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Library Book 300 Years Overdue Returned

A 1704 edition of the 1688 book The Faith and Practice of a Church of England-Man has found its way back to Sheffield Cathedral in England roughly 300 years after it was checked out of the cathedral’s library—and 200 years after the library itself was dismantled.

The Faith and Practice of a Church of England-Man, written by the Christian theologian William Stanley, provides an overview of the principles and beliefs members of the religious sect are expected to uphold.

The book, which arrived by first class mail, also contained a note from a woman in Wales who said that her recently deceased godmother had willed that it should be returned to the cathedral. The inner pages bear the inscription “This Book Belongs to ye Lending Library in Sheffield Church 1709.”

The Rev. Canon Keith Farrow, who has served as vice dean and canon missioner at Sheffield Cathedral since 2014, has promised the family they wouldn’t be charged an overdue fee, but jokingly mentioned the fine would likely buy a new roof for the cathedral

Sheffield Cathedral was built in 1430 but was known as Sheffield Parish Church until 1914. Over the course of its nearly 600-year history, the cathedral hosted members of King Henry VIII’s inner circle, weathered a deadly flood that killed 200 residents, and survived several major wars, including the English Civil War, World War I, and World War II. It sustained minor damage when German forces bombed Sheffield in 1940.

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