Shrewsbury School

From the School Archives

Tuesday 14 November 2017

In an occasional feature for the website and eNewsletter, the School Archivist selects one of the treasures of Shrewsbury Ancient (Taylor) Library. The Library was founded in 1606 and includes a collection of manuscripts, books, maps and other treasures that is of national signficance.

As the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation in Europe draws to a close and we approach the end of term and the season of Advent, a 16th Century book from the Taylor Library springs to mind.

This book, in its day, it was so incendiary that if you were caught possessing it you would be put to death and the book destroyed. Now it is one of the jewels in our rare books collection. It is William Tyndale’s English New Testament, printed in Antwerp in 1534. Tyndale paid a high price; he fled and was eventually burned at the stake in Belgium.

Martin Luther’s famous 95 Theses in October 1517 triggered the Reformation in Europe, leading to over a century of conflict and the transformation of Christian Europe. An equally important figure of the Reformation was William Tyndale, who in the same year of 1517 began to translate the Greek Bible into English so that, as he said, ‘every boy that pulleth the plough’ might hear the Gospels in his own tongue. The great King James Bible of 1611 (of which the school has a 1st edition) is over 80% Tyndale’s original translation. Tyndale’s legacy must, therefore, be reckoned as not only a seminal influence on the Christian Faith, but one of the three great pillars of modern English along with Chaucer and Shakespeare.

We are fortunate indeed to possess a library that houses such treasures.

Robin Brooke-Smith, School Archivist

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