The Vyne’s library collection
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Find out what to see and do in the house at The Vyne. Explore the state rooms and servants' quarters and look out for beautiful treasures.
Discover centuries of history at The Vyne. Explore the people who shaped the estate, its royal connections to Tudor monarchs and its wartime role.
Discover what to see and do in the garden all year round at The Vyne. Explore the historic summerhouse, see what’s growing in the walled garden and take a walk by the lake.
Find out about volunteering with the team at The Vyne. With opportunities of all sorts across the house and estate, you could help protect this special place.
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