Mark Purcell, the National Trust’s Libraries Curator, runs a thriving open Facebook group called National Trust Libraries. There he shares fascinating facts, discoveries and images to do with the books and library rooms in the care of the National Trust.
He just posted the above image of the Library at Dunster Castle, Somerset, which he says is not a particularly important with regard to its books, but is definitely an evocative example of a Victorian library sitting room.
The room was created in 1870-1 by the architect Anthony Salvin for the owner of Dunster, George Fownes Luttrell and his wife Anne Elizabeth.
Salvin was known for his work remodelling ancient castles such as Alnwick in Northumberland. The Luttrells similarly wanted to bring their own castle into line with Victorian levels of comfort and efficiency, but at the same time to preserve and enhance the medieval and Jacobean elements of the building.
Although the £25,000 budget at Dunster was only about a tenth of that at Alnwick, Salvin made various changes both inside and out which were meant to look as if they had been gradually added over the centuries. At the same time that did not prevent him from installing gas lighting, central heating, running hot water and the latest kitchen equipment.
Another example of Salvin’s picturesque work can be found at Scotney Castle in Kent. And Mark Purcell, as many of you will know, has recently published a book about historic Irish libraries.