Google+ Followers

Friday, 27 February 2015

Charlecote Park Library and Book Conservation

Last week I had the pleasure of spending a few days with Book Conservationist Caroline Bendix and her assistant, intern Giorgia Genco. They were at Charlecote Park for 3 days, surveying and mending some of the old books. I was asked if I minded popping in to take a few photographs. Of course I did not mind, I love books!
I found it all so interesting that I stayed around for much of the days they were there. The first two days were spent surveying the books and it was lovely that much of this was done while the house was open allowing visitors to see what was going on. It also gave visitors a chance to see some of the books up close. Something I really enjoyed too.

I love history and books contain so much of it, not just in the words written on the pages but how they were made and what was used. It all helps to build the history of times gone by.

Charlecote Park has one of the most important libraries within the National Trust and holds some very important books including the very rare '1632 Second Folio of Shakespeare's Works'. The 'Second Folio' is also known as the 'Second Edition' and is printed in the same format as the First Folio only nine years later. This library contains many wonderful treasures and being a lover of books and libraries, I was very happy to be spending my time there.

The Book Conservationists work in many libraries and each time they come back to Charlecote, another section of the library is surveyed. Book Conservation takes time and also costs a lot of money which has to be raised. All books are treasured possessions and treated as such and need special care to make sure they last for future generations. They are part of our history and should be preserved. Charlecote are in the process of trying to raise money for the library so that hopefully, all these beautiful books will be here for a few more hundred years, if not longer.

 The works Catherine and Giorgia do is very important, not just in Charlecote's library but to all libraries they care for. Without the work they and other conservationists do, we would not have half the treasures we have today. I for one, am very grateful to them all.

One of the books they were surveying was 'The Lucy's of Charlecote by Mary Elizabeth Lucy' I believe it is one of three books Mary Elizabeth wrote on the history of her family for her children.

There are some lovely clips of history inside this book. This one I really liked. 'Paid Mr Twinings £1 4s , a pound for what was then called finest imperial tea'. They loved their tea!

This book doesn't just contain the price of produce, it contains  a wealth of knowledge from letters from Cromwell and Parliament reporting history as it happens to personal letters from family members which also documents events through time. I was able to carefully photograph some of the pages. I am still reading through much of them and I am totally engrossed. In the back of the book is this beautiful picture of Mary Elizabeth and her son Reginald Aymer Lucy which I photographed and did a little conservation work on myself. I love old photographs and I love trying to repair them.You will probably notice I did say 'son' and he is dressed like a girl. That was something that was done in old days and can be very confusing when looking at old paintings of children.

The original picture in the book. 

With a little clean up.
                 In Black and white and sepia. I could not decide which I liked best.

I walked into Charlecote Library on Friday to find books wrapped in bandages. Apparently they work very well in helping to repair them and are gentle enough not to cause any damage. I guess if they work for us, why not books too?

Caroline and Giorgia were using a special paste to repair the books. It is a wheat starch paste. Water is added to wheat flour which has had the gluten removed to prevent staining and then cooked until the starch molecules burst. This gives a reversible adhesive that sticks for centuries and is very similar to what would have been used in the days the books were made.

A very delicate Japanese tissue paper is also used which weighs around 18gsm . This makes it very fine and flexible and the perfect item to repair these beautiful books. Many of the books had to have special folders made for them which were cleverly made. They protect the older books from further damage but are invisible on the library bookshelves once the books are put back. The work Caroline and Gorgia are doing will last a good 400 years plus and is essential to preserve these books for our future generations. Such patience and skill is needed for this work.

I watched visitor after visitor watch with great interest and it wasn't just the adults.

 Caroline had a lovely way of explaining what they were doing and she was great with the children, even allowing them to help a little where possible.

 I think it was a lovely idea to allow visitors to view what conservation work is all about. It was very interesting and these children were here for some time. Caroline was happy to answer any of their questions and mine. I think this must have been the busiest room in the house last week. There was so much interest from so many people.

           First aid on books. I have seen it all now :)

After watching Caroline and Giorgia last week, I really appreciate all types of conservation work, not that I didn't before but I have now had my eyes opened a little wider. Such dedication.

 A big thanks to both Caroline and Giorgia for allowing me to observe them, take photos and fire many questions at them last week. Thank you. I had a really lovely week and learned so much.

For more about Caroline and her work...

