Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Catalogues, Castles and Jesuit Colleges

The last few weeks have been extremely busy in the Cwm Project. The main focus of my work at Hereford Cathedral Library has been trying to establish exactly what arrived at Hereford from the Cwm in 1678/9, when this was first treated as a distinct collection, and what (if any) records survive of catalogues, or lists, or any other notes of the books and papers within the collection. 

Currently, after many hours of sifting through boxes of notes, drafts, works in progress and lists compiled by several previous librarians at the Cathedral, still no list of what came from the Cwm to the Cathedral seems to have been made prior to Geraint Bowen's article 'The Jesuit Library in Hereford Cathedral' published in Bulletin of the Association of British Theological and Philosophical Libraries, Vol 20 (1965) and Vol 21 (1965), pp.13-34 and pp.17-27 respectively.

I have been focusing on the work of three librarians in particular, who all made an enormous difference to the way the library at Hereford was organised, looked after and enabled the survival of many of the precious items within the library that would otherwise have been lost. Francis Tebbs Havergal (1830-1890) who was appointed Deputy Librarian in 1854, F C Morgan (1878-1978) who started voluntarily working at the Cathedral Library after his retirement in 1945 and his daughter Penelope E Morgan (1916-1990) who began helping her father with his work at the Cathedral Library after her retirement in 1953: both were appointed Honorary Librarian in recognition of their work. All three worked tirelessly to catalogue and list the many books (in several locations before the lovely current building was extended and opened in 1996) and to reorganise the whole function of the library as a working research repository. Penelope Morgan in particular has been of the most relevant value to my work, especially her Retrospective Accession Register (compiled c.1985) which details sources and donors of books where known, and lists all the books in the chronological order that they were received into the library.

However, as I still have not been able to locate a list or a catalogue of the Cwm collection in any of these papers, the next stage of this part of my research is to pick a few sample books that we now know are definitely from the Cwm and follow them through the several catalogues of the library to try and piece together the story of the Cwm books during their time at Hereford Cathedral. Existing catalogues are:

  1. Donors Book, compiled from 1611 
  2. c.1718 catalogue
  3. 1745 catalogue
  4. 1749 catalogue
  5. 1780 catalogue
  6. 1857 catalogue
  7. Card catalogue, started c.1880
  8. Slip catalogues, started c.1950
  9. Online catalogue

I  have also been able to go and visit several key locations to the project in the last few weeks. I was invited to join Professor Maurice Whitehead and his third year undergraduate students from Swansea University on their visit to Raglan Castle and the Cwm as part of their work for the module entitled 'From Fear to Freedom: Catholics and the State, 1559-1829' at Swansea University:

The day's adventures began in Raglan Castle, originally held by the Herbert family until the marriage of Elizabeth Herbert and Charles Somerset (1st Earl of Worcester) in 1492, when it passed into the Somerset family, where it remained until the castle's surrender on 19th August 1646, during the Civil War. The Somerset family were staunch supporters of the recusant community after the Reformation, and used their enormous wealth and power to ensure the survival of the recusant community, and indeed, the Catholic faith, in the Monnow Valley and surrounding areas.

Several members of the Somerset family were of particular importance to the recusant cause, and supported and maintained the local recusant community from their base at Raglan. Key members of the family were Sir Edward Somerset (1550-1628), fourth Earl of Worcester; his daughter Lady Frances Somerset (d.c.1632) and her husband William Morgan of Llantarnam (d.c.1633), as well as their son Sir Edward Morgan (d.1653), first Baronet Llantarnam. The vast network of recusant connections and support from both the Somerset and the Morgan family continued to foster the survival of the Catholic community in the Marches for many generations and above all secure financial assistance in the form of an annual income that allowed the College of St Francis Xavier to be officially set up by 1622.

Our field trip was rounded up by a visit to the Cwm itself, now privately owned by a very welcoming couple who were all too eager to show us around. We timed the visit very well in terms of the weather, and were lucky enough to be able to eat our lunch in their lovely garden, looking at the amazing view and admiring the Jesuits choice of location in the Monnow Valley!

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