Canterbury Cathedral Archives and Library

The Cathedral Archives and Library hold a fantastic and varied range of historic collections dating from the late 8th century up to the modern day. You’ll need to book an appointment to see material: the Reading Room is open for researchers on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

If you’re unsure about something then please do drop them an email! They love welcoming students, and know that the first time visiting an archive can seem scary – if you have any questions (no matter how small!) about visiting or using the collections they’d be very pleased to help. The email for all enquiries and bookings is:

Some highlights for Drama students are:

  • Early Modern drama – There are some fantastic resources for Early Modern drama, including rare surviving play quartos from 1594 to 1605, a Shakespeare second folio (with annotations!), and works by Jonson, Kyd, Marston, and Aphra Behn.
  • 20th Century drama – The Cathedral holds records relating to modern performances of plays associated with the Cathedral and Canterbury, including:
    • Laurence Binyon’s The Young King – Set designs. (1930s)
    • Lord Alfred Tennyson’s Becket – Costume designs, photographs from 1932 performance. (1932-1933)
    • S. Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral – prompt book, costume designs, and photographs of the 1935, 1964, and 1970 performances. (1935-1970)
    • Dorothy L Sayers’s The Zeal of Thy House – Costume designs. (c.1949)
    • Laurie Lee’s Peasants’ Priest – Photographs of performance. (1947)
    • Edward Percy’s The Enduring Stones (A mime play, performed in the ruins of St Augustine’s Abbey) – Photographs of performance. (1951)

History of Art students will very likely find themselves interested in the range of religious and theological art and exhibitions on display in the Cathedral, dating from the Middle Ages through to modern day.

If you find yourself wanting to look further into these, then the Cathedral Archives and Library hold a rich range of secondary source material for much of the art seen around the Cathedral, including:

  • The armorial bosses in the Great Cloister Roof
  • The ancient and modern stained glass
  • Altarpieces
  • The St Gabriel’s Chapel 12th century wall paintings, and the Legend of St. Eustace wall painting (c.1480)
  • Modern art installations and exhibitions at the Cathedral, such as ‘Under an equal sky’ (2019), ‘Houses of God’ (2008), and ‘Stamping uncertainty’ (2004).

You can explore holdings using the Cathedral Archives catalogue, and the Cathedral Library’s holdings through LibrarySearch.

To find out more, visit the Cathedral Archives and Library website.