Durham University

Department of English Studies

Tours and Excursions During the John Gower Conference

Professor Richard Gameson and the staff of the Cathedral and Palace Green libraries have generously agreed to host tours as part of the Early Book Society and John Gower Society Congress, in which selections from the important manuscript collections of these libraries will be presented. Durham Cathedral Library preserves the largest in situ medieval collection in Britain. These will take place on the afternoon of Wednesday 12th July between 2 and 5pm, with three groups of a maximum of 20 each moving between Palace Green Library, the Cathedral Library and the Cathedral (visits for 20 people at each site at 2pm, 3pm and 4pm; you will be assigned your group at registration). Delegates on these tours will be able to see both libraries, and can also visit the Cathedral Open Treasure exhibition at a reduced cost of £5 (this offer is available to delegates throughout the conference). A separate tour will leave at 2.15pm by coach to Ushaw College (located 5 miles outside the city centre) to visit the college buildings and the library, again in three groups of 20. The chapel was originally designed by Pugin; the library, which descends from the English College at Douai, contains a remarkable collection ranging from ninth-century manuscripts to an extensive printed book collection of 30,000 titles, as well as significant archival resources and deposits from various collections. Due to the limited number of spaces available, attendees may sign up to see EITHER the Cathedral and Palace Green libraries OR Ushaw College on Wednesday afternoon, and tours are only open to those not based in Durham. There may be additional tours of the two Durham libraries on Friday afternoon at 2pm and 3pm at each site if the demand for places exceeds those available on Wednesday. Please see the links below for further information about the library collections in question.

On Friday 14th July, if there is enough interest, there will be an all-day excursion to Alnwick, a market town located 53 miles north of Durham, and its spectacular castle and gardens. The eleventh-century castle is the seat of the Duke of Northumberland and has an impressive array of state rooms (including a beautiful library); the castle has also gained fame in recent years as a filming location for various film and TV franchises including the Harry Potter series and Downton Abbey. For more information on the castle and gardens, see the links below. The local bookshop, Barter Books, is also well worth a visit.

You are urged to book a place on the excursions when you register; it may still be possible to sign up when you arrive in Durham, but places on the libraries tours are limited.