Charlotte Great and Small : a Life

sign

Back in early January my friend Simon over at Stuck-in-a-book, having found out that I’d read Claire Harman’s  Charlotte Bronte: A Life late last year, asked me to a write a review of it for his online publication Shiny New Books. I said I would and several brain racking weeks later presented him with this. Continue reading

Coop House in Cumbria before Christmas

we are here

The tree is decorated, the presents have been bought and the cards have been written and posted. But there’s still shopping and cooking to be done and there are gifts to be wrapped so what better time could there be to take off for a 2 night pre-Christmas break, literally away-from-it-all, at a Landmark at Netherby in Cumbria – Coop House? Continue reading

Tea and Tattle Christmas Fun

“Hello and welcome to the Tea and Tattle tearoom and Arthur Probsthain bookseller! Our story starts over 100 years ago when our bookshop was founded. Since then four generations of our family have been helping our customers to find an amazing selection of books, and more recently art and music. In June 2010, we decided that we wanted to offer our lovely customers something more and so, the Tea and Tattle tea room opened its doors.” (T&T website)

APT&T

Continue reading

A Book Launch at Middlethorpe Hall, York

Garden Equation

A couple of months ago I contacted Sally Tierney (The Yorkshire Garden Designer) as I’m hoping to improve an overgrown area of the garden and make it into a little haven of tranquility with raised beds of herbs and flowers and a special garden seat but with minimal upkeep as I am away such a lot. I liked her premise that your garden should fit into your lifestyle and not the other way round. When she first arrived in October and we talked about my ideas she christened it ‘The Reading Garden’. Sally then told me about her forthcoming publication and invited me to the book launch. Continue reading

Libraries Big and Libraries Small [3]

Dublin is a City of Words, a UNESCO City of Literature and a city with some great libraries. On my visits in May I managed to get to two of these. I’m looking forward to future trips when I may visit other literary locations across the city.

Most highly recommended to me was The Chester Beatty Library right in the centre of the city and within the walls of the grounds of Dublin Castle itself.

Dublin Castle 1

Dublin Castle

“For over 800 years Dublin Castle has been at the heart of Irish history. From the founding of the first Celtic settlement in the 1st century A.D. to every Presidential inauguration since the foundation of the state, the site has stood witness to some of the most pivotal events in the country’s history.” So it’s interesting enough just walking through the Castle precincts.

about the cbl

Chester Beatty (1875-1968) was an American mining engineer. He had been an avid collector since childhood – stamps, Chinese snuff bottles, rocks and minerals. During the first decades of the 20th century Beatty moved to Europe and began to collect European and Persian manuscripts and decorated copies of the Qur’an. He took an interest in Japan, the Orient and Egypt. He actually bought a house near the Pyramids.

CB library

He later bought modern editions but had very conservative taste. He preferred books where the text and image formed pleasing compositions. Such as here a Gregynog Press issue of The Fables of Esope, 1931.

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No photography allowed but I found the above pictures here

He loved books for their own sake as opposed to having a love for literature. He was attracted to decorated books/illustrations/iluminations and fine bindings. He didn’t like modern art and avant garde book designers, illustrators and binders are not represented in his collection. His mantra was “quality, quality, quality”. He was probably the last of the great book collectors after J. Pierpoint Morgan and Henry E. Huntington. Beatty also appreciated the 18th and 19th century print cabinets essential to the gentleman’s library.

In 1950 Chester Beatty decided to move to Ireland and he built a library for his art collection on Shrewsbury Road which opened in 1954. Upon his death, the collection was bequeathed to a trust for the benefit of the public and his priceless collection lives on as a celebration of the spirit and generosity of Chester Beatty.

I enjoyed studying the short videos demonstrating print techniques : woodcuts, engraving, etching, lithography and chromolithography. And a trust fund allows the Library to continue buying works today which complement the original collection. It was during my visit to The Chester Beatty Library that I realised that I’m really much more interested in printed books and printing methods than in the beautiful and exquisite manuscripts.

