Founded in 1598, the Francis Trigge Library is the oldest public library in England, and was founded by a local clergyman who was concerned about access to knowledge by the average citizen.
Trigge left one hundred pounds for the creation of a library for “the better encreasinge of learnings and knowledge in divinitie & other liberall sciences & learning by such of the cleargie & others as well as beinge inhabitantes in or near Grantham & the soake thereof as in other places in the said Countie.”
These valuable works were originally chained to the shelves to protect them from theft, and to this day some 80 volumes remain chained, making this one of the last remaining chained libraries in England, and indeed, in the world.
Much of the collection is devoted to religious works, but it also includes classical texts and books on natural history and the arts.
Although there are very few chained libraries left in existence, a few others exist at Hereford Cathedral, and Marsh’s Library in Dublin, and small chained collections are at at the Royal Grammar School in Guildford, England, and Chelsea Old Church in London.