Every month at The Morrab Library we host talks in the Reading Room for library members and non-members alike. The programme is as eclectic as the library’s collection – from the Holy Wells of Cornwall to the History of the English Miniature Painting – and meander through Literature, Poetry, Art, Geology and a host of other fascinating subjects in between. 

Often, the writers, academics, poets and artists we invite to speak at the Library generously let us record their talk so we can share them with a wider audience online. You can browse the selection of recorded talks here.

Some of our brilliant speakers also use the Library’s archive, newspaper and book collections for their own research. In homage to BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time, we are hoping to share a “Reading List” to go with each talk recording, in case you would like to follow up on the talk by borrowing related titles from the Library or delving into our archives. 

We’ll be publishing these reading lists on our blog on a monthly basis so please do keep checking back for updated reading lists.

Last month, we shared a reading List for Kensa Broadhurst’s talk “The Cornish Language in West Penwith in the 19th Century” and this month you’ll find Guy English’s Holy Wells of Cornwall reading list below.

‘The Holy Wells of Cornwall’ 

One of our brilliant volunteers, Guy English, gave a talk in the Reading Room back in February about ‘The Holy Wells of Cornwall’.

He told the story of searching for Cornwall’s Holy Wells, first in chance encounters, then by turns curiously, obsessively, finally doggedly. For five years Guy English and his late wife Catharine scoured the county, following the previous authors, but also checking maps, streams, apparently pointless footpaths, and in the process found more than twenty wells not previously recorded.

Their hope is the book – Holy Wells Cornwall: Odyssey & Memorial – will encourage others to seek these wells. Some are special for beauty, for remoteness, for the spiritual sense that many recognise, or for the stories which have accreted over time. At the very least, there are some good walks, and the discovery of parts of Cornwall not to be missed. But this is also a story of their partnership, and something of a memorial, being one part of the huge legacy of art and poetry left by Guy’s wife of fifty years.

All of the books mentioned in Guy’s Reading List below can be found in the Jenner Room (our Cornish collection) which is located on the ground floor of The Morrab Library. The Dewey Decimal Number for each book can be found next to the author in the list below. Please ask a member of staff if you need help finding the books, or email enquiries@morrablibrary.org.uk if you would like to reserve any of these titles.

Holy Wells of Cornwall by Catharine & Guy English – C291.35

Holy Wells of Cornwall by A. Lane-Davies – C398.364

Fentynyow Kernow by Cheryl Straffon – C628.114

Ancient and Holy Wells of Cornwall by Mabel Quiller Couch  – C398.364

The Saints of Cornwall by Nicholas Orme – C274.237

The Healing Wells, Cornish Cults and Customs  by P.O. Leggat M.D., F.R.C.P.D.V. Leggat – C628.114