Charles Beatty summed up his life “It has all been a great adventure”.

Dublin Castle 2

The Castle Grounds and Grass Maze

Moving on from the Chester Beatty Library I headed back through the Castle precincts and after a quick lunch in the lovely Avoca store found my way to The National Library of Ireland. A friend, and fellow member of the Leeds Library, recommended to me after a recent visit “YEATS: the life and works of William Butler Yeats” [1865-1939]. It’s an almost permanent exhibition (ongoing since 2006) but it is particularly relevant this year as 2015 is the 150th anniversary of Yeats’s birth.

Yeats

The National Library of Ireland’s collection of Yeats manuscripts is the largest collection of Yeats material in a single institution anywhere in the world. This collection is at the heart of the exhibition which you can visit for yourselves here.

I was particularly interested to discover more about the life of Ireland’s national poet. He came from a family of artists and creatives. He played a huge role in the establishment of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin which he founded along with Lady Augusta Gregory in 1904 with the main aim of promoting Irish writers and artists which is still incorporated in its charter today. He had a great interest in the occult and Celtic mysticism. Many of his poems are about places in Ireland, and elsewhere.

places 1 places 2 places 3

By coincidence during my trip in May HRH The Prince of Wales and his wife The Duchess of Cornwall also visited Ireland and planted a tree at the grave of William Butler Yeats at Drumcliffe, Co. Sligo.

RTE picture of Charles and Camilla

[source]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Libraries Big and Libraries Small [2]

dlrLexicon

dlrlexicon

There’s a regular two-page spread in the Independent Traveller section of Saturday’s Independent called “Travel Agenda : Where to Go, What to Know” that gives a few pithy lines about what’s going on in the world of travel.

dlr

Approaching dlrLexicon

dlrlex

The ‘back’ of dlrLexicon

A few months ago I spotted a brief mention of the dlrLexicon, the newly opened Dun Laoghaire public library. The library was said to greet drivers as they disembarked from the Holyhead ferry. In fact there is no longer a ferry terminal at Dun Laoghaire but I knew exactly the location of the Library as many times in the past I’ve arrived at Dun Laoghaire from North Wales.

in dlr

Light and airy for studying and browsing

DLR stands for Dun Laoghaire and Rathdown. On my visit we started the day with coffee and delicious cake in Brambles Cafe on the ground floor. Later in the day we explored the other floors, looking at the views and the stock.

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The Beautiful Librarians – dlrLexicon book stock

inside dlr

Popular with all ages

The massive building is shaped like a liner, which is rather apt since a partnership has been struck between dlrLexicon and Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company in order to promote the town as a leading cruise destination. Indeed, on the day of our visit an Irish cultural variety show – music, song and dance – was laid on in the garden area. Not for cruise passengers only; free access is also offered to the public.

cruise ship

Dun Laoghaire Marina, East Pier and Cruise Liner

The Bolton Library, Cashel

On my first visit to Cashel as I travelled from Co. Waterford up to Co. Kildare I stopped off in Cashel. As I was leaving The Rock of Cashel I noticed this poster :

BL poster

Well, how could I resist when a couple of days later I found myself heading back down to Co. Cork? What an amazing treasure trove! I could hardly believe this place existed. Upstairs is even fitted out as an exact replica in miniature of Trinity College Library in Dublin where the famous Book of Kells is now housed. Bolton Library Upper Floor [Picture source]

BL sign

I think they mean William Caxton!

I parked up in Cashel and headed for the Tourist Office where a very helpful young lady rang Martin, the curator, who said he would be happy to show me around the library so drove straight to the St John’s Cathedral and was met by the enthusiastic Martin.

The bolton lib

The Bijou Bolton Library

You can read more about the treasures Bolton Library Document but I was amazed to see the world’s tiniest book – The Lord’s Prayer in German; an early Caxton printing of Chaucer; the earliest use of the word Zero; the 1493 Nuremburg Chronicle and many more treasures besides.

