Sunday, 18 October 2015

Librarians in Norwich: a visit to Norwich Cathedral Library

Arriving at the Cathedral, a striking mixture of old and new.

On a fine sunny Friday 25th September 2015  a group of CLG members set off for Norwich, and met Emily Downes from the Cambridge Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Norwich resident, at the visitors' entrance to Norwich Cathedral. We followed her through the Cloisters, up the stairs and into the library, to be met by the librarian Dr Gudrun Warren. We sat in the reading room to have an outline of the long history of book collection at the Cathedral, from its pre-Reformation years as a Priory, subsequent re-location, rising and falling of buildings, to the present day when the recent extension to the Cathedral made spaces for the growing collections. The library houses not only the Cathedral collections, but also the stock of the defunct Lincoln Theological College on long term loan, and the various collections from Parish Churches in the Diocese. To say nothing of individual bequests from musicians and clergy and bell-ringers over the years.  Gudrun is rather attached to the portion of medieval wall which interrupts the library office, as seen in the group photo of CLG members. We noted odd pieces of wall, arch and door in various places around the rabbit-warren of rooms, all cleverly incorporated into the new structure. There is a small staff, and many volunteers who make the collections available to people living in the Diocese as well as researchers from further afield.

The Norwich group gathered by sections of the original medieval wall.
CLG members examining a rather large book...
Gudrun described the small book shelves which used to be set into the walls of the cloisters, with lockable doors - although the door is missing, as are the books.  After our tour we enjoyed lunch in the refectory, a beautiful new extension to the ancient building, and some were able to go on a guided tour of the Cathedral itself.  There is inevitably a Cambridge connection: the current exhibition at the UL, 'His Royal Favour' describes and shows some of the enormous collection of John Moore, Bishop of Norwich 1691-1707, which was later given to King George I and given by him to Cambridge University. A great loss to Norwich Cathedral.

It was a most interesting day out, reminding us that there are treasures and ancient cities within easy reach of Cambridge, and well worth visiting. Thank you to Emily for organising the visit and to Dr Warren for her generous welcome.


Contributed by Jillian Wilkinson, Divinity Faculty Library.

No comments:

Post a Comment