Gloucester Cathedral's Monastic Library

Archives & Library

A hidden space with a story to tell

Located above the Treasury and the Song School, the Library is a hidden space that tells a fascinating story about the Cathedral we know today. It is believed to have been built between 1400 and 1450 to house the manuscripts belonging to the Abbey of St Peter, but these manuscripts were dispersed and largely lost at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. A year later in 1541, the Library took on a new life as King’s School's first classroom, a purpose it continued to serve until 1849 when it was badly damaged by fire. The school found new accommodation on the Cathedral site (now the Ivor Gurney Hall) and the library was restored and returned to its original function in 1858.

Today, we welcome visitors to the library for a wide range of reasons including for research and guided tours. Scroll down this page to find out more or click here.

The library is home to a remarkable collection of over 6000 books and manuscripts, including a mix of both secular and religious texts. Of particular note are:

The ‘Historia Monasterii Gloucestriae’ (one of only three surviving copies of a manuscript of the 14th century history of the Abbey)

-  A 1535 Coverdale Bible that was once in the possession of Oliver Cromwell

-  A collection of 16th and 17th century Hebrew books from the library of John Seldon

-  Several medieval texts

Nearly all of the printed works are available and more accessible in major academic libraries.

Photo: Kevin Lewis

The Archives

Within the Archives we hold a small amount of material from the medieval Abbey of St Peter. The majority of our collection is the later administrative records of the Dean and Chapter of Gloucester, including minutes, accounts, architects' records and photographs. The estate records of the latter are deposited with Gloucestershire Archives. We also have an exceptional collection of printed and archive material relating to the Three Choirs Festivals.

There are plenty of fun, quirky items in the archives - this is a page from an 18th century encyclopaedia

If you have an enquiry about the Archives & Library, please contact our Archivist by calling 01452 229818 or send an email using the button below.