The Ancient Library

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The Ancient Library was founded by Dr Miles Mosse in 1595 as a resource for clergy training. There are over 550 books, mainly printed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  The library, in a room over the north-west porch designed by Stephen Dykes Bower in 1960, has bookcases made by Leonard Goff in 2004.

Click here to see a list of the books in the library.
Click here to see the people who have donated books to the library or whose autographs appear in the books

More information about the editions held can be found by:

- searching for 'Bury St Edmunds CL' in the Incunabula Short Title Catalogue
- selecting 'search by' 'library name' and entering 'Bury St Edmunds Cathedral' in the English Short Title Catalogue
searching in COPAC. Click on 'Cathedral Libraries (Heritage Catalogue)' in 'Library' and in the drop box which then appears choose 'Bury St Edmunds Cathedral' in COPAC. Individual works can then be accessed by using its CLC number e.g. A116 

Articles about the Ancient Library can be found here

If you would like information about donors, pastedowns or marginalia, or would like to visit the library, please contact the librarian through the Cathedral Office on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 01284 748730. 


Seeing Red in the Cathedral Library

The present exhibition of books in the Treasury displays books which use the colour red. The six books each come from a different European country: Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland and England.

The earliest item is a leaf of a thirteenth century illuminated manuscript in a book given to St James’ Church when the library was founded by Miles Mosse in 1595.

Early printers attempted to produce books of the same quality as the manuscripts created by the scribes and illuminators of the time. Two fifteenth century volumes illustrate how they introduced colour. Euclid (1491) shows how they were able to print in red by making a second impression but Gerson (1483) shows how skilled craftsmen were still often used to paint the initial letters. 

The two church service books displayed demonstrate how the red ‘rubric’ gives the instructions for the next part of the ceremony and the Liber Sextus (1510) uses red for emphasis in the tables of Consanguinity and Affinity.

Seeing Red Website