300 Years Overdue Books Returned to Library

Someone in the world recently returned a book to a British cathedral library that officials say they believe was checked out more than 300 years ago.

The book, a 1704 edition of The Faith and Practice of a Church of England Man, originally written in 1688, arrived via mail at Sheffield Cathedral this week, with a note enclosed explaining that it came from a woman in Wales who found it among her godmother’s belongings after she died.

In the godmother’s will “was the bequest that it should return to Sheffield Cathedral,” the cathedral’s vice dean and canon missioner, Keith Farrow, told the Sheffield Star.

“Inside, it’s actually dated 1709 and it’s very beautifully written, it says ‘this book belongs to ye lending library at Sheffield church,’” Farrow added, noting that the library was dismantled in the 1800s. “So this has obviously been taken out of the lending library and not returned.”

While Farrow quipped that the fine on a book three centuries overdue could probably finance “a new roof” for the 800-year-old cathedral, he had no intention of charging the family a fee.

“They’ve returned the book and that’s wonderful,” he said. “It’s a joy to have this little jewel back here in Sheffield Cathedral.”

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