While York Minster is home to the largest cathedral library in England, not all of the collections it houses are owned by the Chapter of York.
Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, many of Yorkshire's surrounding parishes deposited their own book collections into the Minster Library for safekeeping, as they did not have the space or necessary environmental conditions required to safely and securely care for their books. These collections provide a fascinating insight into the interests and reading habits of not just clergymen, but also their parishioners.
Many parishes benefited from large collection donations from local noblemen or prominent figures, which often held unexpected treasures and items not usually associated with religious libraries. For example, James Davis's donation to Riccall Vicarage Library in 1886 contains a large collection of travel literature exploring locations as far afield as Algeria, Iceland and Brazil, as well as those closer to home. Collections such as these would have often been accessible to parishioners and some view parish libraries as the informal predecessors to the public libraries of today.
|Some of the Riccall travel books|
|The surviving volumes of the Bubwith collection|
|Slashed page in the Stainton missale|
|Page bearing Margaret Hoby's handwriting, Hackness collection|
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