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Special Collections

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Our Collaboration

In 2014 the Appointment of a Special Collections Librarian (SCL) at the University of Lincoln was a new post designed with the intent of opening up Lincoln Cathedral Library as a resource for students and academics. This continuing collaboration has built on the existing relationship to enhance teaching and learning in the Wren Library, Cathedral Reading Room and Exchequer Gate. 

The SCL currently works in Exchequer Gate on Mondays and Tuesdays and can facilitate group visits (maximum 10), teaching sessions and individual study for University of Lincoln staff and students throughout the week.

Please email the Special Collections Librarian to organise a visit. 


Exchequer Gate at Lincoln Cathedral

Image: Exchequer Gate at Lincoln Cathedral

Access to Cathedral Libraries

Access to rare books and manuscripts must be accompanied by an academic referral, as handling is restricted to academic research due to their fragility.

For students and staff of the University of Lincoln access can also be arranged via the Special Collections Librarian.

Members of the public may access the archival and modern reference collection.

Access Lincoln Cathedral Library Catalogue

We recommend using the Advanced Search as the general Search box only searches text fields.

Researchers and Academics

If you find something on the Cathedral Library Catalogue you wish to see, please contact the Special Collections Librarian to arrange a time when you can visit the collection.

As the collection holds uncatalogued material, if you do not find anything pertinent it is worth contacting the SCL with the subject of your dissertation material, as there could be useful primary and secondary sources.

The Cathedral Libraries

The Cathedral Libraries consist of the Medieval Library the Wren Library, the Reading Room in the Cathedral and Exchequer Gate.


 The 15th Century Medieval Library

The Medieval Library was completed in 1422 as a chained library to house the Cathedral’s manuscripts. Only 39 books survive of the original 136 theological material that was listed around February 1148, but the collection has since grown with many donations. Manuscripts from the collection are usually displayed from April to October, such as Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and the Thornton Manuscript. 


Sketch of Medieval Library at Lincoln Cathedral

Image: Sketch of the 15th Century Medieval Library

 The 17th Century Wren Library

The Wren Library was completed in 1676 and holds approximately half of the Cathedral’s early printed books, many of which belonged to Dean Michael Honywood who paid for the building and design of the library. The collection includes 120 “incunabula” or, books printed before 1501. Honywood’s eclectic interests are reflected in the subjects of his books: history, geography, travel, science, nature, literature including poetry and music.


The 17th Century Wren Library at Lincoln Cathedral Image: Photograph of the 17th Century Wren Library

Cathedral Library Catalogue

The catalogue contains details of the items held within the Cathedral’s various collections including manuscripts, early printed books and modern reference books, as well as Cathedral objects such as church plate and vestments.

Lincoln Cathedral's collection can be searched via their Online Catalogue. The modern reference collection is available to staff, students and members of the public.

 Medieval Manuscripts 

10th to early 16th century, including bibles, prayerbooks and works of literary importance.

 Rare Books 

The Library has around 10,000 rare books printed before 1801. The wide range of subjects covered by these books includes volumes in many different languages including Latin, Greek, French, German, Italian, Dutch, as well as English.

 Modern Reference 

1801 to date. This collection covers the history of the Cathedral and Diocese of Lincoln, ecclesiastical history and biography, church and cathedral art and architecture, historical and architectural journals, bibliographical and biographical reference books but also unexpected material such as William Blake’s Jerusalem and Lincoln’s James Usher’s ‘An art collector's treasures illustrated and described by himself...’. 

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Address: Minster Yard, Lincoln, LN2 1PX

Telephone: 01522 561600


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