History & Learning » The Cathedral Library

The Cathedral Library

The Cathedral Library

Carlisle Cathedral library is an historic library of over 8,000 volumes. The medieval library was lost and probably destroyed in the Commonwealth period and the few remaining volumes were scattered. None remain in the present library, although the library subsequently acquired medieval manuscripts from elsewhere. The library was re-founded in 1691 with the donation of the library of Canon Henry Hutton by Canon Arthur Savage. Canon Hutton had been a Canon of the Cathedral until he was ejected under the Commonwealth, and died before the Restoration of 1660. He was a patristic scholar and his library consisted mainly of volumes by patristic writers published in sixteenth and seventeenth century editions. There are rare volumes amongst them, some in contemporary bindings.

In 1702 Bishop Thomas Smith died and left his library to the Cathedral. He was a scholar and book collector with wide ranging interests, which are reflected in his books. His religious subjects range from Roman Missals to the works of Calvin, and although most of his books are theological, they also include classical Greek and Roman authors, history, law, literature, mathematics, and the sciences. His numerous volumes of tracts and sermons include many rare items. As a consequence of his book collecting, among English cathedral libraries only Canterbury and York have larger holdings of published works in English for the period 1641-1700.

On the twin foundation of the libraries of Henry Hutton and Thomas Smith the cathedral library has been built up. The fact that a number of the Deans and Canons of Carlisle had scientific interests is reflected in the fact that the library has the first 120 volumes of the transactions of the Royal Society.

Occasional library open days and exhibitions will be advertised via the news and events page.

You can find more information about Carlisle Cathedral’s library collection by searching the following catalogues:

  • English Short Title Catalogue covers monographs and serial letterpress printed before 1801 in Britain, Ireland, the United States and overseas territories under British colonial rule.  The ESTC also includes material printed elsewhere which contains significant English text.
    • To search the ESTC: from the “Search by” drop-down list, select “library name” and enter “Carlisle Cathedral”.
  • COPAC covers books printed outside Great Britain and North America before 1701.

If you would like more information please contact the Library staff through the Cathedral Office.

Telephone: 01228 548151