National Trust

UK's National Trust to catalogue its books collection with US funding

Around 500,000 volumes are scattered across 150 historic houses

The National Trust is embarking on an ambitious project to survey and catalogue its book collections: 500,000 volumes scattered across 150 stately houses. They reflect the personal tastes of the families who formed them and they are still kept in their original surroundings. A £2,250,000 endowment has been raised from supporters in America and the project could take ten years. Work has already been completed on one of the major properties, Kingston Lacy. Blickling Hall, whose library was built up by Sir Richard Ellys in the 1720s, represents the National Trust’s greatest collection, but there are also very important libraries in Belton House, Charlecote Park, Dunham Massey and Lanhydrock, as well as the books of Kipling at Bateman’s and Shaw at Shaw’s Corner. Arguably the most interesting of them all is that at Townend, a remote farm lying above Lake Windermere, in the Lake District. This was owned for centuries by the Brownes, a yeoman-farmer family, and their late seventeenth-century collection of books consists of religious works, local topography, husbandry and lighter reading.

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 107 October 2000