Exhibition marks library milestone for Norwich Cathedral

The Norwich Cathedral library is celebrating a century in its current location. Librarian Gudrun Warren.
Photo: Bill Smith The Norwich Cathedral library is celebrating a century in its current location. Librarian Gudrun Warren. Photo: Bill Smith

Thursday, April 4, 2013
11:03 AM

Norwich Cathedral is holding an exhibition to mark its historic library moving into part of the cathedral’s cloister 100 years ago.

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The Norwich cathedral library is celebrating a century in its current location. The Legenda Aurea, an incunabula dating from 1483.
Photo: Bill SmithThe Norwich cathedral library is celebrating a century in its current location. The Legenda Aurea, an incunabula dating from 1483. Photo: Bill Smith

There has been a library at the cathedral since the foundation of the priory and church in 1096 but over the centuries it has had different homes. The exhibition in the cathedral’s Hostry will look at the library’s move to its current home in the upper south range of the cloister in June 1913 and the 40 years leading up to the move.

Gudrun Warren, Norwich Cathedral librarian, said: “The library had quite a number of moves but it is a marvellous collection today with many notable books which are shown from time to time.

“It is viewed as a typical clerical collection of the 17th and 18th centuries made special by its local associations and enhanced by the extensive modern theological collection which sits alongside it.

“I think people will find the exhibition very interesting and we hope they will take the time to visit and learn more about this part of the cathedral.”

The Norwich Cathedral library is celebrating a century in its current location. David Hodgson's painting of housing opposite the deanery dates from 1832.
Photo: Bill SmithThe Norwich Cathedral library is celebrating a century in its current location. David Hodgson's painting of housing opposite the deanery dates from 1832. Photo: Bill Smith

The library was in the audit chamber in the 17th century but the building became dilapidated and too small for the growing collection. Demolition of a house over the south-east corner of the cloister in 1873 freed the area for alternative use.

Following demolition of another house in Upper King Street in 1883, the Chapter purchased two door frames, one of which was used for a new entry from the cloister to the upper south range.

Although new library accommodation was being discussed at this time, the move did not happen until 1913. The library’s move to the upper south range of the cloister was overseen by Henry Beeching, the Dean of Norwich from 1911 until 1919.

The story of the move is told largely from contemporary Chapter Minutes held in the Norwich Record Office and is also illustrated in books and pictures from the library.

At the exhibition, items from the cathedral’s collection will be on display, including books, a cross and a 16th-century doorframe.

The exhibition about the cathedral’s library is at the Hostry from Saturday until May 29.

A family fun-day is planned for May half-term. There will also be library tours followed by tea in the refectory and four evening lectures. More details will be posted on the cathedral’s website at www.cathedral.org.uk

emma.knights@archant.co.uk

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