Florence Court’s collection of historical books for its annual spring cleaning



A team of National Trust staff and volunteers are about to begin a spring cleaning of the historic book collection at a stately property in Co Fermanagh.

Love and the utmost care are taken to examine each book at Florence Court for potential molds, insects and woodworms.

Speaking ahead of World Book Day on Thursday, collections assistant Heather Hamilton said each title takes around 20 minutes to check, clean and catalog.

The collection of 1,400 books was put together by the family who lived in Florence Court.

“More specifically, during the 19th century, the 3rd Earl of Enniskillen became passionate about natural history books and Charlotte, the 4th Countess of Enniskillen, collected many books on flowers and gardening,” said Ms. Hamilton said.

It includes a number of special articles, some of which date back to the 16th and 7th centuries, including Sylva by John Evelyn, The Morall Law Expounded by Lancelot Andrewes, Respublica HollandiÆ and urbes by Hugo Grotius and the Family Bible which contains the records. births, marriages and deaths.

Ms Hamilton said her favorite was Natural History Bird Ornithology.

“It’s a beautifully illustrated book with hand painted birds. The book was published in Paris in 1767 and even over 250 years later the colors are still vibrant, ”she said.

Each spring, the collection is cleaned and cataloged.

“We use a variety of off-the-shelf tools including nitrile gloves, masks (to prevent mold spore inhalation), a HEPA filter vacuum and a range of specialty brushes,” she said. .

“We also prepare the work area, so that the book is protected from any further damage, this includes coating the surface and resting the books on custom supports while cleaning.


Florence Court at Co Fermanagh (National Trust / PA)


Florence Court at Co Fermanagh (National Trust / PA)

“Books are regularly checked for mold, insects, woodworms, etc. Fortunately, we don’t have insect infestations, but mold can sometimes be a problem. It is carefully removed using a pony hair brush, while wearing a mask and brushing it in a box with a museum vacuum attached.

Florence court remains closed to the public under coronavirus regulations.

Ms Hamilton said the team was eager to reopen and show visitors the work that went on during the lockdown to take care of the property.

For more information on Florence Court and its collections, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/florence-court

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