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Archives and Special Collections: Medieval and Early Modern Resources

Introduction

This LibGuide provides an overview of some of the items and collections held by the University of Exeter that date to the medieval and early modern period (in our collections, circa twelfth to eighteenth century). The boxes below describe items or collections relating to different centuries and contain links to the catalogues, through which you can explore the collections further. 

The resources highlighted in this guide have been identified using our catalogues, but are not exhaustive. You can search our archives catalogue and library catalogue with key word searches to identify further items of interest. More information on searching the catalogues can be found on the Search our Catalogues LibGuide. If you come across any other sources within our collections that you think should be included in this guide, we would be very pleased to hear about them.

Archives and rare books held by Special Collections are available to everyone. More information about accessing the collections can be found in our Visiting Heritage Collections LibGuide. Please note that there may be some restrictions on accessing and copying (including photography) material in the archives and books held by Special Collections in line with current data protection and copyright legislation. Always make sure to check the access conditions on the archive catalogue and email Special Collections before your visit for more information about specific restrictions.

12th-14th century resources

'De Homine' by Albertus Magnus, late 13th century manuscript [EUL MS 200]

Manuscripts in facsimile including a microfilm collection of Anglo-Saxon and Early English manuscripts [EUL MS 261]; a microfilm collection of medieval and renaissance manuscripts [EUL MS 273] and additional facsimiles in printed volumes, mostly in the Reserve Collection

15th century resources

                            Manuscripts from the collections of the Bridgettine nuns of Syon Abbey, including several illuminated manuscripts and fragments [EUL MS 262].

Printed books including books in the Devon Parish Libraries of Crediton, Ottery St Mary and Barnstaple, as well as further volumes from our Rare Books collection and Syon Abbey Library. Some of these contain marginal annotations, including manicules.

Highlights amongst the printed books are:

16th century resources

Manuscripts from the collections of the Bridgettine nuns of Syon Abbey [EUL MS 262 and EUL MS 262/add1-3]

Syon Abbey archive [EUL MS 389], comprising papers relating to the Bridgettine community's period in exile in the Low Countries, France and Portugal. These include correspondence with ecclesiastical authorities [EUL MS 389/ECC/1/1] and the 1557 Deed of Restoration signed by Cardinal Pole [EUL MS 389/CHAR/1/1]

Mariette family papers, comprising French historical papers relating to the Mariette family and connected families (such as the de Villeblin family), including wills, inventories, and other legal documents, copies of deeds, and private accounts,16th-19th century [EUL MS 36]

Deed relating to the will of John Green of Luton, 1555 [EUL MS 47b]

 

                            Accidētia ex Stābrigiana editione nuper recognita et castigata lima Roberti Whitintoni (1523) by John Stanbridge [Crediton Library 1523/STA]

The Rosary of Our Saviour (1526) by William Bonde [Syon Abbey 1526/BON]

The Pype of Perfection (1532) by Richard Whitforde [Syon Abbey 1532/WHI]

The woorkes of Geffrey Chaucer (1561) by Geoffrey Chaucer [Rare Books A 1561/CHA/X

Admonitio de superstitionibus magicis vitandis in gratiam sincerae religionis amantium (1575) by Nicholas Hemming [Dodderidge 1575/HEM]

Theatrum orbis terrarum (1575) by Abraham Ortelius [Dodderidge 1575/ORT/XX]

Atlas of the counties of England and Wales (1579-1590) by Christopher Saxton [Rare books B 1590/SAX/XX]

An Epistle of Comfort (1587) by Robert Southwell [Syon Abbey 1587/SOU]

Malleus Maleficarum (1588) by Heinrich Kramer [Baring-Gould Library 0495]

L'Historia Ecclesiastica della Rivoluzion d'Inghilterra (1594) by Girolamo Pollini, with manuscript annotations by Thomas Topcliffe, an interrogator & torturer in the service of Elizabeth I [ROWSE/POL]

The Herball, or Generall Historie of Plantes (1597) by John Gerard [Syon Abbey 1597/GER/X  or Rare Books A 1597/GER/X]

Search for more 16th century published resources on the library catalogue. 