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The Upper Floor [source]

 

 

 

The Leeds Library Summer Day Out in Whitby

whitby view

The weather on this year’s annual Leeds Library Visit to Whitby could not have been more different from last year’s The Lake District trip. The sun shone all day and the sky was blue as blue. Perfect weather for a day at the seaside. But first stop on our journey was in Pickering where after tea and toast in the Poppies Tearoom we visited the parish church of St Peter and St Paul where medieval wall paintings have been extensively restored. Originally discovered in 1851 they were almost immediately covered over again. In the 1870s they were restored and, as the leaflet tells us :

Nikolaus Pevsner, in his series of books The Buildings of England (1966), wrote that the church has “one of the most complete series of wall paintings in English churches, and they give one a vivid idea of what ecclesiastical interiors were really like”.

Pickering church

Pickering Church

George and dragon

St George and The Dragon Wall Painting

east window

The East Window

Our day out was  primarily to visit the Whitby Literary & Philosophical Society Library and Museum housed in a purpose built art gallery in Pannett Park above the town and with views of the Abbey opposite and the sea beyond.

Museum

The Society had been founded in 1823 by a group of Whitby citizens led by The Reverend George Young, a minister of the Presbyterian church. It’s chief object was to set up and maintain a museum specialising in fossils since “Whitby is a chief town of a district abounding with petrifications and containing not a few Antiquities”.

in library

The Society’s Library Today

Initially opened in two rooms over a shop in Baxtergate it subsequently moved to several other locations in the town but finally, by the end of the 19th century the Society decided it needed more space and a new building which opened in 1931 and adjoins the Municipal Art Gallery : The Pannett Art Gallery.

pannett park and abbey

We had an introduction to the collection in a new wing added 10 years ago with funds from The Heritage Lottery Fund. The volunteer curators, Stephen and Fiona, spoke enthusiastically about the collection and the Whitby Merchant Seaman’s Muster Rolls which are an important part of it.

The Muster Rolls are a unique series of historical documents which are the surviving paperwork for the Whitby Merchant Seamen’s Hospital’s regulation of the “seaman’s sixpence”, an eighteenth century pension provision. This pension provided financial support to injured seamen and to the widows and children of seamen who died while serving on merchant ships.

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Example of Muster Roll from the Library website

They record a wealth of information about crews and ships, and offer a particularly rare insight into working men’s lives : age and place of birth; port where and when enlisted; where and when leaving the ship; name of the ship and its owners.

The Library holds on microfilm the Whitby Muster Rolls from 1747 to 1795 and also some Whitby Muster Rolls from 1800 to 1850. The Museum passed 7,000 Rolls to the Society in 2010. These require careful repair and conservation and much of the cost of this is being defrayed by The Thomas Roe Trust.

The main specialism of the Library is the Whitby local area :

Local History – collections of books, pamphlets, journals, maps, prints and manuscripts for Whitby and the surrounding area (approx. 15 miles radius)

oblique sailing

Maritime History – collections of books, Lloyds registers, and records including muster rolls, and ships’ account and log books

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Geology – extensive collection of books and journals relating to the history of geology and the internationally important discoveries of Jurassic fossils made in the 19th Century in the Whitby area

Industrial heritage – sources for the development of the alum, jet, ironstone, and potash industries and the railways in the area

Family History – many sources including printed parish registers, lists of monumental inscriptions for many local churches, wills, and indexes to wills in the York Registry

Literature and language – a small literature collection focussing on novels, poetry and plays that are either by Whitby writers or are about Whitby, and a small collection on Yorkshire dialect

After tea and biscuits we were free to visit the Library and the Museum and Art Gallery.

After a picnic lunch in the lovely Pannett Park and a final look round the Museum a fellow library member and I headed into town. After a walk along the quayside we climbed the 199 steps to the church and the Abbey for more stunning views before returning to the coach pick-up point and the return journey to Leeds.

Whitby church

Whitby Church

abbey

Whitby Abbey

view from steps

View from the Top of the 199 Steps