Conserving a unique library

Book damage found in the library

Book damage found in the library

Home to around 11,000 books, Sissinghurst Castle has the third largest library in the National Trust and one of the most significant in-situ twentieth century book collections in the country. We are investing £100,000 in the conservation and improvement of the collection, to ensure that it can continue to be enjoyed by everyone, forever.

Come and see conservators at work in the library from Monday 16 March-
Sunday 12 April 2015
during Spring Book Month, and learn how we care for our delicate collection.

Book jottings


The library is rich in personal character through the owners’ annotations, and the provenance inscriptions of family, friends and a wide range of interesting cultural figures.

Additional material inserted in the books adds further interest. Items like letters, photographs and notes give us a vivid sense of their history and use. If you want to learn more about our book collection, the catalogue is available to view online at:

Own a piece of Vita's writing

Marbling the outer covers

This autumn we launched a Heritage Lottery Funded project, working with Canterbury Christ Church University to print Vita’s poem ‘Sissinghurst’, using traditional letterpress technology.

Volunteers were taught to hand typeset, print, marble and bind a limited run of one hundred copies. The finished poems are currently available and the money raised from their sale will be used to buy a table-top press, allowing us to continue to celebrate Vita’s poetry.

If you'd like one of these limited copies, for a Christmas present perhaps; ring the Property Office on 01580 710700; the suggested donation is £10.

Putting the library to bed

Covering our artifacts for the winter

From November, the library will be closed, as usual, for our normal winter working on its paintings, furniture and other artifacts.

In years gone by, it was traditionally considered good housekeeping practice in manor houses, that floors were left unprotected and the most precious objects uncovered; but only when guests were visiting.

Now on public view (and at Sissinghurst Castle our library is open for some eight months of the year) National Trust houses are visited by far more people, making protective precautions all the more necessary.

Recreating the seating fabric

Recovering the sofa in the library

During 2011, we refurbished some of the furniture in the library as the original sofa and armchair brought from Long Barn had long gone.

New seating was purchased and re-covered with a similar pattern originally chosen by Vita.

Warner and Son of Braintree, Essex, who have a textile archive, supplied the pattern called ‘Floating Magnolia-Beige on Stone’.

When you have time, the seats make a great place to stop, sit and stare and to soak up the atmosphere.