Duke Humfrey’s Library, Oxford

During my recent visit to Oxford, I was lucky enough to spend some time studying in the wonderful Duke Humfrey’s Library. This extraordinary space is the oldest reading room in Oxford University’s Bodleian Library, with parts of it dating back to 1487.

The impressive entrance to Oxford University's Bodleian Library

The impressive entrance to Oxford University’s Bodleian Library

Duke Humfrey’s Library is split into three parts; the original medieval section, which was reconfigured in 1602, the Arts End which was created in 1612 and the Selden End which dates from 1637. It is named after Humfrey of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Gloucester, a son of King Henry IV who donated his important manuscript collection to the University.

The magical interior of Duke Humfrey's Library, Oxford

The magical interior of Duke Humfrey’s Library, Oxford

Since my visit I discovered this lovely print, below, showing the library in the mid-17th Century. Amazingly, apart from the rather dashing costumes of the students, not much has changed in the last 350 years. With its narrow rows of old oak desks below shelves filled with ancient volumes, its beautifully painted ceiling and high walls lined with historic portraits, Duke Humfery’s Library is a magical, if rather distracting, place to study!

A 17th Century view of Duke Humfrey's Library, Oxford

A 17th Century view of Duke Humfrey’s Library, Oxford

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4 Responses to “Duke Humfrey’s Library, Oxford”

  1. Oh wow, I am stomach-turningly green with envy – what a marvellous place!

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