Overdue library book returned to Sheffield Cathedral after 300 years

As returning your library book late goes, it takes some beating!

Friday, 9th July 2021, 3:51 pm

Sheffield Cathedral has just had a book brought back after being taken out by a reader – and it is believed to be 300 years overdue!

Delighted staff at the 800-year-old venue opened a parcel that arrived in the first class post this week, to find the book with a note explaining its owner, who had recently died, had left a note asking for it to be returned.

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Rev Canon Keith Farrow with the 300 year old book The Faith and Practice of a Church of England Man

Now the book, The Faith and Practice of a Church of England Man, is set to go on display at the church, which was well known for its library until Geogian times.

The Reverend Canon Keith Farrow, vice dean and canon missioner at the cathedral, said when it was still a church it used to have a renowned library, believed to have been dispensed with during the Georgian period.

He said: “Where in the building it was, we’re not sure. We have a few books from that period from the early Georgian and onwards, so we think probably at the time of the first re-ordering of the church in the late Georgian period, the library was probably dispersed.

“This little book was first written in 1688 and this book is a 1704 reprint.

The 300 year old book The Faith and Practice of a Church of England Man, which has just been returned to Sheffield Cathedral

"It has come back to us because a lady in Wales, whose godmother passed away, found it amongst her belongings. In her will was the bequest that it should return to Sheffield Cathedral.

"Inside, it’s actually dated 1709 and it’s very beautifully written, it says ‘this book belongs to ye lending library at Sheffield church’, which is Sheffield Cathedral.

"So this has obviously been taken out of the lending library and not returned.

"You can imagine someone coming into the lending library and actually borrowing this book.”

Rev Canon Keith Farrow with the 300 year old book The Faith and Practice of a Church of England Man

He joked: “I’m trying to work out what the librarian’s fine would be – you never know, we might get a new roof or something with the fine! But I did promise the family I wouldn’t charge them the fine – they’ve returned the book and that’s wonderful. So this little book, just over 300 years ago, left the library. Now it's come back home so it's a joy to have this little jewel back here in Sheffield Cathedral.”

The 300 year old book The Faith and Practice of a Church of England Man, which has just been returned to Sheffield Cathedral