At the sea side (Erddig)

 

Working at Sudbury’s Museum of Childhood has reminded me of other children’s literature I’ve come across over the years. One of the great features of country house libraries is the presence of books aimed at children that have survived the vigorous reading practices of the very young (not quite like the model child on the left, in other words). Continue reading

Tips for tricyclists (Erddig)

Front cover of Tips for tricyclists by Professor Hoffmann

Front cover of Professor Hoffmann’s Tips for tricyclists. In publisher’s pictorial paper boards.

 

With summer (kind of) upon us and the Tour de France starting in about a fortnight, this week’s post features a wonderful little book from Erddig.

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Lady Verney’s memoir of John Hawksley (Erddig)

One of the great privileges of being a freelance rare books Erddig compressedlibrarian is of course having access to the amazing range of materials in environments as diverse as university libraries and historic houses. Whenever I find something of interest, I try to find out a bit more about the item (or collection) and post it here.

This week, inspired by a recent post about unusual workspaces, we return to Erddig in the Welsh marches.

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Unusual workspaces (1)

Lady Londonderry's Sitting Room, Mount Stewart. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Mystery library space? ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

No brownie points or cake for anyone guessing where this might be (sorry!), apart from it being my upcoming workplace for a few weeks… This is therefore also a segue into more regular blog posts, which I realise is something that has slipped off my radar rather dramatically over the past few months.

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The ‘dead cities’ of the Zuiderzee

http://www.henkvanheerde.nl/vollenhove/visserij/visserij15eeeuw.htm

Map showing the Zuiderzee area. Appears under a creative commons licence at http://www.henkvanheerde.nl/vollenhove/visserij/visserij15eeeuw.htm.

Continuing on the theme of travel, in this post I concentrate on a book with the curious title The dead cities of the Zuyder Zee which I found at Erddig. Before the construction of the Afsluitdijk in 1932, the IJsselmeer was open to the sea – although by the time it was closed off, much of it had begun to silt up, leaving the communities which depended on the sea for their livelihood completely destitute. However, during the Dutch Golden Age, cities like Hoorn, Enkhuizen, Volendam, and Stavoren had thrived as bustling trading and fishing harbours. Where siltification was less pronounced, such as at Kampen, the sea still provided some source of income, while Amsterdam benefited greatly from the construction of the Noordzee Canal and trade with the Dutch colonies. Continue reading

Erddig, Wrexham (4): More children’s books

IMG_0758Going through the photographs of my cataloguing project at Erddig again over Christmas, I stumbled upon an image of this lovely rocking seat, originally located in the Nursery. As I mentioned before, Erddig is very similar to Calke Abbey: both houses are full of stuff! As with children’s books, much-loved children’s toys tend not to survive, but Erddig is very fortunate to have a large collection of nineteenth and early twentieth-century children’s toys and books. Continue reading

Erddig, Wrexham (3): The Cust connection

IMG_0724“Read with much fun in 1911, LMY”. Whether this was meant as a sincere expression – or not – of her appreciation of the “indifferent verse” written by Maria Eleanor Vere Cust, her husband’s cousin-once-removed, Louisa Yorke clearly left one of her trademark comments after reading the volume. “Indifferent verse” is how Maria Cust’s biographer describes the poetry presented in Lucem sequor and other poems (1906), and to judge from an earlier privately printed publication, Songs of sunshine and shadow (1903), the comment is fairly apt. Both works at Erddig are inscribed to Maria’s father, the orientalist Robert Needham Cust, for whom she worked as a secretary. Although the name “Cust” appears infrequently in the Erddig book collections outside the Library, it highlights the continuing connections between the two families. Continue reading

Erddig, Wrexham (2): children’s books

kiddy

Clip art (copyright unknown)

The survival of children’s books is sometimes one of the great strengths of country house libraries. How many of us still have the books we read as kids? How many books survive the rather unpractised handling skills of young children (my favourite book certainly didn’t make it unscathed…) or the pens, pencils, paint, food, bath water to which these books might be subjected?

Chances are that if a historic children’s book hasn’t become part of a museum or library collection, the odds are much against it. In the past, I’ve catalogued small numbers of nineteenth-century children’s books at Calke Abbey and I was really pleased to find some at Erddig.  Continue reading

Erddig, Wrexham (1)

Quick post this week again – sorry! I’ve just started at Erddig, a few miles across the Welsh border near Wrexham, for a six-week book cataloguing project. I hope to continue blogging about items in the Hatfield collection, but also to post a few images from this National Trust property in due course. Continue reading