Hereford Cathedral Chained Library - Hereford, England

In the Middle Ages a collection of 150 books constituted a major library. These hand-transcribed and -bound volumes on law and religion were irreplaceable assets, and thus exceedingly valuable. To solve the problem of possible theft, the Hereford Cathedral librarians seized upon a practical solution: they chained the books to the shelves.

Most of the volumes in the collection date to acquistions made in the 1100s, although the oldest book in the collection, the “Hereford Gospels,” dates to about the year 800. The books have moved around the Cathedral buildings over the centuries with some chained to desks and others to pulpits or study tables at one time. The chained library as a collection was created when the books were moved into the Lady Chapel in 1611, following an investigation into the care of the books.

More on ancient libraries in general and the Hereford Cathedral Chained Library…