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. 


Highlights of the collection:


Highlights of Ancient Library



‘The Great and the Good’ - A Seventeenth Century Mystery

The present exhibition in the Treasury is of fine seventeenth century engravings from books which were all given on 1 January 1631. In all 85 books were given by 37 prominent local men and women. The mystery is what prompted them to give books on the same day.

Was it just because Edmund Calamy, the lecturer at St Mary’s, who later became a popular preacher in London, inspired them to update the existing library which had been founded back in 1595?

Was there a political motive? Bury had only recently gained its charter and corporation and, being a very Protestant town, the councillors could have been concerned how they would be affected by the reactionary policies of Charles I, who had just established his personal rule, and the religious policies of William Laud. 17 councillors gave books, and there were many by Catholic authors. Were they trying to appease the powers that be?