 

Crediton Parish Library: The collection is fully catalogued and entries appear on the University Library's online catalogue. You can browse the catalogue by following this link.

  • The Crediton Parish Library is the largest of the four parish libraries housed at the University of Exeter Library.  The library contains a great number of theological works, but there is also a good cross-section of other subjects, such as history, politics, science, geography and literature. The majority of books are published in England, though there is a selection of titles published on the continent, mainly amongst the older titles.

Syon Abbey: The collection is fully catalogued and entries appear on the University Library's online catalogue. Follow this link to perform a local classmark search for 'Syon' and to browse the contents of the Syon Abbey library on the online catalogue.

  • The Syon Abbey Library comprises more than 1,000 printed books dating from the early sixteenth century to the late twentieth century, including hagiographic, devotional, polemical, and historical works. As well as containing numerous individual titles of interest, the collection as a whole is a rich source of study for ecclesiastical history and religious women's reading habits. Numerous books in the collection bear manuscript annotations by the nuns.

Sabine Baring Gould Library: The collection is fully catalogued and entries appear on the University Library's online catalogue. Follow this link to perform a local classmark search for 'Baring Gould' and to browse the contents of this  library on the online catalogue

  • The Baring-Gould Library holds around 3,000 books, written in a variety of languages and on many different subjects, including literature, history, folklore, mythology, religion, music, architecture, art, and natural history. The earliest book dates to 1534 and the most recent to 1975, but the majority of books were printed in the 19th and early 20th century.

Rare Books Collection: The collection is fully catalogued and entries appear on the University Library's online catalogue. You can browse the catalogue for items in this collection by following this link.

  • The Rare Books Collection is the main run of pre-1700 books which are owned by the Library and which have been collected over time. The collection covers a range of subject areas, from theology to architecture, from antiquities to history of science.

Ottery St Mary Library: The collection is fully catalogued and entries appear on the University Library's online catalogue. You can browse the catalogue for items in this collection by following this link.

  • The Ottery St Mary parish library is the smallest of the four such libraries held at the University of Exeter Library. The books are mainly on theological topics dating from the 16th to the 19th century, but also include five 15th-century incunabula.

The Dodderidge Library: The collection is fully catalogued and entries appear on the University Library's online catalogue. You can browse the catalogue for this collection by following this link.

  • The Dodderidge Library was founded by John Dodderidge of Barnstaple, Devon (1610-1666), who donated his book collection to the town of Barnstaple in 1664. The Dodderidge Library consists mainly of pre-1700 books, including a few incunabula. There are many books on theology, British, foreign and classical literatures and on geography, history and the sciences.

17th century resources

                            Manuscripts from the collections of the Bridgettine nuns of Syon Abbey [EUL MS 262/add1 and EUL MS 262/add2] including amongst others: a revised edition of the Rule of St Augustine and the Constitutions of St Bridget, containing the signatures of sisters and brothers of Syon Abbey, c 1607 [EUL MS 262/add1/2]

Syon Abbey archive [EUL MS 389], comprising papers relating to the Bridgettine community's period in exile in the Low Countries, France and Portugal. These include correspondence with ecclesiastical authorities [EUL MS 389/ECC/1/1-4] and signed vows of sisters [EUL MS 389/COM/2/1/1-3].

