A Haunted Library

Last Saturday was truly a remarkable day, reason for joyful celebration. It was Beer Day and World Book Day. To celebrate this day appropriately, we went to Felbrigg, a 17th century English Hall with a dark Gothic-style library that is even haunted, in keeping with the style.

Vergangenen Samstag war ein wirklich bemerkenswerter Tag, Grund zum fröhlichen Feiern. Es war der Tag des Bieres und der Weltbuchtag. Um diesen Tag angemessen zu begehen, fuhren wir nach Felbrigg, eine englische Hall aus dem 17. Jh. mit dunkler Bibliothek im gotischen Stil, in der es stilkonform sogar spukt.

National Trust property, Felbrigg Hall in North Norfolk

As lovers of books, we approached Felbrigg with awe. This collection of rare books was created by the bookworm William Windham III (1750-1810). Selma 🙂 noticed the novelty immediately. The books were covered with vellum. This not only helps against dust, but also against the gnawing bookworms, which devour knowledge unimpressed.
Siri 🙂 and 🙂 Selma were immediately keen to try it out in our library. Vellum, the polished calfskin that replaced parchment as the carrier of writing, doesn’t have to be, they thought, and now want to try it with paper. “A lot of cutting,” warned Dina.

Felbrigg näherten wir uns als Liebhaber der Bücher voll Ehrfurcht. Diese Sammlung seltener Bücher wurde von dem Büchernarren William Windham III (1750-1810) angelegt. Selma 🙂 fiel die Neuerung sogleich auf. Die Bücher waren mit Vellum abgedeckt. Das hilft nicht nur gegen den Staub, sondern auch gegen die nagenden Buchwürmer, die Wissen unbeeindruckt vertilgen.
Siri 🙂 und 🙂 Selma waren gleich Feuer und Flamme, das auch bei uns auszuprobieren. Vellum, das geschliffene Kalbsleder, das das Pergament als Träger der Schrift ablöste, muss es nicht sein, meinten sie und wollen es nun mit Papier probieren. “Große Schnibbelei” meinte Dina.

A seriously good idea to use vellum as a dust cover.

William Windham haunts his library, goes the rumour. A true book lover, he died as a result of rescuing his friend’s library full of valuable books. The books were rescued, Windham died of a leg wound sustained during this action.

William Windham geistert in seiner Bibliothek, geht das Gerücht. Als echter Büchernarr starb er an der Folgen der Rettung der Bibliothek seines Freundes voller wertvoller Bücher. Die Bücher wurden gerettet, Windham starb an einer Beinwunde, die er sich bei dieser Aktion zugezogen hatte.

Our book fairies diligently researched dusty magical tomes where they found that you can summon ghostly booklovers in their former library by arranging the books in a certain order.

Unsere Buchfee recherchierten emsig in verstaubten magischen Folianten, wo sie fanden, dass man in ihrer ehemaligen Bibliothek geisternde Büchernarren herbeirufen kann, indem man die Bücher in einer bestimmten Reihenfolge anordnet.

Felbrigg is overshadowed by Blickling – both libraries are maintained in an exemplary manner by the National Trust – whose library has famous manuscripts and incunabula. That’s where we’re going next year for World Book Day, but now the beer must be honoured, there’s Leffe blond and Franziskaner naturtrüb and for Dina London Pride.

Felbrigg steht im Schatten von Blickling – beide Bibliotheken werden vorbildlich vom National Trust gepflegt – dessen Bibliothek berühmte Manuskripten und Inkunabeln aufweist. Dahin geht es nächstes Jahr zum Weltbuchtag, aber nun muss das Bier geehrt werden, es gibt Leffe blond und Franziskaner naturtrüb und für Dina London Pride.

Cheers

Prost

The Fab Four of Cley
🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

.

© text and illustrations, Hanne Siebers & Klausbernd Vollmar, Cley next the Sea 2023

100 thoughts

  1. Ah, in all these years (11) I have lived in Norfolk, I have yet to visit Felbrigg. It is only 24 miles from Beetley, but because dogs are not allowed, we have gone elsewhere with Ollie. When we no longer have a dog I will go there, as long as I am still fit enough to enjoy the trip.
    Love from Beetley, Pete and Ollie. X

