The Wren Library
The Wren Library is a must-see part of Cambridge. Unfortunately at present, it is closed due to COVID19, so allow me to give you something to look forward to when it reopens again. The Wren Library has stunning architecture and is full of priceless pieces of the past. The goal is to visit it along the grounds of Trinity College. However, if you can’t visit it you will always be able to admire this gorgeous sight from the River Cam onboard a Punting tour.
A Little Bit of History of Wren Library
The Wren Library is situated in Trinity College, and was designed by Christoper Wren.
When the Minister of Trinity College, Isaac Barrow, began looking for an architect he immediately turned to his friend Christopher Wren. Wren has recently designed Pembrooke College and Emmanuel College chapels, and as they were friends, Barrow had Wren working for him free of charge.
Wren originally designed 2 libraries, one was a circular domed building and the second was a longer, rectangular-shaped building. Once Barrow had selected the second option a problem immediately arose; funding.
In 1676 Barrow appealed to the public odonate so Trinity could build this prestigious place. Construction began in 1676 and was finished in 1695, taking 19 years to finish, and throughout the years the college raised £11,000 of the total £16,425 through donations. Including a £40 donation from Sir Isaac Newton.
Wren Library: Books, Manuscripts, & Archives
The Wren Library contains:
Over 70,000 books printed before 1820
The Rothschild collection of 18th century literature
The Capell collection of Shakespeariana
The Kessler collection of livres d’artistes
Manybooks by Sir Isaac Newton, including the Principia Mathematica with his handwritten annotations
Bertrand Rusel’s, The Implications of H-Bombing
- A. Milne’s, Winnie the Pooh
The Papers of R. A. Butler
The Papers of Ludwig Wittgenstein
And so many more!
Wren Library Archives:
The archives consist of records from the founding of Trinity College in 1546, when Trinity took possession of 2 medieval colleges lands and possessions., King’s Hall and Michaelhouse. Some of the records include:
- Estate records
- Domestic accounts
- Records of governance
- Admission records
The Wren Digital Library has been created in an attempt to provide an increase in access to medieval manuscripts. There are now over 850 manuscripts available online for public access and there is a new effort to also expand the digital library to include modern manuscripts and a selection of printed books.
The highlights of the collection that are now available are as follows:
Eadwine Psalter of Christ Church, Canterbury (12th century)
Trinity Apocalypse (13th century)
Romance of Alexander (13th century)
Piers Plowman Manuscript (14th Century)
Notebook of Isaac Newton
Principia Mathematica – Newton’s own copy
Visiting the Library
The Wren Library is currently closed to the general public until further notice due to Covid-19, but they do offer an online virtual tour if you can’t wait for the re-opening.
The Wren Library has re-opened as a reading room, and by going on their website you can book a time slot to go and read in the library. For more information head over to their website.
Personally think visiting the Wren Library is a must when you visit Cambridge and I cannot wait until it reopens. Until then you can view this stunning piece of architecture from the river, so come and book a punting tour with us!