John Dodderidge's 'History of Wales, Cornwall and Chester' manuscript copy, 1603 [EUL MS 6]

'Dialogue between a Councillor of State and a Justice of the Peace' by Walter Raleigh, manuscript copy c 1615 [EUL MS 98]

John Keymor's treatise on trade, manuscript copy c 1620 [EUL MS 97]

Seventeenth century commonplace book, manuscript, c 1624, including papers relating to Parliament, the House of Commons and treaties with Spain [EUL MS 32]

Commonplace book of Devon cleric Joseph Ayres, manuscript, 1650 [EUL MS 40]

Third printed volume of a 'Rule for Perfection' by Revd. Francis Bennet of Essex, 17th century [EUL MS 70]

Mariette family papers, comprising French historical papers relating to the Mariette family and connected families (such as the de Villeblin family), including wills, inventories, and other legal documents, copies of deeds, and private accounts,16th-19th century [EUL MS 36]

Browse our archive catalogue for further historical resources.

Astronomiae Instauratae Mechanica (1602) by Tycho Brahe [Rare books B 1602/BRA/X]

The Book of Common Prayer (1605) [Dodderidge 1605/CHU/X]

Actes and Monuments [also known as the Book of Martyrs] (1610) by John Foxe, containing an unusually well-preserved folding plate depicting scenes of Protestant martyrdom. [Dodderidge 1610/FOX/XX]

Historia Naturae, Maxime Peregrinae (1635) by Juan Eusebio Nieremberg [Baring-Gould Library 0689 Folio]

Eikon Basilike: The Pourtraicture of his Sacred Majestie in his Solitudes and Sufferings (1648) by King Charles I of England [Crediton Library 1648/CHA]

Leviathan (first edition, 1651) by Thomas Hobbes [Rare Books B 1651/HOB/X]

A Choice Manuall: or, Rare and Select Secrets in Physick and Chyrurgery... (1654) by Elizabeth Grey, Countess of Kent [Syon Abbey 1654/KEN

Some thoughts concerning education (1693) by John Locke [Rare Books B 1693/LOC]

A collection of over 1200 seventeenth and eighteenth-century pamphlets [classmark: Crediton Library Pamphlets], including Reflections upon the Late Great Revolution (1689) by Daniel Defoe [Crediton Library Pamphlets 1689/DEF] and other works relating to history, politics, religious controversy and literature.

Crediton Parish Library: The collection is fully catalogued and entries appear on the University Library's online catalogue. You can browse the catalogue by following this link.

  • The Crediton Parish Library is the largest of the four parish libraries housed at the University of Exeter Library.  The library contains a great number of theological works, but there is also a good cross-section of other subjects, such as history, politics, science, geography and literature. The majority of books are published in England, though there is a selection of titles published on the continent, mainly amongst the older titles.

The Dodderidge Library: The collection is fully catalogued and entries appear on the University Library's online catalogue. You can browse the catalogue for this collection by following this link.

  • The Dodderidge Library was founded by John Dodderidge of Barnstaple, Devon (1610-1666), who donated his book collection to the town of Barnstaple in 1664. The Dodderidge Library consists mainly of pre-1700 books, including a few incunabula. There are many books on theology, British, foreign and classical literatures and on geography, history and the sciences.

Ottery St Mary Library: The collection is fully catalogued and entries appear on the University Library's online catalogue. You can browse the catalogue for items in this collection by following this link.

  • The Ottery St Mary parish library is the smallest of the four such libraries held at the University of Exeter Library. The books are mainly on theological topics dating from the 16th to the 19th century, but also include five 15th-century incunabula.

Rare Books Collection: The collection is fully catalogued and entries appear on the University Library's online catalogue. You can browse the catalogue for items in this collection by following this link.

  • The Rare Books Collection is the main run of pre-1700 books which are owned by the Library and which have been collected over time. The collection covers a range of subject areas, from theology to architecture, from antiquities to history of science.

Totnes Library: The collection is fully catalogued and entries appear on the University Library's online catalogue. Follow this link to perform a local classmark search for 'Totnes' and to browse the contents of this parish library on the online catalogue.

  • The Totnes Library dates back to the early years of the seventeenth century. The collection is strongest in its representation of seventeenth-century titles on divinity.

