Tag Archives: uk

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 :)


More Beautiful Libraries (This Time We’ll Do the U.K.)

The second part involves libraries from Wales, England, Scotland, and Ireland

The first one is the Long Room from the The Library of Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. I saw this library last summer and it knocked my socks off! The photo just does not do it justice! It’s the largest research library in Ireland and its biggest draw is the famous Book of Kells, which is well worth seeing if you make it there!

The Book of Kells, created by Monks in 800

The National Library of Ireland is also found in Dublin and is a reference library (i.e. no borrowing privileges)

The Theology Room at St. Deiniol’s library in Wales is seen below and is considered the largest residential library in the U.K. It has over 250,000 books.

The Glasgow School of Art has the Charles Rennie Macintosh Library in Scotland. Wish I’d seen it while I was there but only had time for a tattoo…ah me, priorities…anyway, the library carries the name of Charles Rennie Macintosh as he was the architect of the school and library. He’s famous for his art nouveau style in art and furniture design.

The Signet Library in Edinburgh, Scotland was visited by King George IV who described the upper library as “the finest drawing room in Europe”.

This is the Duke of Humphrey’s Library at Oxford University in England. It’s the main research library of the University of Oxford and is one of the oldest libraries in Europe (established in 1602, making it 408 years old!).

The Hereford Cathedral Chained Library is an interesting one! The practice of chaining books was the normal practice for reference libraries starting in the Middle Ages until the 18th century. The Chained Library has been around since the 1100’s (making it close to a 1000 years old!).

Next is the John Rylands Library in Manchester, England. It’s a Victorian Gothic building and holds many illuminated manuscripts including a copy of the Gutenberg Bible.

Lastly, we have the Old British Reading Room in the British Museum, London, England. The British Museum is the oldest museum in the world (1753) and features the Rosetta Stone. The Reading Room only opened to the general public for the first time in 2000. The Reading Room sits at the heart of the Great Court and has been used by the likes of Karl Marx, Rudyard Kipling, Virginia Woolf, Oscar Wilde, W. B. Yeats, Thomas Hardy, George Bernard Shaw, and Mahatma Gandhi.

That’s it for this part…next is Europe. That one will take me while!

Thanks again for reading. Please let me know if you’re enjoying this blog or if you know of other libraries you should like me to add!