Abingdon Parish Library

The collection consists of the chained library from the Church of St Helen, Abingdon, Oxfordshire (formerly Berkshire). It was founded about 1618, possibly the gift of Laurence Stevenson (died 1623-4).

The contents are usually reckoned as 35 works in 12 volumes, but Abingdon 6 and 7 are almost certainly an edition of A collection of cases and other discourses, lately written to recover dissenters, lacking the general titlepages. All are 17th century English, theological and ecclesiastical, and there are 7 STC and 28 Wing items.

Many items are in poor condition, and most are imperfect to some extent. W. Blades noted their bad condition in Books in chains (1892), p29-30, having been placed in an aisle beneath a defective roof, and listed 11 items. B.H. Streeter recorded 11 volumes in glass cases, in poor condition, in The chained library (1931), p290. The books have been cleaned, treated and boxed, but no comprehensive restoration has been undertaken. Some chains remain.

The library was transferred to the University of Reading Library, via the Bodleian Library, on permanent deposit, June 1962. Two Bibles, one with chains, remained in the church.

[Image, right, is of a chained library, at Wootton Wawen, Warwickshire]

More information

  • A handlist is available at the Special Collections Service
  • Directory of parochial libraries: England and Wales. Rev. ed., Bibliographical Society, 2004

church history & theology printed books (pre-1850) abingdon parish

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