Sabine Baring Gould Library: The collection is fully catalogued and entries appear on the University Library's online catalogue. Follow this link to perform a local classmark search for 'Baring Gould' and to browse the contents of this  library on the online catalogue

  • The Baring-Gould Library holds around 3,000 books, written in a variety of languages and on many different subjects, including literature, history, folklore, mythology, religion, music, architecture, art, and natural history. The earliest book dates to 1534 and the most recent to 1975, but the majority of books were printed in the 19th and early 20th century.

Syon Abbey: The collection is fully catalogued and entries appear on the University Library's online catalogue. Follow this link to perform a local classmark search for 'Syon' and to browse the contents of the Syon Abbey library on the online catalogue.

  • The Syon Abbey Library comprises more than 1,000 printed books dating from the early sixteenth century to the late twentieth century, including hagiographic, devotional, polemical, and historical works. As well as containing numerous individual titles of interest, the collection as a whole is a rich source of study for ecclesiastical history and religious women's reading habits. Numerous books in the collection bear manuscript annotations by the nuns.

18th century resources

Syon Abbey archive [EUL MS 389], comprising papers relating to the Bridgettine community's period in exile in the Low Countries, France and Portugal. These include correspondence with ecclesiastical authorities [EUL MS 389/ECC/1], vows of sisters [EUL MS 389/COM/2/1/4], a letter from Sister Kitty Witham (1756) [EUL MS PERS/WITHAM], and an account book (1768) [EUL MS 389/FIN/1/1/1]

Gale and Morant Family Papers [EUL MS 44EUL MS 44 add. 1EUL MS 130.] relating to the management of family-owned sugar plantations in Jamaica at the height of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and comprising include correspondence, accounts and other papers (1731-1939).

Mariette family papers, comprising French historical papers relating to the Mariette family and connected families (such as the de Villeblin family), including wills, inventories, and other legal documents, copies of deeds, and private accounts,16th-19th century [EUL MS 36]

Nuovo Ritratti della corte di Francia (1704), a manuscript account of the French Court entitled [EUL MS 30b]

Gentleman's almanack of Richard Bent (1718) [EUL MS 24]

Lady Jersey's personal papers (18th-19th century), including invitations to events, political satires, and short communications. [EUL MS 10

Browse our archive catalogue for further historical resources.

The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy (1729) by Isaac Newton [Reserve 510.1 NEW]

Encyclopedie (full set of 39 volumes, 1778-81) by Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert [Reserve 848.5/ENC]

Il Decamerone (1757) by Giovanni Boccaccio [Lloyd 858.1/BOC]

The Fairy Queen (finely illustrated two-volume set, 1788) by Edmund Spenser [Lloyd 828.3/SPE]

A collection of over 1200 seventeenth and eighteenth-century pamphlets [classmark: Crediton Library Pamphlets], including Reflections upon the Late Great Revolution (1689) by Daniel Defoe [Crediton Library Pamphlets 1689/DEF] and other works relating to history, politics, religious controversy and literature.

Crediton Parish Library: The collection is fully catalogued and entries appear on the University Library's online catalogue. You can browse the catalogue by following this link.

  • The Crediton Parish Library is the largest of the four parish libraries housed at the University of Exeter Library.  The library contains a great number of theological works, but there is also a good cross-section of other subjects, such as history, politics, science, geography and literature. The majority of books are published in England, though there is a selection of titles published on the continent, mainly amongst the older titles.

The Dodderidge Library: The collection is fully catalogued and entries appear on the University Library's online catalogue. You can browse the catalogue for this collection by following this link.

  • The Dodderidge Library was founded by John Dodderidge of Barnstaple, Devon (1610-1666), who donated his book collection to the town of Barnstaple in 1664. The Dodderidge Library consists mainly of pre-1700 books, including a few incunabula. There are many books on theology, British, foreign and classical literatures and on geography, history and the sciences.

