Menu

Cathedral Texts Shed Light on Supernatural Beliefs of Centuries Ago, says University Academic

Back to news listings

The public has a rare chance to learn about the supernatural world as people saw it centuries ago through original texts held at Worcester Cathedral.

The University of Worcester’s Professor of Early Modern History Darren Oldridge will give a talk at the Cathedral’s library using its ancient books to shed light on people’s beliefs in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

He also hopes this will open more people’s eyes to the “unknown gem” on their doorstep.

Prof Oldridge’s talk entitled ‘Seeking the Supernatural in Early Printed Books’ on November 5 will be illustrated by books from the collection.

“The people of Tudor and Stuart England believed the world was filled with invisible spirits,” he said.

“Miracles were possible, as well as less welcome interventions by fallen angels. Magic was real. The books in the library shed light on these beliefs.”

The Cathedral’s library and archive, which is accessed by a medieval spiral staircase, started in the early middle ages and contains historical material associated with the Cathedral right up to modern times, as well as a collection of books and ancient manuscripts.

It is used by scholar and students from all over the world every year, including from the University of Worcester.

It is also sometimes possible for people to book a tour by appointment.

The Cathedral’s collection includes illuminated manuscripts and also many books printed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Visitors will have the opportunity to see and hold these printed volumes for themselves.

“Holding old books can bring alive the past,” said Prof Oldridge.

“When we turn the pages of these lovely old texts, we can imagine the many readers before us who did just the same.

“These old books make it easier to understand the lives and beliefs of people in the Tudor and Stuart age.”

Space in the Cathedral library is limited, so tickets should be booked in advance by emailing ihca@worc.ac.uk and attendees should meet at midday on November 5 at the Cathedral’s main entrance.