Friday, 15 March 2013

Unlocking the Private Library at Winchester College

The last post made it 13 blog posts so far, so I thought I had better churn another one out ASAP to move away from the 'unlucky number'

As mentioned in my last post, I was recently invited to speak at 'Unlocking the Private Library', a one day symposium organised by PhD student Carly Watson and her supervisor Dr Geoffrey Day (librarian of Winchester College) to celebrate the diverse range of collaborative doctoral research being undertaken around the UK at the moment. All of the research discussed was supported by the AHRC, and everyone who presented a paper is analysing and contextualising a little-known library or book collection, such as the Thistlethwayte gift to the Fellows Library at Winchester, the Hurd Library at Hartlebury Castle, and of course, the Cwm Jesuit Library at Hereford Cathedral!

The range of papers was incredible, and it was brilliant to see that so much amazing work is being done in this country to record and preserve our literary heritage, as well as telling the story of library and book history more generally, and the important connections and contexts that can be gathered by using the books as a starting point.

It was also very nice to be speaking as part of a panel on catholic books and libraries - other papers in this section included Abbot Geoffrey Scott talking about the Benedictine collection at Douai Abbey, and Dr Simon Johnson talking about the vast array of material at Downside Abbey. Lots more potential research visits for me here!

Keynote speaker was Mark Purcell, Libraries Curator to the National Trust. His keynote address was a breathless, whistle-stop tour of some 70 libraries of the 140 libraries that the National Trust has in its care and the many many treasures hidden within each. They have nearly all been catalogued, and are actually available on Copac to search, with lots of useful information. The day was accompanied by a visit to the exhibition of the Thistlethwayte collection in the stunning Eccles Room (pictured).

The whole experience was brilliant - delivering my paper to such a knowledgeable and expert audience was a little bit terrifying, but good experience, and it seemed to be quite well received. Lots of new friendships were formed, and future areas of collaborative work hopefully identified - strong foundations to build on!

Agenda for the day:

Unlocking the Private Library Saturday 9 February 2013 Winchester College

A one-day conference in collaboration with the University of Birmingham

10.30 am Registration and tea / coffee

10.50 am Welcome

11.00 am Session 1 – Private Libraries, Heritage and Learning

Chair: Geoffrey Day (Fellows’ Librarian, Winchester College)

Carly Watson (Doctoral researcher, University of Birmingham / Winchester College): ‘The Thistlethwayte gift to the Fellows’ Library’

Helen Williams (Senior Research Assistant, Northumbria University): ‘Circulating Private Libraries: Literary Artefacts and Off-Site Heritage Education’

12.00 pm Session 2 – Libraries for Religious Communities

Chair: Paul Quarrie (author of Winchester College and the King James Bible)

Hannah Thomas (Doctoral researcher, Swansea University / Hereford Cathedral): ‘The Society of Jesus in Wales, c.1600-1679: Reconstructing and analysing the Cwm Jesuit library at Hereford Cathedral’

Abbot Geoffrey Scott (Douai Abbey): ‘The Douai Collection’

Dr Simon Johnson (Librarian and Archivist, Downside Abbey): ‘Downside Abbey: A Beacon of Learning’

13.15 pm Lunch and exhibition viewing

14.30 pm Session 3 – Libraries in the Home

Chair: Geoffrey Day

Christine Penney (Hurd Librarian, Hartlebury Castle): ‘Books do furnish a room’

Maria Kirk (Doctoral researcher, University of Sussex / Petworth House): ‘The Petworth House plays: Book collecting in the early modern country house’

15.45 pm Break

16.00 pm Keynote address

Chair: Paul Quarrie

Mark Purcell (Libraries Curator to the National Trust)

17.00 pm Drinks, followed by a further opportunity to view the exhibition.

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