Tuesday, 8 July 2014

St Paul's Cathedral Library

The library at St. Paul's was one of the visits I was most looking forward to on this trip. I had read many of the blogs from last years' students and they all mentioned how amazing St. Paul's Cathedral library was.  This was our afternoon visit, after the Barbican. We met on the steps of St. Paul's for a group picture, then headed inside to meet with Joseph Wisdom, the librarian. Mr. Wisdom was a wonderful guide, and we could all tell how much he loved his job and how much he loved working in such a beautiful and historic place.  He took us up a long flight of stairs to the floor above the main part of the cathedral. It definitely felt as if we were in an attic of some sort, but the treasures that Mr. Wisdom had stored up there were just amazing.

We were told that the cathedral was meant to have had two libraries when it was first built, and before he took us to the actual library, Mr. Wisdom showed us the room where the other library was to have been built. In this room was a large model of what Christopher Wren, the architect of St. Paul's Cathedral, envisioned for the cathedral.
"Wren's Great Model, 1673-74, in the Trophy Room"
 After we saw the room that was supposed to have been another library, Mr. Wisdom took us to see the actual library.  It was absolutely gorgeous.  Here's another picture from the St. Paul's library, as we weren't allowed to take pictures inside:
St. Paul's Cathedral Library
According to the library's website, most of the original materials in the library were destroyed in the Great Fire of London, and in order to replenish the library, the commissioners for rebuilding the cathedral bought individual books, collections, and sometimes even entire libraries from widows of deceased clergy.  Most of the books that we saw in the library are original to the library's replenishing.

Mr Wisdom told us that the library has about 150 users a year, as it is technically the private library of the Dean of Chapter. However, as Mr. Wisdom told us, it is open to anyone who has a good reason to use it.  

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