About Worcester Cathedral Library and Archive

There has been a library at Worcester Cathedral for well over a thousand years. The first systematically arranged archive was established by Bishop Wulfstan in the eleventh century, and housed in what is now the cloister. 

Worcester Cathedral Library, 1906. Photograph by permission of the Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

The collection was moved to its current position in the roof-space above the south nave aisle in the fourteenth century. However, the upheavals of the Reformation and the Civil War meant that many books were lost. Between 1670 and c. 1860, the roof-space was used as a school-room, and the library was moved to the Chapter House where it remained until the Victorian restoration of the Cathedral.

Since its inception the library has acquired an extensive collection of books and papers, ranging from tenth-century manuscripts to modern reference works. It is the home of the archives of the Dean and Chapter, and also possesses a fine music collection, including pieces by Edward Elgar and Thomas Tomkins. Visitors can follow in the illustrious footsteps of Samuel Pepys and Dr Johnson by booking a tour of the library, and researchers are also welcome to come and use the collections.

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