VISITORS will have a chance to discover more about what lies inside Salisbury Cathedral’s library.

The library is celebrating the completion of a National Heritage Lottery funded project which started in 2017.

A series of open afternoons and events are being held to share some of the information and items discovered during the project, as well as a few ‘behind the scenes’ details.

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Picture by Ash Mills 

Open days

Beyond the Library Door - Discover Salisbury Cathedral Library runs from Monday October 25 to Friday 29, when the library will be open and free to visit between 1pm and 4pm daily.

There will also be a children’s book trail around the Cathedral.

During the project books from the cathedral’s collection of more than 10,000 volumes were fully catalogued for the very first time, including information on previous owners, inscriptions and bindings.

A group of volunteers also cleaned the books, removing decades of grime and dust.

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'Transformative' project

Cathedral archivist and head of the library, Emily Naish, said: “The aim of the project was to improve our knowledge about the collection, particularly of the things such as previous owners of books and the bindings and inscriptions.

"It was also to get the books in a better condition by cleaning them and trying to find ways of telling people more about what we have. A big part of that was the online catalogue so you can now browse books we have catalogued.”

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“It has had a really transformative effect for how we look after and manage the collection here because now we have a much better idea of what we’ve got,” added Emily, who said the collection featured books on a diverse range of subjects from music to health and gardening.

Library Day events

The end-of-project celebrations culminate in a ‘Library Day’ on Saturday October 30 when visitors can attend talks and find out more about what was discovered.

It starts at 11.15am with an illustrated talk in the Cathedral’s North Transept, describing the project and discussing a collection of books on the plague written in the 1600s, and the library’s 43 incunabula, or very early printed books, made before 1501.

The library will then be open to visitors from 12.30pm to 2pm.

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A second illustrated talk at 2.15pm in the North Transept explores special features found in some of the library books, from coloured printing to decorative bindings, music to maps, and even a squashed mouse, trapped in the pages of a Latin textbook by choristers over 200 years ago.

Between 3.15pm to 4.30pm there is another opportunity to visit the library, and throughout the day children (and adults) can try calligraphy and bookmark making.

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It is a chance to see some of the Library’s books up close and to chat to the Library volunteers.

Sited above the East Cloisters, the library is reached via 37 uneven stone spiral steps.

Emily says these events are a “special opportunity” for visitors to see the library and the “eclectic mix” of books it houses.

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No booking is required for the talks or to visit the library when it is open, however, due to restricted numbers at any one time in the library, visitors may need to queue at busy times.



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