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. Find out more about some of the collection in the historical Hurd Library Blog.

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. The Hurd Librarians are always pleased to receive individual enquiries, both general and academic. The Library’s email address is

Group visits of up to 30 people can be booked for a library talk and tour. For more information visit our Group Visit page or contact Chantel Summerfield on

The Hurd Library is open every day* for visitors to see into, and the Hurd Library Interpretation Room 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 Library useage, please contact the Castle to confirm before you visit.


Hartlebury Castle Preservation Trust is a registered charity and relies on the generosity and support of it’s visitors and the hard work of it’s amazing team of volunteers.

Every donation matters and makes a positive impact on the work the Trust is able to do.

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