As simple as ABC

The Library at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire. Note the use of large sheets of mirrored glass. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Four times a year the National Trust publishes the ABC Bulletin. This is a free e-newsletter discussing the latest projects in the areas of curatorship and conservation. The Spring 2010 issue has just come out, featuring:

  • The loan and restoration of the Londonderry state chariot
  • The stories behind a Reynolds group portrait
  • The restoration of a Dutch genre scene at Grantham House
  • Anglesey Abbey’s bling books
  • National Trust libraries online
  • The wooden water mains of London
  • King Charles I celebrated at Lyme Park
  • Torcheres at Saltram restored
  • Enhancing the visiting experience for blind and partially sighted people
  • Speke Hall’s sensory trail
  • Recent acquisitions

The article about the books at Anglesey Abbey, written by our libraries curator Mark Purcell, describes some of the treasures to be found there.

Lord Fairhaven with his mother, Cara Rogers, on board her yacht Sapphire. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Huttleston Broughton, 1st Baron Fairhaven (1896-1966), who was to inherit American-made fortunes from both his father and his mother, bought Anglesey Abbey in 1926. He created an important garden there and furnished the house in plutocratic style. He generously left the estate to the National Trust, together with an endowment for its upkeep.

Fairhaven’s collections are shown in settings of Holywood-style glamour. When James Lees-Milne stayed at the house in 1946 he was perturbed by the central heating in his bedroom, a rare and almost decadent luxury at the time.

One of the splendid bindings in the library at Anglesey Abbey. This is a copy of Thomas Gray's 'Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard'. ©NTPL/John Hammond

One of Lord Fairhaven’s hobbies was collecting rare books. Not only are there many books with beautiful bindings in the library, but there is also a very large collection of colour plate books from the Regency period, the heyday of such publications.

The opulent setting: some of the East Asian objets d'art collected by Lord Fairhaven's mother, in the Lower Gallery at Anglesey Abbey. ©NTPL/Dennis Gilbert

Mark is planning to publish an illustrated catalogue of the Anglesey Abbey library, written together with William Hale and David Pearson.

14 Responses to “As simple as ABC”

  1. columnist Says:

    The Asian objets look gorgeous because there are so many of them, and because there are so many colours. I tend towards minimalist monochromatic, but this display looks stunning. Not a joy to clean, mind. And potentially hazardous when others do it I find.

  2. columnist Says:

    In your first picture you say “note the sheets of large mirrored glass”, and I couldn’t see them at all. But now I do! An extended library…

  3. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Yes, Mark Purcell irreverently compares the grand theatricality of this room (designed by Sidney Parvin) to the Batcave. The fitted wall-to-wall carpet is also interesting as something that was relatively new and glamorous at the time.

    As you probably know, there used to be rigorous training in housekeeping techniques at grand houses such as Anglesey Abbey. At places like Waddesdon Manor (where the Rothschilds are still very much involved) there has been an unbroken tradition of such housekeeping regimes, and many of the National Trust’s housekeeping guidelines have been based on those.

  4. littleaugury Says:

    absolutely gorgeous Asian objects, especially the amethyst , my stone of choice. I just have to say-Your posts are priceless, Your relatively brief time blogging has been such an addition to my own knowledge. I will be checking into the ABCs. pgt

  5. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Gaye, encouragement from people like you makes it worth-while! But I am really only handing on the work and knowledge of our curators, conservators, photographers, etc.

  6. style court Says:

    Emile —

    Beautiful bindings indeed. Now see, this represents the type of shelf space I need so that I can keep more than 500 books around 🙂

    Appreciate the heads up about the catalog and newsletter.

  7. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Or you could add a few wall-size mirrors, so that your 500 choice books look like 1000 books 🙂

  8. Barbara Says:

    Sent off to receive my ABC Bulletin by email. Thanks, once again.

  9. Karena Says:

    Emile, the images are fabulous in detail, the binding, the asian objects’.

    Thank you for sharing with us.

    Art by Karena

  10. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Karena, You are very kind. I thought the East Asian carvings gave a good impression of the richness of the Fairhaven collections.

  11. Janet Says:

    Thank you for the ABC link. Looks like a great issue.

    Love the plate mirrors…a device I think I shall be using myself.

  12. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Come to think of it, it could almost be Jay Gatsby’s mansion, couldn’t it? I wonder where the film version of The Great Gatsby with Robert Redford was shot?

  13. Janet Says:

    Oooooh…that was filmed in Newport…at The Rosecliff and Marble House mansions.

  14. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Somehow I knew that you would have that information to hand 🙂

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