The Hurd Library at Hartlebury

The Hurd Library was built in 1782/3 by Richard Hurd, Bishop of Worcester

THE HURD LIBRARY 2018-01-09T15:50:38+00:00

The Hurd Library

The Hurd Library was built in 1782/3 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 Friends of Hartlebury Castle and the Hurd Library have been caring for the Library since September 2008, by kind permission of the Bishop of Worcester, who is and will remain the owner of the books. Tours of the Hurd Library are available for pre-booked groups. Book a group tour.

Several catalogues in manuscript have been made since the 18th century, in 1783, 1789, 1819, 1844 and 1909, but the first really authoritative one was compiled by Graham Cartwright as part of his M.Litt. thesis at the University of Birmingham in 1980, supervised by Dr B.S. Benedikz. This is an invaluable guide to the library and is accompanied by a short history and appreciation of it. An Online Catalogue is being produced in conjunction with the University of Worcester and can be found here…

The library’s importance is demonstrated by the richness of its provenances (signatures, inscriptions, marginal notes and bookplates), by its early printed and famous books, by the variety of its subject matter and by the sheer beauty of its appearance.  There are 43 books from Pope’s library, 97 from Warburton’s and 103 gifts from George III, often with the royal arms on the binding. Double provenances appear in some volumes; for example, Pope’s Greek New Testament, 1543, was given to him by Jonathan Swift.  Other treasures include:

  • One incunable – the Lyons  edition of Voragine’s Legenda aurea , 1476 ( Warburton’s copy)
  • Pope’s copy of Sidney’s Arcadia, 1613 and his copy of Spenser’s Faerie Queen, 1611
  • Appian’s Romanorum historiarum, 1551, given by Lord Sandys to Hurd in 1784. (The Sandys family still lives locally)
  • Works of Saint Augustine, 1569, inscribed by a former Bishop of Worcester, John Prideaux, many of whose books are in the Cathedral Library
    A Breeches Bible, 1599
  • Bewick’s History of British birds, 1797
  • Robert Burton’s Anatomy of melancholy, 1638
  • Dugdale’s Antiquities of Warwickshire, 1656
  • Eikon Basilike, 1649
  • Richard Hooker’s Laws of ecclesiastical polity, 1594
  • Hugh Latimer’s Sermons, 1578
  • Nash’s Collections for the history of Worcestershire, 1781-2, with contemporary  prints and  watercolours added by Bishop Hurd’s nephew, including  views of the construction of the library
  • Newton’s Opticks, 1730
  • A Cicero, 1772 and a Pufendorf, 1758, given to Hurd by his two royal pupils, the Prince of Wales and Prince Frederick
  • Several books printed by John Baskerville, the great 18th century printer from Birmingham
  • Camden’s Britannia, 1600
  • Castiglione’s Il libro del cortegiano, 1528, printed at the Aldine Press in Venice
  • A Book of Common Prayer, 1552, bearing the Stuart royal arms on the binding
  • The 4th and 7th editions of Johnson’s Dictionary
  • William Mason’s Poems, 1764 (given to Hurd by the author)
  • Thomas Chatterton’s Poems, 1782

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