skip to content

In 1970 the Dean and Chapter of Peterborough Cathedral placed on long-term deposit at the University Library all the books in their Cathedral Library which were printed before 1800. The Cathedral Library was founded in 1672, and most of the books now deposited at Cambridge had been received by it by the early 1740s, mostly as donations from the local clergy. By far the most important donor was White Kennett, Bishop of Peterborough from 1718 to 1728. He had a special interest in English history, especially ecclesiastical history, and to aid students of this subject he formed a special collection of early English printed books, which, though at first kept separate, was later incorporated in the Cathedral Library. As a result of this special interest of Kennett's, the great strength of the collection deposited at Cambridge is in English books printed before 1641, of which there are about 2,400. There is also a rich collection of English pamphlets of the 1640s, but the period after 1650 is less well represented. There are also many early books, on various subjects, printed in continental Europe; the collection includes a total of 60 incunabula, mainly continental.

All items are now catalogued on iDiscover. A printed catalogue of the collection is also available, compiled as far as possible from entries prepared for the Guardbook Catalogue, with an introduction summarising the history of the collection. 

References and further reading:

  • Hall, J. J. (Ed.). Peterborough Cathedral Library: a catalogue of books printed before 1800 and now on deposit in Cambridge University Library. Cambridge, 1986. B196.13