Discover the History of Lichfield Cathedral
Published on: Thu, 28/04/2022 - 12:59
Discover one of Lichfield Cathedral’s best kept secrets.
Tucked away 35 steps up a spiral staircase above the unique two storey Chapter House is a world
straight out of a Harry Potter novel.
Housed there is a magnificent collection of early printed books and hand copied manuscripts in a
wonderful 13th century space with its medieval floor tiles and coloured armorial glass moved from
the Lady Chapel, when the glass there was replaced.
The collection was the gift of Frances Seymour of Drayton Bassett who gave her late husband’s library
to the cathedral in 1674 at her death. The size of the original bequest is not clear but we know we
have more than 400 books and manuscripts still with us.
Visitors can see behind the scenes of the Library and view some of treasures it stores on dedicated
Library Tours, being offered on eight Wednesdays and Saturdays throughout the year. The tour is not
to be missed and will last around 1.5 hours.
Cathedral librarian Clare Townsend commented “This is a great opportunity to see some of our most
treasured books and manuscripts from the cathedral library. This year we are showcasing items from
the library of William Seymour, 2nd duke of Somerset, gifted by his widow Frances in 1673, including
our illuminated copy of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.
There will also be two accessible tours on Wednesday 18 May and Wednesday 14 September at 10:30
designed for those unable to ascend the spiral staircase. Accessible tours will take place at ground
level in the Chapter House.
As the nights draw in, Lichfield Cathedral hosts two special Candlelit Library Tours (Friday 11
November and Tuesday 6 December at 19:30).
Tickets are £18 available through the cathedral website: www.lichfield-cathedral.org/tours