For Charlecote Park

                                           Copyright  Jana Eastwood

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Winter feeding at Charlecote Park

Winter is so different at Charlecote Park. It is a quieter time to reflect as you walk around the park and gardens which I really enjoy. I love this time of year. You never really know what the mornings will bring.
As you walk around the park you could almost be fooled into thinking you were alone on the estate or that the park was yours. Well, we all dream from time to time :) Not everyone likes early mornings but to me they are the best part of the day especially when you are out with nature.
Just before the Sun comes up and for about half an hour afterwards is the best time to see many wildlife creatures. The Owls are hooting, birds are tweeting, wild hares are up and darting around and last week I managed to see my first red fox for a long time. Unfortunately I couldn't photograph it as it was too quick for me plus I had the wrong lens on my camera at the time. It is how it goes sometimes. You can't always photograph everything but you can watch and admire the view.

It might be colder and there might be less people around at Charlecote during the winter months but still the work goes on. The house elves have been very busy getting the house cleaned and ready for the opening which was a couple of weeks ago. The office staff have been busy keeping everything going day to day and planning for the year ahead and the gardeners and rangers are out in all weathers doing what they do best, looking after the estate, caring for the animals and preparing the gardens for the beautiful displays that will adorn them in the coming months.

I thought it would be nice to do a little behind the scenes look at some of the things that go on during the Winter months, starting with the feeding of the animals and continuing from a previous blog.

Most of the year the deer and sheep graze the land happily as there is plenty for them to eat. During the Winter months, they are given a little helping hand. As the Sun comes up, someone is out on the feed run, loading the buggy several times until all the animals are fed.

I go in early from time to time to catch the feeding of the animals as well as the sunrise. On one of my recent visits, I had a perfect morning, the ground was frozen, the Sun was just coming up and there was a low mist on the land which gave me a very beautiful view. A perfect start to the day.

'Sheep in the mist'

The sheep kindly posed for me while I was waiting for the deer feeding to start.

The deer waiting for their feed.

Paul was feeding the animals this day and he was with Rosie, the lovely volunteer coordinator who  was taking photos from inside the buggy. I have to say, Rosie takes some lovely photos herself which you might have seen on Facebook and Twitter. I have some serious competition there :)

For the deer feed, I switched my camera into video mode because I don't think you can appreciate the view in still photos.

I did take a couple of photos but not many.

After the deer in West Park it was on to Polo to feed the Jacob sheep. They were also waiting for their breakfast!

Jacob sheep, like all sheep, graze all day long. In Winter they are given hay and sugar-beet to help get them through the colder months before everything starts to grow again. The sheep love the sugar-beet. They will push and shove each other about getting to it.

Just like the deer, they will also follow the food and you can often see them all charge across the field to where the buggy stops.

Here are a couple of photos from a previous morning.

I always find the fighting for the sugar beet funny as there is plenty for everyone but they fight over the same pieces while there are untouched beet just a few feet away. Don't worry, they get eaten too!

The older sheep always go for the beet first, then they eat the hay. The lambs eat it the other way around.

             Paul and David out feeding the animals together.

After the sheep in Polo were fed, it was off to feed last year's lambs which, as you will see have grown.

Like all youngsters, they also get covered in their food!


This next photo reminds me of the old film 'The Lady and the Tramp' Who needs spaghetti when you have hay?

The lambs eat the hay first because it is easier for them as they graze all the time. They have to learn how to eat the sugar beet but it doesn't take them long and they, like the older sheep, love it too!

When the sheep are in the main area of the park, be it Hill Park or West Park, you have to watch the deer. They are a little greedy and love the beet too! An electric fence doesn't stop them stealing the sheep's food!

                     It's like watching a game of high jump!

 The deer in Main Park also have to be fed and they are waiting for the sound of the buggy.

The ground is frozen beneath their feet but  they have their winter coats on and adjust to the colder weather just fine. During the Winter you can only see the spots on the lightest of the fallow deer. The deer everyone thinks of as the 'Bambi' deer with it's tan coloured fur and beautiful white spots, change to a darker thicker coat as in the picture below. In a few weeks that will start to change again and you will once more see the Summer coat.

The next photo shows you the Summer coat with a heavily pregnant doe on the right.

I watch the deer often. I find a quiet place and study their behaviour which I find really interesting. I now know when the park is open by the way the deer react and not by seeing any visitors. It is the same as the buggy with their breakfast, they can hear it well before I can which always gives me a warning to get my camera ready.

I have to admire the Park and Garden team who both look after the animals. They are out in all weather making sure the animals are fed, healthy and well looked after.

Rain, snow, frost or thick fog, they are there and it is not until you are out there with them, that you can really appreciate all they do. This I have shown you is just the beginning of the day, there is a lot more work to be done.

Matt on a very cold foggy morning.

At the end of any morning feed comes a very welcome tea break .....and cake! All before the park opens.

A big thanks to both the Park and Garden team for allowing me to tag along so often. It is much appreciated and something I really enjoy. Thank you.

                                        Copyright Jana Eastwood