With the establishment of the Radcliffe Learning Centre, the Cathedral donated its collection of books, documents and other historic research material to Liverpool Hope University.

This has enabled that collection to be preserved and made accessible for future generations.

Primarily the focus of the collection was to be a ‘liturgical library’. Radcliffe aimed to buy exemplars of every book printed for liturgical use in England during the Tudor and Stuart reigns, both Roman Catholic and Anglican, to be brought together alongside medieval manuscripts to document and observe the liturgical transition during this period.

The collection houses Missals dating from the pre-Reformation era, some 15th century European manuscript books of hours, 16th and 17th century bibles and early commentaries, hymn books and ecclesiastical music, and a large number of early printed books chiefly of liturgical and scholastic interest.


The Radcliffe Collection catalogue lists the holdings of books printed before 1801, including 26 incunabula (books printed before 1501), the manuscript holdings and the small collection of St. Aidan's early printed books.

There are also significant holdings of materials from the library of Christopher Wordsworth (1848-1938):

Great-grandson of Christopher Wordsworth (1774-1846), Master of Trinity College Cambridge, great-nephew of the poet William Wordsworth, nephew of Charles Wordsworth (1806-1892),  Bishop of St. Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, son of Christopher (1807-1885), Bishop of Lincoln, and brother to John (1843-1911), Bishop of Salisbury. Christopher Wordsworth served as chancellor of Lincoln Cathedral and later was a canon of Salisbury Cathedral, where he held a number of posts including that of librarian and chancellor. Wordsworth’s library collection reflects his academic interest in historical and liturgical research as well as containing books and manuscripts that had belonged to or were written by his brother, father, uncle and grandfather.

With the refurbishment of the Sheppard-Worlock Library at Liverpool Hope University, the Radcliffe Collection is now housed in a British Standard vault designed to house the Radcliffe manuscripts and early printed books which were, until very recently, held in the University of Liverpool’s Sydney Jones Library.

The remainder of the Radcliffe collection, containing liturgical and antiquarian books and books of general theological interest, was transferred to the Sheppard-Worlock Library in 2009. Happily the collection is now reunited and can be used as it was intended, as an important resource for liturgical scholarship.


To view the manuscripts or rare books please email Special Collections at Liverpool Hope University.