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good morning, dear Pete
      Felbrigg is worth visiting. It’s not only the library it’s the outside too. For us the walled garden is a highlight as well and the walks on the estate.
      We hope you are well. Love from the sea
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful to see this very old book collection, Fab Four, I enjoyed it so much. Terrific to see Felbrigg Hall, too. I really liked the closeup of the book titles and interesting to see the vellum protecting these gems.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Jet,
      this vellum protection is something new. Volunteers saw it in other National Trust libraries and brought it to Felbrigg. We have never seen it in libraries before.
      All the best and thanks for commenting
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. How wonderful, I hope old Will Windham is having a lovely time drifting around his library, maybe keeping the books dusted as he swooshes by.
    And I think beer (wine and coffee as well) are great companions for a good book, Hemingway thought Paris was a moveable feast and so are books. And if you don’t have a coaster or beer mat handy, the dime novels and forgettable spy thrillers we pick up when we’re stranded in airports, make a great substitute, we don’t absorb much knowledge from them but at least they’re absorbent. Cheers to the Fab Four, always a pleasure to see one of your posts, RPT.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Robert,
      indeed, we use cheap pocket book editions as beer mats as well. And since we organise book sales for our community we notice that quite a lot of the donated books have these round marks from glasses or cups. Especially red wine, tea and coffee leave their mark.
      We are sure that Good Old Windham is enjoying drifting around as a library ghost. To live on in your library is his paradise.
      Thanks and wishing you all the best
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Fab Four of Cley,
    Well, as you know, That is a place I would now love to visit. You and love to collect and read our books and I can get lost and spend days in a book store or library.
    AND, I was very pleased to hear you honoring Beer Day!!
    Take care my friends,
    GP

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear GP
      we think books and beer go well together not only by starting with a B.
      It’s interesting that nobody we met knew how these books are ordered. Our dear Master is always interested in the system of organising book collections. In Felbrigg as well as in Blickling we could find the system.
      We like the leather bindings of all this books.
      Thanks and cheers
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Like

    • Hey Jude,
      this walled garden is the best kept and most beautiful walled garden of all English houses we know. When we go to Felbrigg we always visit this walled garden, actually more often than the library.
      Keep well
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for a wonderful post and introduction to William Windham III. His love of books continues to inspire anyone who visits Felbrigg. I visited the National Trust website for Felbrigg and discovered that the photo was credited to Hanne! How absolutely wonderful. Her photography brought out the beauty of this grand home.

    https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/norfolk/felbrigg-hall-gardens-and-estate

    Sending much love and many hugs to our dear friends, The Fab Four of Cley!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Good morning, dear Rebecca,
      and there is a photo of the postcard of Felbrigg by Hanne-Dina as well. That’s the official Fedlbrigg postcard. Hanne-Dina is the official property photographer of the National Trust.
      We always pass by Felbrigg when we go shopping in our next bigger town.
      With lots of hugs and love ❤
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s great how the National Trust protects the libraries in these country houses.
      Recently they had a big problem with rain water finding its way into this library. But they could save all the books and now the library is dry again.
      Thanks and cheers
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Like

    • Dear Babsje
      Jorge Luis Borghes saw the library as the paradise. He should know because besides being an author he was director of the national library of Buenos Aires.
      Thanks for your kind words
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Klausbernd – you’re welcome and thank you for telling me about Jorge Luis Borghes’ notion of paradise. I worked in various libraries from age 8 through 25. At University, a former student bequeathed his collection of every issue of Playboy magazine ever published, and the college needed a woman to do the cataloguing, rather than a male student for reasons. That was my strangest library assignment! I dearly love books – their heft in my hand, the scent of the paper, the embossed bindings, the feel of the pages under my fingertips – everything… Although these days I can only read on my Kindle PaperWhite because of my poor eyesight. The Kindle allows font size adjustments in a way physical books cannot. But sometimes even now I buy two copies of beloved books – one physical and one digital. Wonderful post. My thanks to all the Fab Four of Cley for this one.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes, I can imagine that. My worst was in a very professional email to an important work client, my usual sign-off phrase at work “Best regards” was autocorrected to say “Breast regards.” Mortifying.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Cindy
      how do you protect your old books?
      We have old books only in facsimile editions. The oldest book in our library is from the 16th c., we unfortunately don’t have incunabels or illuminated manuscripts.
      Thanks and cheers
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Like

    • Hallo, liebe Birgit,
      so genießen wir fröhlich unser Shakesbier.
      Die Bibliothek entspricht genau unseren Vorstellungen einer ‘gothic library’. Wir lieben sie.
      Vielen Dank, alles Gute
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Wir geben dir Recht, lieber Gerhard,
      zumindest uns interessieren die meisten dieser Bücher vom Inhalt überhaupt nicht. Dazu kommen noch Werke in einem Latein, das weit über unsere Kenntnisse hinausreicht (obwohl Masterchen mit Mühe und Not neun Jahre Lateinunterricht hinter sich brachte). Außerdem gibt der Bücherwurm den Büchern etwas Individuelles. Wir haben eine zweibändige Nansen Erstausgabe, deren Titelseiten an den Rändern einem Spitzendeckchen gleichen. Das ist doch etwas Besonderes.
      Viele Bücher in solchen Bibliotheken umfassen Werke zur Geschichte, auch zur Naturgeschichte.
      In solche Landhausbibliotheken findet man selten illuminierte Manuskripte oder Inkunabeln. Die meiste Literatur stammt aus dem 17. und 18. Jh. in diesen Bibliotheken, teilweise in sehr anmutigen Bindungen.
      Hab’s fein
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Man kann recherchieren, wie viele etwa von einem Titel verkauft wurden und wie hoch die Auflage war. Allerdings welche Gruppe bestimmte Titel las, ist unseres Erachtens schwer recherchierbar. Wir kennen jedoch die Gruppen, die Bücher kauften und lasen.
      Klausbernd 🙂

