Henry Hare (1861-1921), the architect who designed the new Westminster buildings when the College moved to Cambridge in 1899, designed many libraries, including those in Hackney, Hammersmith, Fulham, and Wolverhampton. He also designed the town halls in Oxford and Crewe and Bangor University. So it seems natural that the Library at Westminster is the biggest space in the College, with a queen-post trussed roof and two rows of windows on each side. This, together with its south-facing aspect, make the Library a very light and pleasant space.
The gates and screen across the Library mark where the Chapel used to be in 1899. A new Chapel was built after the First World War, between the residential wing and the kitchen. The Library’s walls are oak panelled. The shelves are oak, too, thanks to gifts from William Pirrie Sinclair of Liverpool, and Thomas Rankine of Clapton, London. They are commemorated in two panels to the left of the doors, inlaid with mother of pearl, ebony and ivory. The original readers’ tables have been replaced by modern study carrels, but the rest of this end of the room is essentially as it would have been in 1900.
The library opened with 20,000 volumes. There are nearly double that number now. Today’s patrons also have access to a substantial number of additional resources, such as electronic indices, journals, and books. Our main Library collections are tailored to the needs of ministers, those training for ministry within the church, and other undergraduate and postgraduate students in taught or research programmes. Additionally, the College holds several archival and special collections, which cover a range of denominations and subjects.
Our Library users include Westminster students, teaching staff, and other members of the Cambridge Theological Federation. As a Resource Centre for Learning for the whole of the United Reformed Church, we invite members of local congregations to use our collections as well. To obtain a day pass, please contact the Tutorial Office.