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Cottonian Collection Library

Around 2000 volumes covering all manner of subject matter from history and archaeology, literature and the arts.

Illustrated book of hours showing George and the Dragon

Illuminated drawing of George and the Dragon, from a Book of Hours

The Library includes some two thousand or so volumes, mostly dating from the period of Charles Rogers (1711-1784), but also incorporating the legacy of William Townson (1682-1740) and the library established by his father Robert during the 17th century. In addition there are some later acquisitions representing contributions by all three Cottons, especially from William Cotton III (1794-1863) of Ivybridge.

A large part of the library is housed in a series of glazed bookcases, which Rogers had commissioned. Mostly the volumes are bound in vellum or leather and are decorated with intricate gilt designs of the period.

The content of the library reflects the taste and interests of an 18th century connoisseur, as might be expected of a collector such as Rogers. They cover many subjects and themes, including many English and historical writings, philosophy, history, literature, travel, archaeology and the arts. Many of the books are illustrated and there are medieval illuminated Books of Hours and some early printed books.

Access the library online

Please note that not all records are currently complete to the same standard. If there are any errors, please get in touch with us.

To view a selection of illustrations from some of the most colourful or interesting volumes, please refer to the links and documents below.

CB1119 – ‘Plante de Surin et de l’Europe. Tom I et II’ by Maria Sibylla Merian.

Illustrated Books [339KB]

Books of Hours [459KB]