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A History of the Book in 20 Books from the Cathedral’s Collections

Books have played a central role in the life of Canterbury Cathedral since its foundation. Books were brought to Canterbury with the mission of St Augustine in 597AD; the St Augustine Gospels, now held by Corpus Christi College in Cambridge, is thought to have been one of them. Both the Cathedral Priory and St Augustine’s Abbey became centres of book production in the Middle Ages. The monks of both religious houses spent much of their time in study, and the monasteries built up very extensive libraries. After the Reformation, the Cathedral continued to be a centre of scholarship and learning.

The collections of the Cathedral Archives and Library are ideally placed to tell the story of the book in the West, starting with the arrival of St Augustine and the development of monasticism, and continuing right to the present day. This series, launched on World Book Day 2021, aims to tell some of that story.

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