturgy, missions, church history and biographies as well as theology.

King's School Library
The School Library: a brief history from its foundation in 1702.

Canterbury Public Library
Local Studies Collection contains information and specialist material on topics of local and Kentish interest. Particular attention is paid to collecting material about the Canterbury area. Shorthand Collection.

Franciscan International Study Centre
The library holds around 60,000 volumes, most of which are on open access. There are nearly 200 journal runs, including over 120 current subscriptions, in the fields of Franciscan Studies, Theology, Biblical Studies, Church History and Ethics, among others. The library's Franciscan Studies collection includes over 6 000 volumes specifically related to the various fields of Franciscanism, and is believed to be the largest such collection in northern Europe. The earliest volumes date from the late Middle Ages.