My favourite object… #3

Here is the 3rd installment  in our ‘My favourite object’ series. This object is quite a popular choice! It is the favourite of both our retail manager, Lauren, and Helen who is the Head of Marketing and Supporter Development in the Midlands. Could it be your favourite too?

Not long after I joined the Trust I was lucky enough to be invited to a very special day to see some of the treasures in the Charlecote Library with our National Specialist in Libraries.  Having been a regular visitor to Charlecote up until then, there were lots of objects I could have picked on for this blog….but that day left a lasting impression.  As a lover of books and libraries, they are always my favourite room in any of our places and in Charlecote’s, among many other treasures, is a Shakespeare Second Folio*.  

Photo credit - National Trust Photo Library

Photo credit – National Trust Photo Library

It feels special for many reasons….its age, intrinsic beauty, Charlecote’s proximity to Stratford and (alleged!) association with Shakespeare and his nefarious deer poaching from the estate [see the info from Lauren on this below] and its value ….not in terms of money but historically;  while First Folios are more valuable, Seconds are rarer….so the privilege not only of seeing it (that visitors often can) but also of touching it (very carefully, under strict supervision and because I am staff!) has cemented its place in my heart and relationship with Charlecote. 

Helen, Head of Marketing and Supporter Development

The Antiques Roadshow team getting up close to the Folio (Sept 2010)

The Antiques Roadshow team getting up close to the Folio (Sept 2010)

“One of my favourite items in the house at Charlecote Park, among many special trinkets and treasures is the 1632 Second Folio of William Shakespeare.

The Second Folio is actually the second edition in the same format of William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. The Second Folio was basically a page-by-page reprint of the First Folio and was published in 1632, nine years after the first was published.

The Folio sits within the magnificent library at Charlecote surrounded by an impressive collection of books amidst the family furniture to enjoy them in the golden glow of soft lighting, imposing paintings (most notably Queen Elizabeth 1st) and intricate wallpaper. This setting would only be appropriate to house such a rare book by such a formidable writer. With our location at Charlecote being so close to Stratford upon Avon, it only seems right that we celebrate this writer and its connections to the Park.

According to legend, in about 1583 a young William Shakespeare was caught poaching deer from the Park of Sir Thomas Lucy 1st. Years later he is said to have taken his revenge by portraying Sir Thomas as the fussy Justice Shallow in the Merry Wives of Windsor. The fact that the Merry Wives of Windsor is part of this Folio forces an almost a spiritual connection between Shakespeare and Charlecote. After studying many of Shakespeare’s plays whilst in education I have a deep rooted appreciation for his work; his ability to record the life and times of his age; and express relationships between each other in a witty and sometimes sarcastic manner.

During the re-wire project at Charlecote which has been ongoing work for the last nine months, I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of this book as it was one of many thousands of books which were cleaned, packed away to be stored and then replaced once the re-wiring had been completed. I could only imagine how special it must be to have such a wonder in my possession to sit and read at my leisure whilst overlooking the river Avon into the lime tree lined avenue and into the tranquil parkland beyond.”

Lauren, Retail Manager

All of the books in our library were backed away for the rewire. Now, after many hours of hard work by our house elves, they are all back in place!

All of the books in our library were backed away for the rewire. Now, after many hours of hard work by our house elves, they are all back in place!

*This object belongs to the Fairfax-Lucy family who still live at Charlecote. We are very grateful to them for allowing us to share this with you and honoured to be able to take care of such a treasure on their behalf.

If you have a special interest in books and libraries like Lauren and Helen, be sure to head over to our NT Libraries facebook group. It is full of interesting news and facts from our curator, Mark Purcell.

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