Ottery St Mary Library: The collection is fully catalogued and entries appear on the University Library's online catalogue. You can browse the catalogue for items in this collection by following this link.

  • The Ottery St Mary parish library is the smallest of the four such libraries held at the University of Exeter Library. The books are mainly on theological topics dating from the 16th to the 19th century, but also include five 15th-century incunabula.

Rare Books Collection: The collection is fully catalogued and entries appear on the University Library's online catalogue. You can browse the catalogue for items in this collection by following this link.

  • The Rare Books Collection is the main run of pre-1700 books which are owned by the Library and which have been collected over time. The collection covers a range of subject areas, from theology to architecture, from antiquities to history of science.

The Reserve Collection of post-1700 rare books:The collection is fully catalogued and entries appear on the University Library's online catalogue. You can browse the catalogue for items in this collection by following this link.

  • The books in the Reserve Collection include individual volumes transferred from the Library's main sequence of loan books, as well as gifts and purchases. The historical aspect of all academic subjects taught at the University are represented, from art history to literature, from the history of science to the history of law.

Totnes Library: The collection is fully catalogued and entries appear on the University Library's online catalogue. Follow this link to perform a local classmark search for 'Totnes' and to browse the contents of this parish library on the online catalogue.

  • The Totnes Library dates back to the early years of the seventeenth century. The collection is strongest in its representation of seventeenth-century titles on divinity.

Sabine Baring Gould Library: The collection is fully catalogued and entries appear on the University Library's online catalogue. Follow this link to perform a local classmark search for 'Baring Gould' and to browse the contents of this  library on the online catalogue

  • The Baring-Gould Library holds around 3,000 books, written in a variety of languages and on many different subjects, including literature, history, folklore, mythology, religion, music, architecture, art, and natural history. The earliest book dates to 1534 and the most recent to 1975, but the majority of books were printed in the 19th and early 20th century.

Syon Abbey: The collection is fully catalogued and entries appear on the University Library's online catalogue. Follow this link to perform a local classmark search for 'Syon' and to browse the contents of the Syon Abbey library on the online catalogue.

  • The Syon Abbey Library comprises more than 1,000 printed books dating from the early sixteenth century to the late twentieth century, including hagiographic, devotional, polemical, and historical works. As well as containing numerous individual titles of interest, the collection as a whole is a rich source of study for ecclesiastical history and religious women's reading habits. Numerous books in the collection bear manuscript annotations by the nuns.

Historical Maps

Townsend maps

Historical maps of Devon and 9 maps of Exeter tracing the development of the city from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries.

16th-19th centuries

Constable maps

Historical maps for the British Islands and its counties, Devon and Wales in particular, and also 1540s and 1710s maps of the world

16th-19th centuries, with a particular strength in 17th century maps.

Cartography collection

Maps and atlases, including the first edition of the Ordnance Survey 1" to the mile maps of Devon, Cornwall and Dorset made in 1809-1811, four of Ogilby's linear road maps of the Westcountry of c 1675, and a collection of "escape maps" printed on silk and given to military personnel (mostly airmen) who were shot down or captured during the Second World War to help them escape back to the United Kingdom. 

17th-20th centuries, with a particular strength in 19th and 20th centuries maps. 

How to search the library catalogue for printed resources in Special Collections

If you are after '15th century resources' but are not sure where to start from...

Search the library catalogue for wildcard '*' and select the 'catalogue' tab. Refine your results using menu on the left. For example select publish date '1400-1500' for early modern editions. You can also select a specific location: for example tick 'Special Collections' to see what we hold here in our repository. 

To browse additional resources from an item record, click 'see all' and 'call no'. 

You can browse titles from our book collections on the Library's classic catalogue by performing a 'local classmark' search. Select 'Local classmark' from the drop down list then enter the name of the collection in the search box.

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You can then choose to arrange the results by year by selecting this option from the dropdown list beside the search button.

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