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Grolier Club Exhibitions

Simon Beattie

Exeter Cathedral is possibly my favourite building in the world. I sang as a choral scholar in the Cathedral Choir there while I was at university, so I got to be in that wonderful space almost every day for four years and marvel at the medieval craftsmen’s skill. I discovered old books after I had left Exeter, when I started working for the booksellers Bernard Quaritch in London. Looking for books on Exeter Cathedral seemed a natural thing to do and my collection has developed over the past 20 years or so.  

Aside from the subject matter, the books I have chosentwo copies of J. W. Hewett’s Early Wood Carving (1849)bring together various aspects of the physical book which appeal to me: lithographylimited printingslarge paper, and original bindings. In addition, I recently discovered that the author, a Victorian hymn-writer and antiquary who later wrote A brief History & Description of the Cathedral Church of St. Peter, Exeter (of which I have two editions in my collection), by complete coincidence, was born in the same town that I wasAylesbury in Buckinghamshire.  

Early Wood Carving. Twenty Examples selected from the Misereres in the Choir of the Cathedral of S. Peter, Exeter. Printed at the Anastatic Press, Ipswich.

John William Hewett (1824–1886). Shoreham: Allever Butler, 1849. 

Exeter Cathedral has one of the largest, and perhaps the earliest set of misericords in England. Hewett almost abandoned the project, but for certain of the Subscribers most interested in Antiquarian Subjects, who wished him rather to avail himself of the Anastatic Transfer Process, than to withdraw altogether his undertaking.  

'Mr. Hewett has therefore, at great personal inconvenience, caused the execution of the following outlines … The Publisher ventures to hope that all the Patrons of the work will be pleased to receive it, the more so as the impression has been strictly limited to Fifty Copies of the Small, and Ten of the Large Paper Editions’ (Advertisement). 

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Copy 1: 4to (280 × 218 mm), pp. [12], plus 20 plates, and an advertisement leaf at the end; original publisher’s blue cloth lettered gilt. 50 copies printed. 

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Copy 2: (425 × 268 mm); original publisher’s red cloth. 10 copies printed.