News | January 25, 2023

Historic Cathedral Bookbindings Go On Display

Hereford Cathedral

Bound to Impress, the latest exhibition to open in the Mappa Mundi & Chained Library at Hereford Cathedral celebrates the bookbindings within the cathedral’s historic collections.

The exhibition shows a selection of remarkable bindings drawn from the Cathedral's historic collections, from books made locally in the 12th century to expensive and elaborate 19th-century luxury bindings.

Bound to Impress will also feature the oldest item in the library, the 8th century Hereford Gospels. The only pre-1055 book within the cathedral features wonderful examples of heavy Celtic influence and insular script. Other highlights of the exhibition include a small but beautiful volume of the Bible in red and gold with gilt edges which was printed in 1653 by John Field and the 17th century accounts of Hereford bookbinder John Cooper who is believed to have worked on the Hereford Gospels and a number of other medieval manuscripts.

Jennifer Dumbelton, Cathedral Librarian, says: “Whether simple or detailed, bookbindings give us valuable information and can tell us about where they were made, who owned them and how they were used. The highly skilled craftsmanship used in their construction and decoration reflects the tastes and technical innovations of their times. We are really looking forward to sharing this exhibition which will give visitors the chance to delve deeper into the books which form our collections.”

Bound To Impress is on display within Mappa Mundi and Chained Library Exhibition until April 22, 2023. The exhibition is open from Monday to Saturday, 10am-5pm and admission charges apply.

An online talk discussing Hereford Cathedral and its bookbindings

Following the annual closure for conservation and cleaning, the team from Hereford Cathedral will bring the history of some of the books and bound manuscripts to your home in this special online event on January 26.

Hosted by Cathedral Librarian Jennifer Dumbelton, Archivist Elizabeth Semper O’Keefe, and independent bookbinder and conservator Arthur Green of Green’s Books, the talk will introduce some of the basic terminology of bookbinding and discuss who might have been producing these books, as well as talking about some fabulous quirks of the Cathedral’s collection. There will be opportunity for a Q&A at the end of the talk.

This event will take place on Zoom and tickets cost £5. Click here to purchase tickets.