Wisbech & Fenland Museum

The Museum Library

The Library of the Wisbech & Fenland Museum is a reference library and compromises c. 12,000 volumes. Two distinct collections of books are represented in the Library. The first is the library of the Wisbech Literary Society established in the town in 1781. The second consists of the books of the Townshend Bequest (Chauncy Hare Townshend 1798-1868) acquired by the Museum in 1868.

The Literary Society's books were accumulated during the century of its existence and present in the subjects selected the taste of different generations of readers. Works of History, Biography, Medicine, Travel and Exploration are much more plentiful than those of Fiction or Drama and Theological and Political literature are almost excluded.

Mr Townshend's library is equal in number to those pf the Lierary Society but is wider in the range of topics. His collection is typical of 'a gentleman of wealth and great culture' and variety of tastes. It contained works of fiction - both English and Foreign - General Literature and the Sciences. A catalogue of the collection was published in 1882.

The Wisbech Town Library

The library of Wisbech Town Council was founded c. 1653. The collection comprises c. 1,200 works on the following subjects: Theological (biblical commentaries on Old and New Testaments - Religious Instruction and Controversy), Arithmetic, Astronomy, Geography, History and Medicine. It was placed on deposit at the Museum in the early 1880s following a recommendation by the British Museum. The library is available to bona fide researchers.