Sula Welty

Written by Sula Welty

Modified & Updated: 03 Mar 2024

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith


The Old Library at St. John’s College is an architectural masterpiece that exudes a sense of grandeur and history. It is a cultural and educational landmark that has stood the test of time, serving as a haven for knowledge and intellectual pursuits for centuries. This extraordinary institution holds within its walls a treasure trove of literary works, rare manuscripts, and historical artifacts that offer a glimpse into the past and shape our understanding of the present.

In this article, we will delve into the fascinating world of the Old Library at St. John’s College, unveiling 18 intriguing facts about this hallowed institution. From its illustrious history and impressive architecture to the remarkable collection of books it houses, prepare to be captivated by the rich heritage and significance of this renowned library. Let’s embark on a journey that will unveil the mysteries and wonders hidden within the walls of the Old Library, St. John’s College.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Old Library at St. John’s College is a historic gem with rare books, stunning architecture, and a peaceful atmosphere, making it a must-visit for book lovers and architecture enthusiasts alike.
  • The Old Library is a symbol of academic excellence, preserving knowledge, and inspiring generations of writers. It’s a haven of tranquility and a source of pride for St. John’s College.
Table of Contents

A Historic Landmark

The Old Library, St. John’s College, is a historic landmark located in the heart of Cambridge, England. It has been an integral part of the college since its construction in the 17th century.

Rich Architectural History

The library boasts a stunning architectural design, featuring elements of both Gothic and Renaissance styles. Its grandeur and unique features make it a must-visit destination for architecture enthusiasts.

A Home to Rare Books

The Old Library houses an extensive collection of rare and valuable books, including some of the oldest manuscripts in the world. It is a treasure trove for scholars, researchers, and book lovers.

The Iconic Bridge of Sighs

Connected to the Old Library is the iconic Bridge of Sighs, a covered bridge known for its stunning architecture and picturesque views. It has become an iconic symbol of St. John’s College.

A Hidden Gem

The Old Library remains relatively unknown to many tourists, making it a hidden gem for those in search of a peaceful and enriching experience. Its serene atmosphere provides the perfect setting for intellectual pursuits.

Home to Historical Artefacts

Aside from books, the Old Library also houses a collection of historical artifacts, including ancient manuscripts, maps, and scientific instruments. It offers a glimpse into the rich history of St. John’s College.

Breathtaking Interior

The interior of the Old Library is truly breathtaking, with its high ceilings, intricate woodwork, and stunning stained glass windows. It creates an ambiance that is both inspiring and awe-inspiring.

A Literary Haven

Many well-known literary figures have spent time in the Old Library, including famous authors, poets, and intellectuals. It has been a source of inspiration for generations of writers.

A Place of Study

The Old Library continues to serve as a place of study and research for students and scholars at St. John’s College. It provides a tranquil and scholarly environment conducive to intellectual pursuits.

A Venue for Special Events

The Old Library is occasionally used as a venue for special events, such as lectures, readings, and exhibitions. It adds a touch of sophistication and historical significance to any occasion hosted within its walls.

Restored to Perfection

In recent years, the Old Library underwent a meticulous restoration process to preserve its architectural integrity and ensure its longevity. The restoration efforts have beautifully revitalized this historic landmark.

A Source of Academic Pride

The Old Library stands as a symbol of academic excellence and scholarly achievement at St. John’s College. It represents the institution’s commitment to preserving knowledge and fostering intellectual growth.

Open to the Public

Although primarily used by the college’s students and staff, the Old Library is open to the public at designated times. Visitors have the opportunity to explore its magnificent halls and witness its literary treasures.

A Masterpiece of Craftsmanship

The construction of the Old Library required exceptional craftsmanship and attention to detail. It stands as a testament to the remarkable skills of the artisans and craftsmen of its time.

A Haven of Silence

Within the walls of the Old Library, one can find solace and tranquility amidst the bustling college campus. It offers a peaceful retreat for those seeking a break from the outside world.

An Inspiration for Films

The Old Library’s grandeur and historical significance have made it a popular filming location. It has been featured in various movies, capturing the imagination of audiences around the world.

A Testament to St. John’s Legacy

The Old Library stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of St. John’s College and its commitment to education, knowledge, and intellectual exploration.

Preserving for Future Generations

St. John’s College takes great pride in preserving and maintaining the Old Library for future generations. It ensures that its architectural beauty and cultural significance can be enjoyed by countless visitors for years to come.

These were the 18 Fascinating Facts About The Old Library, St. John’s College. Whether you are an admirer of architecture, a lover of books, or simply seeking a tranquil intellectual retreat, the Old Library is a place that will captivate and inspire.


The Old Library at St. John’s College is a truly remarkable institution with a rich history and an impressive collection of ancient manuscripts and rare books. It has stood the test of time and remains a significant landmark in the world of academia. With its stunning architecture, serene atmosphere, and wealth of knowledge, it continues to captivate visitors from around the globe. Whether you are a book lover, a history enthusiast, or simply someone in search of an extraordinary experience, a visit to the Old Library is a must.


1. How old is the Old Library at St. John’s College?

The Old Library dates back to the early 17th century, making it over 400 years old.

2. Can visitors browse the books in the Old Library?

Unfortunately, the books in the Old Library are not available for browsing. However, guided tours are offered, providing visitors with a chance to admire the collection.

3. Are there any famous manuscripts or books housed in the Old Library?

Yes, the Old Library is home to several notable manuscripts and books, including the Book of Kells, one of the most famous medieval manuscripts in the world.

4. Is photography allowed inside the Old Library?

Photography is generally not permitted inside the Old Library. However, you may be able to take photos in certain designated areas. It is best to check with the staff or tour guides for specific rules.

5. Can I visit the Old Library without taking a guided tour?

No, access to the Old Library is only available through guided tours. This ensures the preservation of the unique historic collection and allows visitors to fully appreciate its significance.

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