Monday, 14 November 2011

The Cwm Collection continues to expand!

Initially, only 107 volumes were thought to have survived from the 1679 raid of the Cwm, and these are described and listed by Dr Geraint Bowen in his two-part article ‘The Jesuit Library in Hereford Cathedral’, (Bulletin of the Association of British Theological and Philosophical Libraries, Vol 20 pp13-34 and Vol 21 pp17-27, 1965). A later addition to the list of books, published by Dr Bowen in The National Library of Wales Journal (Vol XXIII, 1983-4), noted that a further 41 volumes had been discovered at the Cathedral that were known to have formed part of the Cwm library due to their provenance and other marks. This made a total of 148 books now known to have survived from the Cwm.

Over the intervening years, several other books had been identified as also likely to have come from the Cwm, due to the provenance of the books (where identifiable), the subject matter and other factors. At the start of this project, September 2011, the list of books known or likely to have come from the Cwm stood at nearly 200.

As the Cathedral Library and Archives are also in the middle of digitising the catalogue for the Chained Library; and several of the latterly-identified Cwm books had come from the Chained Library, it was thought that the best approach would be to go through the books that have yet to be digitised and make a note of any that could also have come from the Cwm. Tessa and myself have spent the last few weeks working through the remaining books (see image) and have so far discovered another potential 50 books that may have come to the Cathedral from the raid on the Cwm in 1679. 

The examination of the chained books caused great interest amongst volunteers and visitors alike, with lots of interest in how the books were handled, how the chains worked, what was actually inside the books and how easy they were to read. Everyone was also very pleased to see that this wonderful old library was still very much a working library with lots to offer a researcher!

The 50 or so books identified by us so far have been broken down into the following categories:

  1. Books with names or inscriptions that are on existing Cwm books
  2. Books printed by, for or about the Society of Jesus; or those inscribed with ‘College St Francis Xavier’ or ‘SJ’ [Societatis Jesu]
  3. Books written or printed by authors or printers that are associated with existing Cwm books
  4. Books which need further investigation – these are not obviously related to the Cwm but cannot be ruled out yet due to subject matter, place of publication or inscriptions of the names of known recusants
 We still have several more shelves to go through, so yet more may be found – watch this space!