The Hurd Library
The Hurd Library was built in 1782 by Richard Hurd, Bishop of Worcester, for his very fine collection of books. It has been preserved ever since and many consider it one of the most beautiful library rooms in the country. Read Hurd Librarian Chris Penney’s Hurd Library Blog, or follow @HurdLibrary on twitter.
The Hurd Library is an outstanding survival of the Age of Enlightenment. Founded in 1782 by Richard Hurd, Bishop of Worcester from 1781-1808, it is the only example of an Anglican bishop’s library remaining on its original shelves in the room built for it. It contains books from the libraries of four 18th century book-collectors – Hurd himself, his friend and mentor, William Warburton, Bishop of Gloucester from 1760-1779, and Warburton’s two friends, the poet Alexander Pope and the entrepreneur and philanthropist, Ralph Allen of Bath. The range of these men’s interests is reflected in the extraordinary variety of the library’s contents.
There is something for everyone: theology of course, but also history, literature, botany, science, medicine, topography and much more. Children, who are welcomed in small groups, are enchanted by engravings of birds such as the extinct dodo or finding where they live on an 18th century map; botanists can study the magnificent coloured plates of flowers in Curtis’s Flora Londinensis, 1798, students of Alexander Pope can pore over the annotations he made in his 1611 copy of Edmund Spenser’s works; historians and literary researchers of the 18th century can find rich material in the large collection of letters to and from Hurd and in the comments and opinions he wrote in his commonplace books from 1744 until his death. The room itself is exceptionally beautiful, invariably extracting the comment “Wow!” when seen for the first time.
Visitors are welcomed, both researchers and interested groups. Researchers should contact the Hurd Librarian on firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss their interests and to make an appointment. Group visits of up to 30 people can be booked by contacting the secretary of the Friends of Hartlebury Castle and the Hurd Library on email@example.com
The Hurd Library is normally open for visitors to view on Tuesdays 11am – 2pm*, Bank Holiday Mondays and Heritage Open Days. The Hurd Library Interpretation Room, open every day, offers the opportunity to delve further into the history of the library and see images of some of the rare and beautiful books in the library’s collection.
*Subject to volunteer availability, please contact the castle to confirm before you visit.
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