Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Welcome to the project!

Welcome to the first post in this exciting new project blog! The project began in September 2011, when the first in-depth analysis of the Cwm Jesuit Library was started at Hereford Cathedral Library and Archives. 

The aim of the project is to analyse and contextualise the Cwm Jesuit Library collection, which was taken to Hereford Cathedral in early 1679 following its seizure at the Cwm, Llanrothal, Herefordshire, the headquarters of the territorial College of St Francis Xavier. This 'College' (an administrative term rather than an educational establishment) was an extensive missionary sub-division of the English Province of the Society of Jesus, covering the southern half of Wales, including Monmouthshire, as well as the English counties of Gloucester, Hereford and Somerset. The Cwm collection, which has never previously been analysed thoroughly, is one of only two surviving from all 14 missionary sub-divisions or provinces of the English Province of the Society of Jesus, and as such is an important seventeenth-century survival, which promises to throw important new light on early Jesuit missionary enterprise in South Wales and the Marches. 

This is a three-year joint project between Swansea University and Hereford Cathedral, funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and under the supervision of Professor Maurice Whitehead at Swansea University. The project will form the basis of a PhD thesis, which is expected to be submitted in September 2014. 

The Cwm Jesuit Library arrived at Hereford in late 1678/9 under the direction of Bishop Herbert Croft, when the Jesuit College of St Francis Xavier at the Cwm in Llanrothal near Hereford was raided as a reaction to the so-called but non-existent 'Popish Plot'. Initially, only around 100 books were thought to have survived, but recent research has discovered another 100 or so books believed to have come from the Cwm that had been stored elsewhere in Hereford Cathedral Library. This extended Cwm Library Collection of approximately 190 volumes has now been fully catalogued, and is available to search online via the library website: http://www.herefordcathedral.org/library-and-archives/online-catalogue  

Bishop Herbert Croft described the books brought from the Cwm as "Divinity books and others in Folio and Quarto and many other lesser books, several horse loads ... many whereof are written by the principal learned Jesuits ... fifteen or sixteen several printed books containing the Decrees of the several Congregations of that Society [of Jesus] at Rome ... several books lately written and printed against the Protestant religion and many small Popish Catechisms printed and tyed up in a bundle; ... some Welsh Popish books lately written and some Popish manuscripts fairly and lately written ...  

[Herbert Croft, A short narrative of the discovery of a college of Jesuits at a place called the Come in the county of Hereford... (London: Printed by TN for Charles Harper at the Flower de luce against St Dunstan’s Church in Fleetstreet, 1679), Hereford Cathedral Library and Archives, reference H.P.271.5]

As the project progresses, it is hoped that much more will be discovered about the provenance of these books, their printers and booksellers, and of course the role of the Jesuits and the Cwm as part of the maintenance and survival of the recusant community in south Wales and the Marches in this crucial period of history.  

All feedback, comments and questions are always welcomed, and we hope you enjoy following the development of this fascinating research project. Thanks for your time! 


  1. Hello Hannah
    What an exciting project! I will certainly be following closely & I am looking forward to more posts. Lots of luck with this interesting & important project. God bless you.

  2. Hello again Hannah
    I just popped back to tell you that I have just done a short post about this blog & I have included a link to it. I hope you get lots of visitors. God bless you.

  3. Hannah: I see there was a review in the TLS that looked at marginal annotations in a scholar's library and what can be told from the marks. They call his system a "memory theater out of paper"!
    The book reviewed was I Have always loved the Holy Tongue: Isaac Casaubon, the Jews and a fogotten chapter in Renaissance scholarship by Anthony Grafton and Joanna Weinberg, Harvard, and it was in TLS 6.1.12 p.24. They say an Ann Blair has also written on "the history of making marks in books".
    Good luck with the project.
    Philip Weaver

    1. Hi Philip,

      Apologies I have only just noticed your comments on this post - many thanks for these very helpful suggestions, I am going to look for both of these items immediately!

      Thanks again,


  4. Hannah, am trying to find Father David Lewis' book on Confession.Have you come across it, by any chance?