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The Vyne’s library collection

The Library at The Vyne, Hampshire
The Library at The Vyne, Hampshire | © National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

An 18th century school boy’s doodle of a cyclops is just one of the tiny observations methodically catalogued by the collections and care team. It formed part of the work to return the entire historic library collection back to its shelves following a major £5.4 million roof project.

Book cataloguing work reveals an insight into the past

Conservation storage

During the roof project the books were packed up and held in conservation storage. All the books have now been individually checked for pests, mould and physical damage. They were then photographed and cleaned before being returned to the library shelves.

Detailed cataloguing

Cataloguing the entire library collection gave a wonderful opportunity to record centuries-old margin scribblings, pictures and personal letters. The work has enabled these annotations and drawings to be recorded for ever and will now form part of the library catalogue.

‘There are books of children’s plays that the Wiggett Chute family used to stage theatrical performances when they lived here in the 19th century. The pages are littered with directions in the margins and you can see their names written beside the parts they were to play. They really draw you into this family’s world.

– Dominique Shembry, Senior Collections & House Officer

A wide variety of topics

There are a wide variety of books ranging in topics from theology and history to languages. Novels include those by Jane Austen who was a friend of Thomas Chute. A total of 2,419 books are held in the collection with many amassed by the Chute family over 300 years.

Recycling to create the library

William Wiggett Chute’s determination to save the house from decay has helped form the immense collection. He built the library from recycled wood and furniture where he could in order to save money. Some of the interesting decoration comes from the family pew in the local church and he even took pieces from other rooms in the house too.

Volunteer examining a book as part of conservation work in the library at Greyfriars' House and Garden, Worcestershire
Volunteer examining a book as part of conservation and cataloguing work in the library at The Vyne, Hampshire | © National Trust Images/Annapurna Mellor

A hidden drawing

The book of Ancient Greek drama was written in Latin and published in 1771. It belonged to 15-year-old William John Chute, who lived at The Vyne between 1757 and 1824. This book held a hidden drawing of a cyclops and could possibly have been drawn by William.

Mathematical calculations

Found inside the book Practical measuring made easy to the meanest capacity by a new set of tables were sketches of windows for The Vyne’s towers. These drawings were accompanied by complicated calculations made by owner Anthony Chute in 1746.

We believe he may have written in the book when he was making improvements to the house. Anthony must have used the book to help him take the measurements required for the improvements to the house.

Volunteers caring for books as part of conservation work in the library at Greys Court, Oxfordshire
Volunteers caring for books as part of conservation and cataloguing work in the library at The Vyne, Hampshire | © National Trust Images/Alex Prain

Oldest book

The oldest book in the library is a 15th-century Book of Hours written in Dutch and possibly originates from Delft. This small book has a stamped leather binding with a brass clasp. The mid-brown exterior hides colourful and vibrant pages. The start of each hour is decorated with an initial painted with a blue background and gold overpaint.

Sharing new discoveries

The entire project was carried out in front of visitors so that discoveries could be shared as they were uncovered by the team. All drawings and annotations will be carefully recorded and available to researchers in the future.

A pair of Lattimo plates depicting Italian cities, in the Ante Room at The Vyne, Hampshire

The Vyne's collections

Explore the objects and works of art we care for at The Vyne on the National Trust Collections website.

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