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.

Remembering Shakespeare….

Rosemary for Remembrance, photograph by S. Gerald

Rosemary for Remembrance, photograph by S. Gerald

You may have read our blog post last year wishing Shakespeare a very happy birthday. Don’t worry, if you’ve not seen it – you can read it here. Strangely, Shakespeare’s death is reported to be the same date of the year as his birthday – 23 April.

As we did previously we are marking the occassion by adding a spring of rosemary to the bust of Shakespeare that lives in our Great Hall. Rosemary for remembrance.

Shakespeare himself referred to this in Hamlet. Orphelia is quoted to say “Rosemarie is for remembrance, between us daie and night” Act IV. Scene 5.

And as an aside but on the same topic, our library is still in the process of getting put back together after our rewiring project and as we work on getting the books back in place there are a few ‘star’ volumes on display. One of those is our Shakespeare 2nd Folio. It might not be out on display for too much longer as our House Elves are progressing quite quickly in the Library, so be sure to come and see us soon!

Pentax Digital Camera

Shakespeare is reputed to have been caught poaching at Charlecote but today we keep coming across ShakesDucks that are hiding away – this fellow has been spotted in cook’s kitchen!

Rewiring update and a spot of filming

A few weeks ago we were joined by some of our regional marketing colleagues who were undergoing some film training. They were learning how to create and edit short films and needed some gunniea pigs! With the prospect of some short films to use, we were more than happy to lend a hand and be interviewed.

One of our team of House Elves, Michelle, took up the gauntlet and gave the team a tour of the house. She explained where we are at with the rewire….

All of our rooms are now open to visitors. Some are still underwraps but most are getting back to their usual set up. The Drawing Room which was filled with furniture under dust sheets is now back to its golden glory. All of the furniture stored here is back in the Library and Dining Room. The main rooms still affected are two (of the three) upstairs bedrooms. These are chocked full of crates but we’ve some interpretation panels to explain what is there for any inquisitive visitors!

Downstairs the billiard room still houses crates of books and the trinkets from the Library and Dining Room. We can’t put those bits back quite yet as the team are focusing on putting the books back on the shelves in the Library. This is quite a laborious task.

  1. The House Elves have to find the crates that contain the books that were on each particular shelf.
  2. Each book is laid out in order on a table. As they were packed away a bit of paper was slipped in each book with a number on it. This ensure that each book goes back in the exact order it was before.
  3. Once we know all the books are there one of the elves will go up the ladder and another will pass each individual book to them.

It can take all day to do around 4 shelves. And there are many shelves in our library. Approximately one third of the books are now back in place. Many of our visitors are enjoying the chance to see the team at work and taking the opportunity to ask lots of questions!

Why not pop along* and see how we are doing with our unpacking? For more info have a look on our website or give us a call.

* You can, of course, take advantage of our free entry weekend on 20/21 April!

Re-opening… with a rather special guest

The Drawing Room might be undercover but there is still plenty to keep our visitors interested!

The Drawing Room might be undercover but there is still plenty to keep our visitors interested!

This week we reopened the house again this week! It has been a rather busy time getting everything ready to re-open especially when we’ve been so affected by the extreme weather the past few months. We’ve been working hard behind the scenes with the help of our wonderful volunteers and reopened fully last Saturday.

We closed the doors on 23 December 2012 after our last Christmas event day. But did we put our feet up with a cuppa and enjoy the rest? Chance would be a fine thing. Our House Elves were kept very busy keeping an eye on our electricians who I think now can be termed honorary elves for the amount of time and dedication they gave to us.

It feels like it has been a long winter and the house, although now open once again, is still not quite as we remember it. Boxes with carefully packed up treasures are scattered around the house having been protected from the major works. The rewire is now complete and we have waved good bye to our electrical elves whilst we turn our attention to getting the house sorted. It will be a slow process as there is a lot to unpack!

The House elves have been rehanging the paintings in the Library prior to reopening

The House elves have been rehanging the paintings in the Library prior to reopening

The Library has around 3,500 volumes which have been wrapped up and packed away...

The Library has around 3,500 volumes which have been wrapped up and packed away…

Our Victorian Kitchen, Great Hall and Ebony bedroom are mostly back to normal but other rooms will take more work. Take the Library as an example. The 3,500 volumes took weeks and many hands to get packed up and will take just as long to get back on the shelves. If you visit us, you might well see our elves at work. During the week our house elves will be busy working in front of visitors and most happy to talk about their work.
You’ll find that we have a few of our star books on display in cases in the library. These include books personal to the Lucy family, a copy of the Merry Wives of Windsor and a Shakespeare folio. It is quite a treat to see these up close like this as they are usually on the shelves out of view! We’re also sharing the video of the House Elves rolling the carpet last summer to give visitors an insight into the work. You can watch the video here if you’ve not yet seen it…

It is lovely to have our volunteer teams back. Working in the office I hear laughing and joking from our kitchen as volunteers reunite after the winter break. And we’re enjoying catching up with them all too!

Don’t forget that we’re extending our house opening this year and will be open on Thursdays from now until the end of October! We’ve got some lovely new volunteers joining our team to help us do this and you’d be most welcome to join us. We’re still looking for a few more people to help in the house as Room Guides and in our Victorian kitchens. Please do get in touch and we’ll send you some information!

And you may be wondering who our special guest is…

Well after the news of Richard III dominated headlines earlier in the week, Sir Edmund Fairfax-Lucy (present Baronet living at Charlecote) suggested we display this…

RichardIII

This portrait dates from 1600. We are uncertain as to how or even when it came to Charlecote but we know that it is a copy of a master copy, which itself was taken from a long since lost original.

This version is slightly different to those in the Royal Collection and the National Portrait Gallery, which are of an earlier date. It was fashionable to have sets of royal portraits on display in your home, which perhaps is why it was here at Charlecote.

It is only on display for a short time so don’t miss your chance to come and see it!

Ruth, Administrator