Collections

Abbey Library

The Abbey has a small library of approximately 300 rare books.  It is housed at Wells Cathedral Library.  Visitors are welcome.  Please make an appointment with the Librarian of Wells Cathedral.

Contact Details
Kevin Spears, Librarian
Wells Cathedral, Cathedral Green, Wells, BA5 2UE
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 01749 674483

A brief history of Bath Abbey Library

When Bath Abbey was restored and worship began again in 1616, Bishop Lake donated two books and so began to re-establish the library.  There is a Benefactors’ Book listing all the books donated or of money given to purchase books, and it contains the names of many well-known Bath citizens. The collection comprises mainly 16th and 17th century publications. The subject content of the books is predominantly religious with sermons and Bible commentaries being typical. However, three famous physicians – Drs Thomas Guidott, Edward Greaves and Joseph Glanville – gave early medical books and there are other items on antiquarian, historical, linguistic and travel topics. The oldest book in the collection is a prized 1493 “Golden Legend” printed by Wynkyn de Worde using Caxton’s original typesetting.

The largest donation was made by Bishop Thomas Ken who died in 1711. He gave his foreign language books, many of them collected during his travels in France, Italy and Spain. These include a 1543 copy of Euclid’s writing on geometry and a 1623 first edition of Galileo’s Il Saggiatore.

A Bath Abbey Library Book

Archaeology

Finds from archaeological digs including small objects, fragments of pottery, bone, and building materials.

An archaeologist digging in a trench

An archaeologist digging in a trench

A fragment of marble, shaped in a roll

A fragment of marble, shaped in a roll

Fragments of historic floor tiles

Fragments of historic floor tiles