The Palace House Guides have been busy conserving the library collection, as well as sharing their Victorian clothing expertise with our younger visitors over Half-Term.
Victorian Dressing Up
During Half-Term we invited visitors to try on some of our Victorian costumes. One such garment is a dress made of the most sumptuous brown, patterned velvet with silk underskirts which have been hand-embroidered in gold thread. The most amazing thing about this outfit is the sheer weight of it; it would keep a small child very warm in the winter, but they would certainly want to retire it before the summer! It has a matching brown bonnet and delicate lace detail.
The ladies of the house would be expected to spend their evenings in front of the fire, embroidering beautiful patterns for dresses such as this one. This tradition has continued through the passions of later female members of the family. Belinda, Lady Montagu is famed for her wonderful embroidery work, which can be found upstairs in the Abbey Domus and in the New Forest Museum. Belinda, Lady Montagu is also responsible for making many of the curtains, cushion covers and throws that adorn the furniture in Palace House.
World Book Day
There is a wonderful collection of books here at Palace House, ranging from Dickens to Debrett’s! They are made up of the collection from Henry James 2nd Baron Montagu of Boughton, which includes his books from the 1700s to early 1800s, and the natural history collection of John Montagu, spanning the late Victorian era to the early 20th century.
Originally housed in what is now the Portrait Gallery, the Library moved upstairs to its current room when the house opened in 1952 so it could remain private and be used by the Montagu family during the day. One of the best features of the Library is the false bookcase door, which contains books with unusual titles such as ‘The Hospitale of Incurable Fooles’, ‘Mason’s Newe Arte of Lyinge’ and my personal favourite ‘The praise and dispraise of women’!
The guides have been very busy conserving the collection by dusting, waxing and recording each individual book; with over three thousand in the collection, every day is feeling like world book day! Guide Corinne Rowland explains “The best part of conserving the library books for me is opening the book to find a message inside the cover written from one member of the family to another or a special dedication; it makes you connect with the book even more when you know who it belonged to, it can be very emotional!”
Visitors to the House will be able to see this important conservation work taking place in the Library during our winter season. There is an extensive collection of the works of Shakespeare at Palace House, due to the family connections through their ancestor Henry, 3rd Earl of Southampton (1573-1624) who was the first patron of Shakespeare’s work.