From Monday 23 January 2023

Bound to Impress, the latest exhibition to open in the Mappa Mundi & Chained Library, 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.

An open book with handwritten script on the left hand page and illustrations on the right. There is a chain attached to the spine of the book

The Hereford Gospels

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 from Monday 23 January to Saturday 22 April 2023. The exhibition is open from Monday to Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm and admission charges apply.

Please note that due to essential works taking place in the Mappa Mundi & Chained Library, areas of the exhibition may be closed to the public at points - for more details click here.