Chained Libraries…Nothing Kinky Here!

Unless you think books chained to bookshelves is sexy :) As anyone who has been reading my blog can see, I’m quite enamoured with beautiful, old libraries. I thought I would continue with that theme and feature chained libraries. These are libraries that chained their books to the shelves to prevent theft. Medieval security gates, perhaps?

Hereford Cathedral (which also can be found in my More Beautiful Libraries post) is the most well known chained  library. If you click  on the picture, it will take you to the official website where you can take a 360 degree tour of the library.

Marsh’s Library (which also has made an appearance in my haunted library series, In Dublin’s Fair Citypost) used to be a chained library and while they no longer chain their books, the bars that attached the chains to the books are still a part of the shelving.

Francis Trigge Chained Library is located in Grantham, Lincolnshire, England and founded in 1598. It was built for the Parish Church of St. Wulfram, which is one of the largest medieval churches in England.

The Royal Grammar School in Guildford, England has a small chained library but is notable for being one of the last chained libraries in a school. The library is now the Headmaster’s Study.

Merton College Library, part of the University of Oxford, is considered “the world’s oldest continuously functioning library for university academics and students”. It was founded in 1276 and the books were originally kept in a chest with three locks.

The Boys’ Division at Bolton School is located in Lancashire, England and houses a not-as-old chained library. The library received a bookcase from a donation in 1694 and started to chain the books in 1735.

Wells Cathedral is located in Somerset, England. Its library was established in the mid-fifteenth century and one of its oldest books is from 1472.

St. Peter’s Church at Wootton Wawen is located in Warwickshire, England (close to Stratford-Upon-Avon). There was an original wooden church built between 720 and 740 AD. The current church was built around its remains and was itelf built between 970 and 1040. The chained books were donated by former vicar, Rev George Dunscombe, who served from 1642-1652.

The video below is a small segment from a PBS series based around the history of computers. The video features chained libraries (I don’t know! I guess books were computers from the past!?)

And just for fun, in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the Restricted section of the library features chained books. The video below is just still shots from the invisibility cloak scene but you can see the chained library at the beginning. Look how young Daniel Radcliffe is! Funny how all of the Chained Libraries are in England. A lack of trust in English Medieval parishioners, perhaps? I hope you enjoyed my latest library list. They’re fun to make and if I get some actual comments (hint, hint), I’ll keep going with these :)

9 responses to “Chained Libraries…Nothing Kinky Here!

  1. I never really knew that libraries used to be chained. This was absolutely fascinating. I enjoyed this immensely. Please continue with your lists.

  2. Very interesting, i’d love to see more info on chained libraries!

  3. This is all very interesting, but I have not found a reference to the chained library in Wimborne Minster in your information. Wondered why that was.
    Joy

    • Hi Joy. This was not meant to be an exhaustive list of chained libraries. I just meant to highlight some of the main libraries that I discovered in my research. If I consider writing this blog again, I would be happy to include the library at Wimborne Minster.

  4. I enjoy your site. Just found it after looking for libraries that are old and the interesting things they used to do. I actually am interested in visiting some of them when my wife and I start sailing the world. We are from the USA, but plan on spending a lot of time in Europe. Keep up the good work.

  5. I’m English and can assure you there is no such county as Wenchostershire. Google it and you’ll see the whole Diocese of Wenchoster is a spoof.
    Also, Stratford upon Avon is not a ‘district'; it’s a town. Birthplace of one William Shakespeare ring any bells?

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