the morrab library

The Morrab Library founded 1818

  • New members always welcome. Annual Membership Subscription £30
  • Life Membership £500; Life Membership (Over 60) £300
  • Approximately 600 members


In Penwith we are lucky to possess a rare, remarkable and rewarding thing - a large independent library. The Morrab Library is rare because it is the only one in Cornwall and there are only 30 in the United Kingdom. It is one of the largest - ranking sixth, with more than 40,000 volumes and is strong in literature, history, biography, antiquities, topography and travel and religion. It is remarkable because it houses a marvellous series of collections which have gradually been acquired since the library was founded in 1818. The Jenner Room has brought together its extensive Cornish collection and its holdings on the other Celtic countries as a centre for Celtic studies. A library set in a garden by the sea housing treasures to delight bibliophiles as well as new works of general interest. Its members and other visitors find it an ideal place for study, research and general reading as well as for cultural and social activities.


There are approximately 60,000 volumes, classified by Dewey, with a full catalogue, and mostly on open access. The stock covers virtually all subjects except modern science and technology, with large collections on history, literature and religion. There is an extensive Cornish collection; 2,000 books printed in the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; manuscripts relating to various local families; long runs of periodicals and local newspapers; prints, engravings and a Cornwall photographic archive.

The Morrab Library holds the Dawson Collection of bound volumes of prints and engravings of Napoleon and his times. Some 2,750 of its books were printed before 1801. The Library offers great research potential in its extensive runs of eighteenth- and nineteenth- century periodicals, among which are over a century of Cornish newspapers which start before 1850. There are seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Parliamentary Reports, nineteenth-century Blue Books and Historic Manuscript Commission Reports.

There is a collection of 3,000 Napoleonic memorabilia, which has been described as "the only great Napoleonic collection in the world"; whilst the Library's photographic archive has a computerized catalogue of over 10,000 prints and negatives of antiquities, places, people and events in West Cornwall. It has recently acquired a further 15,000 transparencies of buildings, industrial archaeology and related interest.


Morrab House, built in 1841, stands in three-and-a-half acres of the Morrab Gardens overlooking the sea. Since 1889 the house has been occupied by the Library as the tenant of the local authority.


Registered charity no. 309250


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