For any bookworms staying at The Tamburlaine Hotel, Sarah Keys Bookshop, or “The Haunted Bookshop” as it is known to many, is one of Cambridge’s best hidden gems. Tucked away in a quiet alley, St Edward’s Passage, Sarah Key’s bookshop is overlooked by the ancient St Edward King and Martyr Church and is itself steeped in Cambridge’s rich history. Not only that, but as a member of the Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association, Sarah Keys Bookshop is licensed to sell a vast range of antique and vintage books, making it the ideal place for the casual reader and the treasure hunter alike.
The range of books
The speciality of Sarah Keys Bookshop is second hand and antiquarian books, with an added twist of vintage and classic children’s literature from the likes of Enid Blyton. These books can range from second hand to gold encrusted and leather bound. For instance, there are a number of paperback bargains, which contrast greatly with the first edition of CS Lewis’s Prince Caspian which reaches a staggering £1500. Not only does Sarah Keys stand as a licensed retailer but also buys books from the general public.
The Legend of the “White Lady”
The local legend of Sarah Keys bookshops haunting is of course, not the only draw for visitors, as mentioned above. The small, idyllic shop does, however have its dark side. In the last decade, a female spectre has been seen stalking the stairs of the bookshop, smelling faintly of violets. Although the ghost has been largely unexplained, many believe that it may have something to do with the shops past as an Alehouse and some form of violent history that came along with it. The Ghost tour of Cambridge has the shop as one of its stops, many coming for the paranormal but staying for the paperbacks.
Lay out and location
Sarah Keys bookshop is, as are most local haunts that draw in those who wish to withdraw, intimate, quiet and piled high with hidden gems. There is a narrow staircase hidden between the walls of books. This, of course leads to even more and has those loyal to the independent book shop spending days on end delving through what are not just stories, but tangible treasures to be cherished.
Sarah Keys Bookshop is located in the heart of Cambridge, just down from the Kings College Chapel and Corpus Christi College.