The library at Blickling

The library at Blickling Hall, Norfolk

The Trust has more books at Blickling in Norfolk - over 12,500 - than it has in the whole of Wales. With 123 feet of books on each side, the library at Blickling is so impressive that it’s easy to imagine that the books have been in Norfolk for ever.

In fact most arrived in packing cases from London in the 1740s. They originally belonged to Sir Richard Ellys, who was a cousin of the Hobarts of Blickling.
 

Sir Richard Ellys (1682-1742)

Ellys was a baronet and a wealthy landowner. 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.
 
Ellys was MP for Boston, a religious man, who refused to conform to the Church of England. He was an accomplished scholar, educated at home by his father’s chaplain, and then in the Netherlands (as a Dissenter, Ellys was barred from Oxford and Cambridge).
 

Ellys’s London Library

Ellys’s library was one of a group of magnificent libraries in aristocratic London town houses. It was available to scholars. There were no books about hunting, shooting and fishing, few plays and novels, and certainly no flashy books bought for show.
 
Ellys was a serious collector who employed a librarian. His agents bid at auctions across Europe. He was fluent in Latin and Greek and knew some Hebrew.
 
He was interested in everything: theology, politics, the arts, classical texts, history and antiquities, maps, travel and science. Most of all he was interested in books, how they were made, where they came from, who had previously owned them.
 
You can access a growing scholarly catalogue of his books here.
 

Have you seen this man?

We know of a lost portrait of Ellys by the painter Thomas Frye. Can you help us find it? If you have any information, please contact libraries@nationaltrust.org.uk or tell us on our Facebook page.