Exeter College Library has notable special collections, dating from the 12th to the 20th centuries, all of which are freely available for research.
Books and manuscripts were acquired by purchase, gift and bequest from the earliest days of the College, and cover a wide range of subjects. As might be expected there are many volumes with a West Country connection, for example books printed at Tavistock Abbey in the 16th century, donations from West Country clergy, and the manuscript of a novel by the author of ‘Lorna Doone’. The college also holds material relating to the Pre-Raphaelite Movement including two copies of the Kelmscott Chaucer, one of which belonged to William Morris and one to Edward Burne-Jones.
The collection of early printed books includes 75 incunables (books printed before 1500) and other rare works, some unique to Exeter College. There are also more than 200 manuscripts, 80 of which are medieval. Click here to access the catalogue of medieval manuscripts.
Consultation of the special collections is by appointment at the Special Collections Library in Cohen Quad, Walton Street.
Exeter College is pursuing a programme to digitize and make accessible its special collections. Among the items now digitally available are the 14th century Psalter of Humphrey de Bohun, which belonged to two English Queens, Elizabeth of York and Katherine of Aragon.
Other digitized items include MS 235, the teaching notes of John Prideaux, Rector of the College in the early 17th century; the only surviving copy of the 16th century “Tinners’ Charter”; and MS 186, a 14th century Italian manuscript copy of Suetonius’ The Twelve Caesars once owned by Petrarch and containing his marginal notes.