Library Collections | Salisbury Cathedral

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Old Sarum Manuscript Book

This is one of approximately 60 books created in the scriptorium at the Cathedral's original site of Old Sarum. These books would have been utilitarian, working books for the Cathedral's own day to day use and therefore have limited decoration and illumination. These books mainly date from the 12th and early 13th centuries and are written on vellum with an iron gall ink.

The Salisbury Psalter

This Psalter commonly referred to as 'The Salisbury Pslater' dates to the 10th century and would not therefore have been created at the Cathedral itself but would have been acquired later in the Cathedral's history. The volume starts with a calendar and table of festivals etc followed by Psalm 151, the Canticles, Te Deum, Gloria in Excelcis, Lord's Prayer, Apostles' Creed and Litany. The main text is in Latin but the smaller interlined text is Anglo-Saxon. The initial letters are decorated with dragons, signs of the zodiac and birds. The prevailing colour is a dusky red but with also green and yellow. Some of the initial letters have been cut out by souvenir hunters.

An example of an incunabula.

This book by Thomas Aquinas is titled Super Quarto Libro Sententiarum and was published in Venice in 1481. Books printed before 1501 in Europe are often referred to as incunabula from the Latin for 'cradle' indicating the earliest stage of printing. The type and style of the text was modelled on handwritten scripts.

A volume from Isaak Walton's Library

Izaak Walton (c1594-1683) is best known as the author of 'The Compleat Angler'. He also wrote a number of short biographies that have been collected under the title of 'Walton's Lives'. The Cathedral Library holds a small number of books from Walton's own personal library of which this is one. The book is 'Dangerous positions and proceedings published and practised under pretence of Reformation, and for the Presbyterial Discipline' by Richard Bancroft, Archbishop of Canterbury, published in London, 1593. Archbishop Bancroft (1544-1610) was the chief overseer of the production of the King James Bible.

Salisbury Cathedral Chapter House in Dodsworth

This illustration is one of a number of illustrations of the Cathedral from 'An Historical Account of the Episcopal See, and Cathedral Church of Sarum or Salisbury' by William Dodsworth and published in 1814.

John Newton's Institutio Mathematica published in London in 1654

The Library collection, perhaps surprisingly, contains many books on mathematical, scientific and medicinal subjects.

An illustration from John Evelyn's 'Sylva, or a Discourse of Forest Trees', published in 1670.

John Evelyn was a diarist, contemporary with Samuel Pepys in the seventeenth century. John Evelyn's 'Sylva' also contains an appendix concerning the cultivation of fruit trees in relation to cider. 'Sylva' is recognised as one of the most influential texts on forestry ever published.