Astronomy in Leicestershire title image


Libraries with books on astronomy in Leicestershire.

Leicester Abbey

A catalogue of the books in the library at Leicester Abbey survives and it included books on astronomy and astronomical instruments such as astrolabes.

Catalogue of Leicester Abbey, Nichols, Vol 1 pt 2 Appendix p105
Astronomical books and instruments in Leicester Abbey Library (Nichols, 1815)

Leicester Permanent Library

The 1885 catalogue lists around thirty books on astronomy including titles by Airy, Herschel, Lockyer and Pearson.

The cost of subscriptions to the library meant that it was only available to those on higher incomes.

The General News Room, Granby Street, Leicester.
The General News Room, Granby Street, Leicester
Site of Permanent Library, Granby Street, Leicester.
The site of the Permanent Library in Granby Street in 2013

Leicester Mechanics' Institute

Leicester Mechanics' Institute was founded in 1833. It closed in January 1871 and the books were given to the Central Library.

New Hall, site of the Mechanics Institute
New Hall, Wellington Street, used by Leicester Mechanics' Institute.

The 1860 catalogue lists a celestial globe and several books on astronomy, including one by Herschel.

In 1844 Alfred Russel Wallace (1823–1913) met Henry Walter Bates (1825–1892) by chance, in the Library of the Mechanics' Institute. They are commemorated on a plaque at New Walk Museum.

Current Libraries.

University of Leicester Library is an academic library. Residents of the City of Leicester can use it as a reference library.

Public Libraries

These have a range of books on astronomy for the general reader.

City of Leicester libraries

Leicestershire County Council libraries

Libraries in Leicester

Over the centuries libraries have been founded, closed and books moved as new libraries opened. In addition to libraries associated with public institutions, printers and booksellers ran libraries which subscribers paid to use. These are beyond the scope of this site.

Dates of libraries mentioned on this page:

Municipal Library, Bishop Street, Leicester.
Municipal Library, Bishop Street, Leicester.
  • Free Library, Wellington Street, 1870, moved to Bishop Street, 1905
    • Branches:
      • Garendon Street, 17 June, 1883
      • Westcotes Free Library, Narborough Road, 25 March, 1889
      • Aylestone, Richmond Road, 9 April, 1896
      • Knighton, Clarendon Park Road, 9 April, 1896
      • Belgrave, Cossington Street, 19 October, 1897
      • Woodgate, 28 October, 1898


Combe, T, The Leicester Directory, 1827. ppxxvii-xxviii: Libraries.

Cook, T, A Guide to Leicester, 1843 p18-20: Literary and Scientific Institutions, Libraries; Appendix: Permanent Library.

England, Steve, Magnificent Mercury: History of a Regional Newspaper [pdf], 1999. p8: Mechanics Institute and Central Library. p9: Richard Phillips.

Herne, Frank Shakespeare, Catalogue of the Leicester Permanent Library, (established July 31st 1789), Printed by W.H. Lead, 1885.

James, Montague Rhodes, Catalogue of the library of Leicester Abbey [pdf]

Johnson, Mrs T. Fielding [Agnes], Glimpses of Ancient Leicester in Six Periods, Second Edition, with Supplementary Notes, 1906.

Kelly's Directory of Leicestershire & Rutland, 1899. p116-7: Libraries.

Kelly's Directory of Leicestershire & Rutland, 1908. p139: Libraries

Kelly's Directory of Leicestershire & Rutland, 1912. p516: Municipal Libraries.

Ker, Neil Ripley and Perkin, Michael Roger Perkin (editors) A Directory Of The Parochial Libraries Of The Church Of England And The Church In Wales, Oxford University Press, 2004. (preview of part of the book). p265: Library at St. Martin's.

Leicester Mechanics' Institute.A classified catalogue of the books in the library of the Leicester Mechanics' Institute, 1860. In University of Leicester Library.

Leicestershire Trade Protection Society, Street, Alphabetical, and Trade Directory of Leicester, 1870. p160, 188: Libraries.

McKinley, R. A. (editor). "The City of Leicester: Social and administrative history since 1835." A History of the County of Leicester: volume 4: The City of Leicester (1958): 251-302. British History Online. Web. 01 July 2013. []

Nichols, John, The History and Antiquities of the county of Leicester, vol 1 part 2, 1815, Appendix p105 - books on astronomy and astronomical instruments at Leicester Abbey.

Pigot & Co.'s Directory of York, Leicester & Rutland, Lincoln, Northampton, and Nottingham ... Manchester and Salford, 1841. p27: Public Buildings, Offices, &c.

Seccombe, Thomas , 'Phillips, Sir Richard (1767–1840)', rev. M. Clare Loughlin-Chow, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [, accessed 29 June 2013]

Story of Leicester - Alfred Russel Wallace (1823 -1913)

Thompson, A. Hamilton, The Abbey of St. Mary of the Meadows, Leicester, The Leicester Archaeological Society, 1949.

University of Leicester: Leicester Abbey training excavation: drawing of how the Abbey may have looked.

Weston, Richard, The Leicester Directory, 1794. p6. Richard Phillips.

White, William, History, Gazetteer and Directory of Leicestershire and the small county of Rutland, 1846. pp95-7. Literary Institutions of Leicester.

White, William, History, Gazetteer, and Directory of the Counties of Leicester and Rutland, 1863, p185-7: Literary institutions.

Wright's Directory of Leicestershire, 1887-88. p263: Libraries - Circulating, p312: Educational and Literary.


Last updated 12th August, 2013.

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