Wren Library

Collections | Visiting Readers

Wren Library Collections

Medieval Manuscripts

Trinity possesses about 1250 western medieval manuscripts, catalogued by M.R. James, many of which are available via the Wren Digital Library. Treasures include the great 12th century Eadwine Psalter from Christ Church Canterbury, the 13th century Anglo-Norman Trinity Apocalypse, the 13th century Romance of Alexander and the 14th century manuscript of Piers Plowman. Also contained in the collection of manuscripts are the Milton manuscript and the notebook of Isaac Newton.

All of the library’s manuscript catalogues, western and non-western, can be found here

Printed Books

The Wren Library houses 750 incunabula, the Capell collection of Shakespeariana, many books from the library of Sir Isaac Newton including his annotated copy of the Principia Mathematica, the Rothschild collection of 18th century literature, the Kessler collection of livres d’artistes, and over 70,000 books printed before 1820. The College Library’s online catalogue includes entries for all printed books.

In 2016 the library received the Crewe bequest of over 7,000 books. Further information on the collection can be found here.

Modern Manuscripts

Trinity College possesses an ever-increasing collection of modern manuscripts ranging from single items such as the manuscript of Bertrand Russell’s The Implications of the H-bomb or of Winnie the Pooh to large personal archives, for example the papers of R.A. Butler or Ludwig Wittgenstein. Large collections generally have a catalogue in the form of a list of the papers with entries in a master index, while single items only have an entry in the index. Prospective readers of modern manuscripts should contact the archivist.

Trinity College Library is a member of Janus, a website which brings together catalogues of archives from many Cambridge University and College repositories. We are currently in the process of adding catalogues to Janus, but this process is not yet complete. Readers are therefore encouraged to check both the index of modern manuscript collections held in this library and the Janus website.


The college archive is comprised of the administrative papers created and received by the college and its predecessors in the transaction of their business. Much of the early material relates to Michaelhouse and The King’s Hall, two of the foundations dissolved by Henry VIII when he established Trinity. There is no consolidated catalogue, but an index to the estate records exists and a finding-aid for the volumes in the archive is in progress. Prospective readers of archival material should contact the archivist.

Consulting Material in the Wren Library


If you have any questions about the Library’s rare books and manuscript collections please email: wren.library@trin.cam.ac.uk

If you have any questions about the College archive or modern manuscript collections please email: archives@trin.cam.ac.uk


The Wren Library is generally open to visiting readers at the following times:

Monday to Friday 9.00 am – 5.00 pm

Making an Appointment

The Wren Library acts as a reading room with limited places so booking in advance is essential. All readers, including members of Trinity, should contact the library in advance to book an appointment indicating the materials they would like to consult. A written letter of recommendation is required from an academic colleague, tutor, or another appropriate person supporting the reader’s need to consult original material. The written recommendation should be signed and include the name and professional status of the referee. All readers should also supply a form of ID with photograph on arrival at the Library.

To make an appointment to consult items from Library’s rare books and manuscript collections please email: wren.library@trin.cam.ac.uk

To make an appointment to consult items from the College archive or modern manuscript collections please email: archives@trin.cam.ac.uk


Photography of items is permitted under certain circumstances. Please speak to a member of staff before photographing any items and see our rules for photography prior to your visit.

It is possible to order high-resolution images of items in the collection. Please contact the library for further details.


The Library’s rules for visiting readers can be found here.