The Long Gallery
Blickling Hall has an impressive Library, with an estimated 13,000-14,000 books and manuscripts in the collection. They line the walls of the 123 feet Long Gallery. These are presently being catalogued by John Gandy who has spent the past five years sorting through the collection. It is estimated this will require a further 8-13 years to complete.
The majority of the collection originally belonged to Sir Richard Ellis (1682 -1742), a cousin of the Hobarts. Following his death this significant collection came to Blickling in the 1740's. It includes books on a wide range of topics including classical texts, arts, politics, antiquities, travel and science.
Of 12,500 books, over 10,000 were printed before 1801. The collection is packed with 'the rare, the curious, and the beautiful'. It includes magnificent illustrated books, thousands of pamphlets, medieval manuscripts, books of distinguished Provence and superb bindings.
The collection has subsequently been added to with books ranging from novels read by Caroline, Lady Suffield early in the nineteenth century, through to books of the Liberal politician Phillip Kerr, 11th Marquis of Lothian. In conversation with a national trust volunteer, I was informed there is a first edition of Jane Austen's Emma and Sense and Sensibility 'somewhere on the shelf'!
This summer the Library is undergoing conservation work. This is of course an never ending task for old properties like this. Staff are always on the look out for signs of insect infestation, and aware of the swift action needed if spotted! The damage caused by moths and beetles can be devastating and presumerably every conservationists nightmare! I left with with a phrase in my head that could be the start another piece of work - "the smallest creatures can cause the greatest damage"
I am also part of Bookscapes Collective.
Bookscapes is a group of six artists that have developed a group practice specialising in site specific interventions and exhibitions.