Imagine being able to search through medieval manuscripts to select illustrations of monsters as part of your job. The Special Collections Librarian, Claire Arrand, was notified about the Monsters Conference to be held at Bishop Grosseteste University (BGU) in June and contacted by Renee Ward, a Senior Lecturer in Medieval Literature at the University of Lincoln, to contribute to Lincoln as Medieval Classroom week in March for our English and History students. This was a fantastic opportunity to showcase some of the monsters featured in Lincoln Cathedral Library.
The Cathedral is also holding a Monster exhibition using the rare books as well as manuscripts. The exhibition runs from the 1st of June until the 31st of July. Details of this are at https://lincolncathedral.com/forthcoming-events/summer-exhibition-here-be-monsters/
The library has two small reading rooms, one in Exchequergate Arch opposite the main entrance to the Cathedral and the other in the relatively modern 1914 library extension built adjoining the Wren Library.
Claire spends two days per week based in Exchequer Gate near the Cathedral which is assisting the Cathedral Librarian looking after the medieval manuscripts, rare book, archival and modern reference items within the collection.
Access to the images has been possible due to the work done by Joan Panton, one of the cathedral’s many volunteers. Joan has spent the last 4 years steadily working her way through the manuscripts page by page, to draw up a document, the Manuscript Illustrations Project detailing the illustrations, marginalia, doodles, damage and repair.
This document is currently 306 pages long and following a word search in December for monster, grotesque, creature, dragon and devil it was whittled down to 10 pages. Each folio was consulted and photographs were taken of the best images. Some were discarded due to being too faint, too ‘normal’, on a page where the creases prevented a good photo, or the binding was too tight to capture the full image.
For more information about the Cathedral Libraries and the collections, visit the website at https://lincolncathedral.com/education-learning/the-library/