Imagine a world without books...

Close up of Blickling's book collection

Containing over 12,500 volumes, Blickling's library is the most prestigious collection held by the National Trust. 

The story of the library

We are currently in the midst of a five-year conservation project to catalogue every book in the library. Containing over 12,500 volumes, the impressive eighteenth century Long Gallery library is the most prestigious book collection held by the National Trust. 

Most of these books were bequeathed by Sir Richard Ellys in the 1740s when Sir John Hobart, the 1st Earl of Buckinghamshire owned the estate. 

Discover the story behind the thousands of books in the library at Blickling, Norfolk
The library at Blickling Hall, Norfolk
Discover the story behind the thousands of books in the library at Blickling, Norfolk

Sir John Hobart, 1st Earl of Buckinghamshire (1693 - 1756)

Sir John inherited his title at the age of five, when his father was killed in a duel. Upon returning to the estate after achieving a fine education, the Earl commissioned full-length portraits to be displayed in the Long Gallery. However later in life, when he was bequeathed the vast collection of books from Sir Richard Ellys, all the portraits we removed to make space.

Sir John Hobart, 1st Earl of Buckinghamshire
Sir John Hobart, 1st Earl of Buckinghamshire
Sir John Hobart, 1st Earl of Buckinghamshire

Sir Richard Ellys (1688 - 1742)

As well as being a wealthy baronet and land owner, Sir Richard Ellys was a renowned scholar and bibliophile.  His own family seat was Nocton Hall, near Lincoln, which burned down in 1834. He also owned a country retreat at Ealing, and a London mansion in Bolton Street, off Piccadilly.

Sir Richard Ellys
Sir Richard Ellys
Sir Richard Ellys

After Ellys' death, in anticipation of receiving the collection, Sir John converted the Long Gallery into a library and spared no expense in the process. He employed craftsman Joseph Pickford to carve a marble fireplace and Peter Scheemakers (known for Shakespeare's memorial at Westminster Abbey), to sculpt a bust of Sir Richard Ellys.

 

Visit us every day

Visit us any day of the week to find out more about this impressive collection and observe some of our fascinating conservation work in progress. We are open 363 days throughout 2018, so feel free to come and explore, whatever the weather.

John Gandy, librarian of the Blickling collection
Man sits on the top of a ladder reading a book
John Gandy, librarian of the Blickling collection

Second-hand bookshop

Find yourself a hidden treasure in our extensive second-hand bookshop and lose yourself in a good read. Open every day of the week, our bookshop is located in the Farmyard and is the largest of its kind in National Trust. 

All funds raised go towards vital conservation projects across the estate. Last year, with your help, we raised over £100,000 from book sales and this allowed us to restore the 1930s walled garden into a functioning kitchen garden, providing fresh produce for our cafés. Take a look on your next visit and see what's growing, your support really does make a difference.