University Forges Important Partnership with Hurd Library

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The University of Worcester has become an official partner of one of England’s few internationally important 18th century research collections.

Hurd Library (copyright John Harcup)The University’s Early Modern Research Group has launched a partnership with the Hurd Library at Hartlebury Castle in Worcestershire, which will see the unique collection of more than 4,000 items digitally catalogued for the first time.

The Hurd Library is a unique example of a working library, formed by an 18th century scholarly bishop, which remains on its original shelves in the original room built for it. No other such collection has survived in the Anglican communion.

It was built in 1782/3 by Richard Hurd, the 98th 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.

The partnership between the Library and the University was sanctioned by the Church Commissioners, with the blessing of Dr John Inge, who, as the 113th Bishop of Worcester, is the custodian of the collection.

The Bishop said: “I am delighted about this creative partnership and I am sure that my predecessor would approve. It will be of great benefit both to the University of Worcester and to the Hurd Library.”

Two PhD students, overseen by the University's Information and Learning Services department, have now begun the process of digitally cataloguing the collection, which, once complete, will be available for the public to search.

Dr Andreas Mueller, Co-Director of the Early Modern Research Group at the University of Worcester, said: “This is an extremely important collection of 18th century literature and we feel very privileged to have been allowed to create this partnership with the Hurd Library. It is a substantial resource that, until now, has been largely untapped. Only a small number of scholars have previously used the Library.”

The Library contains 43 books from Alexander Pope’s library, 97 from William Warburton’s and 103 gifts from George III, often with the royal arms on the binding. There are also works by Hurd himself, many of them unpublished, which it is hoped will also be digitised in the future.

Dr Mueller said: “The cataloguing is key at the moment. We then hope that this partnership will help to promote the Library and its importance both nationally and internationally.”

Christine Penney, Librarian at the Hurd Library, said: “The partnership with the University of Worcester is an excellent development for the Hurd Library. The research by scholars and students which will now be possible is certain to make this internationally important collection far more widely known.”

For more information about the Hurd Library visit the website


Photograph courtesy of John Harcup