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Medieval Libraries and Manuscripts

Monastery Libraries

Recesses such as these were developed in Cistercian houses into a small square room[Pg 24] without a window, and but little larger than an ordinary cupboard. In the plans of Clairvaux and Kirkstall this room is placed between the chapter-house and the transept of the church; and similar rooms, in similar situations, have been found at Fountains, Beaulieu, Tintern, Netley, etc. The catalogue, made 1396, of the Cistercian Abbey at Meaux in Holderness, now totally destroyed, gives us a glimpse of the internal arrangement of one of these rooms. The books were placed on shelves against the walls, and even over the door. Again, the catalogue of the House of White Canons at Titchfield in Hampshire, dated 1400, shews that the books were kept in a small room, on shelves there called columpnæ, set against the walls. It is obvious that no study could have gone forward in such places as these; they must have been intended for security only, and to replace the wooden presses used elsewhere.

Next: 15th Century Libraries

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