Hereford Cathedral has shared plans outlining upcoming works which will take place in its Library Building to continue to protect the artefacts in the cathedral’s care for generations to come.

The Library Building, which sits proudly alongside the West End of Hereford Cathedral, is home not only to a publicly-accessible lending library, but also to some of the cathedral’s most wonderful treasures including the Mappa Mundi world map and the largest Chained Library in the world. Due to the importance of the artefacts within this area, precise conditions must be maintained. The atmosphere is managed by a specialist system which maintains the humidity and temperature of four separate spaces; the Mappa Mundi Chamber, the Chained Library, the Archives and the Library’s Reading Room. Each area offers its own unique environmental challenge.

In addition, the development will enable a reduction in energy consumption to maintain the conditions within the building, helping not only the cathedral’s energy costs but also its environmental performance. The Library building was designed in 1993 and commissioned in 1996 and, whilst being one of the newest parts of the cathedral, the equipment which was installed during construction now no longer meets the standards required for current guidance. The works to update the plant system will be carried out by Treasure & Son of Ludlow, the contractors who originally built the Library Building, and who will replace the system using similar but modern systems which are more reliable, eco-friendly and cost effective to run.

The Mappa Mundi & Chained Library Exhibition will remain open to visitors throughout to view ‘Bound to Impress’, the latest exhibition curated by the Library and Archives team, as well as the Mappa Mundi and the Chained Library. However, to facilitate the works taking place, there will be some closures to certain areas of the Library Building from March until April.

Although closures will be kept to a minimum, current project planning envisages* that from Monday 13 March until Good Friday (7 April), visitors will not be able to access the Chained Library, and from Monday 27 March until Good Friday the Mappa Mundi Chamber will also not be accessible. The Reading Room, the cathedral’s modern day lending library, will be closed from Monday 27 February until Friday 10 March and access to certain historical collections may be restricted. 

Alan Cartwright, Head of Estates at Hereford Cathedral, said:

“The project we are about to undertake is essential for the future of the Library Building and its collections. We are fortunate that our contractors, Treasure & Son have scheduled the works to cause minimum impact to the Mappa Mundi & Chained Library Exhibition, but are grateful in advance to our visitors for their understanding of any potential disruption that may arise.”

Jennifer Dumbelton, Librarian at Hereford Cathedral, said:

“The best way of keeping collections safe for future generations is to take care of the environment in which they are stored and viewed. We are privileged to have a very special collection here at the Cathedral, and I’m so pleased these works will let us keep them in their current excellent condition,so visitors can enjoy them not just now but for years to come.”

*Please note that all dates are subject to change due to the nature of the works taking place and we aim to keep this page updated with the most relevant and accurate information. If you are making a special journey to visit the Mappa Mundi & Chained Library Exhibition during this time period we strongly encourage you to contact the cathedral office in advance to make sure the exhibition is open.