Caring for Baddesley's books

We have over 3000 books

During the recent re-servicing work at Baddesley all our 3000-plus books, some dating back to 1547, were carefully crated up and taken to Coughton Court for storage, then returned to Baddesley and replaced on the shelves.

Looking after them is very important if they are going to remain in good condition. One of our issues is dust, and during our annual deep clean each book is carefully cleaned using a soft brush and a low-powered vacuum cleaner.

One of our conservation team cleaning our books
A soft brush and a vaccuum cleaner are used
One of our conservation team cleaning our books

Another enemy is silverfish. These tiny nocturnal wingless insects, though only 13-25 millimetres long, can cause significant damage to the books. We use “blunder traps” dotted discretely around the house to monitor silverfish and other pests.

Inspecting a blunder trap for silverfish (inset)
Monitoring the pest population
Inspecting a blunder trap for silverfish (inset)

Silverfish eat sugars that are found in paper, glues used in book bindings, and even the paste used to hang wallpaper! They thrive in humid atmospheres, so an ancient moated manor house is ideal habitat for them! We constantly monitor the humidity in the property, and you may notice the heating is on more than is strictly necessary to try to keep is down. You may spot our monitors around the house – they look like walkie-talkies and you can see one on a bookshelf in the image at the top of this article.

Many of our books are in storage in the Ferrers-Walkers’ sitting room
Book storage
Many of our books are in storage in the Ferrers-Walkers’ sitting room

There isn’t room in the Library to display all our books, so many of them are stored in a sitting room, which isn’t currently open to visitors. Some of the most fragile are kept in custom-made grey cardboard boxes to keep them safe from dust, light – and silverfish!