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Acquisitions & Donations

Since the foundation of St John's College in 1511, its Library has owed much to generations of generous benefactors. Bishop John Fisher, one of the principal founders of the College, gave several books of theology and canon law to fill the infant Library's empty shelves, and a succession of benefactors, great and small, followed suit with gifts of books or money. The magnificent Old Library building would not have existed without the generosity of members of the College, Bishop John Williams chief among them. In the 1630s the College embarked upon an appeal to fill its shelves, sending out a Latin letter to members past and present.

We have a chest. It is in your power that we may call it a library. Oh how great is this, our empty space! Such a venerable home, yet so few inhabitants. How wonderful it would be to expel the cobwebs. How worthy it would be for you to fit a suitable nut to this shell.


The appeal worked and the Library's shelves quickly filled. Today the flowery Latin may have gone but the generosity of members of the College and others means that we continue to receive 'suitable nuts' to add to our existing treasures. This webpage celebrates recent acquisitions, which continue to ensure that our Special Collections are very special indeed.

New Acquisitions & Donations

Stourbridge fair, held annually in late August and September in a field near Barnwell Abbey outside Cambridge, was one of the great medieval fairs of Europe and was run by the University from 1589. This delightfully bawdy pamphlet tells of...

The Library is extremely fortunate to have received this highly significant volume through the generosity of Mr Fenwick-Smith, a member of the College. The volume, which has been placed in the Upper Library, contains five printed works, of...