Sunday, 5 January 2014

Studying Libraries

While I love visiting historic houses, there are a couple of rooms that always draw me in more than the others. While the bedrooms are beautiful, the sitting rooms sumptuous and the ballrooms breathtaking, it is the kitchen and the library that provide the most delight.

With the library, I'm not sure if it's because I love reading or because I have quite literally grown up surrounded by books. The shelves in my bedroom are overflowing, the wall above the four metre long desk in the family room, covered to the ceiling, and two of the walls of the lounge room are covered from floor to ceiling. And that's not to mention the boxes of books waiting for a space of their own.

Wandering around old houses/palaces it's delightful to see; not just the number of old books, but also the rooms in which one hopes the owners would to curl up on a sofa and devour each book, cover to cover.

Dating from a time when personal libraries were a status symbol, just how many of these rooms were designed with something more intellectual in mind?
How many  of these books were part of a personal collection, hand picked over the years as opposed to ordered by the yard when the room was being designed?
Has the room been adapted for the purpose, or are the books just a part of the decor; a vain attempt to make a foppish man look more intelligent than he might otherwise be?

How many rooms would I happily transpose into my own home, the perfect junction of my love of history and knowledge?

The King's Library, Brighton Pavilion, UK

'The Private Library' from Nash's Views

The Long Library, Blenheim Palace, UK

Library, Danson House, UK

Watercolour of the library at Danson House by Sarah Johnston, 1860

Warwick Castle Interior 1, Warwick UK.
Warwick Castle, UK

Strawberry Hill, UK. In 2003 before restorations began.

Strawberry Hill, UK. Restorations ongoing. 

The Library at Strawberry Hill, 1784

King George's Library at the British Museum, UK

Ham House, UK
A closer look at the fire screen reveals a world map featuring a very contemporary depiction of Australia's east coast. At the time of the 'creation in 1746, favourable winds around the Cape of Good Hope meant that the west coast of Australia had been mapped as part of the journey up to Java. The east coast would have to wait until James Cook's voyage in the Endeavour  in 1770.

Leeds Castle, UK

Musee Nissim de Camondo, France

Chateau de Compiegne, France

Let's hope at the Chateau de Compiegne and Versailles, only some of the books are faked to hide a secret door.
The Dauphin's Library, Versailles, France

Marie Antoinette's Library, Versailles, France

Louis XVI's Library, Versailles, France

Chateau de Fontainebleau, France

Chateau de Fontainebleau, France

In only one house have I found a library that contained not a single book, but that doesn't bear thinking about. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...