Blickling's Library on Borrowed Time

Blickling’s nationally important book collection is under attack from death watch beetle, damp and mould. With your help we can conserve the building to prevent on-going damage to the collection.

The Long Gallery at Blickling
  • We care for around 12,500 books in Blickling's library
  • The oldest book is 900 years old
  • A recent survey revealed 758 death watch beetles!
A book showing signs of death watch beetle damage

A new chapter for Blickling's library

There’s a huge amount of conservation work that’s needed in the Long Gallery at Blickling, from the timber that supports the library to the books themselves. Our biggest challenges are mould, woodworm and death watch beetle. If we can overcome these, the collection can be enjoyed by future generations.

The story so far

The library at Blickling Hall, Norfolk

The Library

The library doesn't just hold the most significant book collection in the National Trust, it's also the largest in our care. The vast majority of the collection originally belonged to one man, Lincolnshire scholar Sir Richard Ellys. Following his death, he left the collection to his cousin, the 1st Earl of Buckinghamshire, who lived at Blickling.

Close up of Blickling's book collection

A collection worth saving

There are so many amazing and precious books we need to save. The collection includes the National Trust’s oldest book, the very first Bible that was ever printed in English, medieval illuminated manuscripts, 70 incunabula and first editions of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Emma.

Man sits on the top of a ladder reading a book

We're on a mission

Librarian, John Gandy, has spent the last eight years cataloguing the collection so that we’ll have a complete record of every single book in the house, enabling anyone anywhere in the world to finally find out what’s in the library. It's not simply a case of gathering the book's title and who wrote it either, there is a wealth of detail that John's recording.

Donate to Blickling's Library on Borrowed Time

Please select an amount

£15 will replace a broken tile, to help keep the library watertight
£33 will replace a brick that has eroded, preventing water from decaying timber in the future
£355 will replace a rotten joist, which has been eaten by death watch beetle
Or enter your own amount
The challenge ahead
Timbers turned to dust by death watch beetle

So many books, so little time

Our first job is to fix the leaks, repair the walls, fix rotten timbers, prevent mould growth, slow down the damage being caused by pests and death watch beetle, and create the right environmental conditions for temperature and humidity that the collection needs. So not much then. We'll only be able to do all this with your support.

" The library here at Blickling is absolutely magnificent – from Medieval manuscripts all the way through to Jane Austen first editions. Some titles are unique to Blickling, and with others, there are only a small number of copies in the world."
- John Gandy, Librarian

Why give to the National Trust?

As a charity, we rely on the generosity of supporters to look after the irreplaceable treasures in our care. Memberships help to pay for some of the work we do. But they only go so far. Additional donations are crucial to maintaining our collections, from stunning works of silverware to personal keepsakes that bring the past to life. Your donation will go towards this project and other vital conservation work to our collections at this special place. With your support, we can continue to conserve, protect and provide access to these fascinating pieces of history. For everyone, for ever.

Donate now to support Blickling's Library on Borrowed Time