Medieval library with chained books gets annual clean

Hereford Cathedral's chained libraryIt is like taking a step inside the restricted section of the Hogwarts’ library – rows and rows of chained up books and manuscripts line the tall wooden shelves secured in place on thick metal rods.

Hereford Cathedral’s chained library dates back to 1611 and it is not hard to imagine how it looked in Medieval times when it was used by scholars and the clergy as a reference centre for religious study and church law.

Books were chained because they were so valuable at the time – before the printing press each book took hours of skilled work to produce.

The start of the year sees the library undergo its annual deep clean but how do you clean 1,500 books and 225 Medieval manuscripts particularly when those items are chained to the shelves?

Dr Rosemary Firman is the librarian in charge of the gargantuan task.

She said: “It is probably the largest surviving chained library anywhere in the country.

“The books and manuscripts date from the 12th to the 19th Century.”

The library also has an older book – the 800 year old Hereford Gospels but that cannot be kept on a shelf with the other books because of its worth.

Dr Firman said they can trace the library’s history back to 1611 because the cathedral’s meticulous records survive to this day – including the order that was placed for the shelves and metal work.



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