      Like

  6. Diese Felbrigg Hall scheint mir ja wirklich etwas ganz Ausserordentliches zu sein und Bücher waren dem Gründer, William Windham, lebenswichtig sonst hätte er sein Leben wohl nicht auf’s Spiel gesetzt . Danke euch Vieren für die tole Vorstellung dieses Ortes.:) Cari saluti Martina

    Liked by 2 people

    • Vielen Dank, liebe Martina
      ja, der W.W. war schon ein großer Büchernarr. Und nun hat er den besten Jenseitsplatz als Bibliotheksgeist.
      Mit lieben Grüßen vom kleinen Dorf in der Nähe von Felbrigg
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Roberta,
      not far from each other, you have two important libraries here in North Norfolk. There is Felbrigg and Blickling. It’s ideal for library tourism (we very much like it) to come here.
      Thanks and keep well
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Like

  7. I do not drink beer – I do not have the taste for it – EXCEPT when I am in Germany in summer, and then I very much enjoy weiss (wheat?) beer. Go figure. Oh, and I don’t mind a book or two either, whether covered in vellum or not.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Gwendoline,
      you prefer the same beers as our Master. He is very happy that you can get a decent wheat beer (Weißbier) in most of the supermarkets. But you are right, unfortunately, it has the tendency to show.
      To cover your books with vellum is quite eccentric but it seem to work again the book bugs.
      Thanks and sheers
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I would have loved that trip with you. Shelves and shelves of books–it’s as though they call out to me–shout even. I got my library card for the US Library of Congress and then immersed myself in the tomes. What a great day.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Dear Jacqui
      it’s a pity, I have never been to the US Library of Congress. That would be a visit I would love to do with you as my guide (like Beatrice 😉 ).
      The best place for old and beautiful libraries is Dublin. We have never seen so many impressive libraries near to each other like there.
      Thanks for your comment. Keep well and take care
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

    • Dear Jo
      our Master loves his books in an logical order that he can easily find books he is looking for. But the system we use now is about ten years old. We have to change it a little bit quite often. The problem is that a lot of the books fit in more than one category. We use a library programme for our private library but that has the same problem as we can only give a book one keyword.
      Anyway, the order of books is a never ending problem.
      Thanks and cheers ❤
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Like

  9. Herrlich, diese alten “Schinken” in der altehrwürdigen Bibliothek.
    Fast meine ich, etwas vom jahrhundertealten Staub, Geruch und Geist dieser Bücherschätze in der Nase kitzeln zu spüren. :–)
    Danke für die Texte und Bilder zum Welttag des Buches und darüber hinaus sowie lieben Gruss,
    Brigitte

    Liked by 2 people

    • Guten Morgen, liebe Brigitte,
      habe herzlichen Dank für deinen Kommentar.
      Wir lieben diesen Geist der Bücherschätze und die Atmosphäre solcher Bibliotheken. Wenn wir verreisen, schauen wir stets, ob es besondere Bibliotheken zu besuchen gibt.
      Wir wünschen dir einen erfreulichen Tag, liebe Grüße vom sonnigen Meer
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Interesting history of Felbrigg, but shouldn’t it all be. History, that is, interesting, unless someone makes a rule of it, that it MUST be interesting. BOOKS, it’s what’s for dinner, for hungry minds to devour. I visited an interesting library in New York City last summer: https://fairplay740.wordpress.com/2022/10/08/lens-artists-challenge-220-one-subject-three-ways-pt-3/ . Although one person noted, they are heavily under lock and key and likely little or easily read, but we must protect our books.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good morning, dear John,
      thank you very much for your comment.
      Such libraries like Felbrigg protect books that otherwise would be lost. On the other hand most of these books we wouldn’t be interested to read but they are a document of the way of thinking in the 17th c.
      Thanks for the link. If we remember it correctly, this library is mentioned in Christopher de Hamels “The Manuscripts Club”, an interesting book about early rare books.
      All the best to you
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Ja, das gibt´s, Bücher fallen manchmal aus Regalen, Prösterchen!
    Jetzt weiß ich endlich, was das geheime BundB wirklich bedeutet.
    Ich trinke manchmal alkoholfreies Bier und fühle mich dann trotzdem bedödelt, praktisch ist das mit so einer blühenden Phantasie!
    Ich proBiere es demnächst auch mal mit Wasser, was ich gedanklich in Bier umwandele…

    Habe es eilig und Tschüß!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Liebes Pialein,
      habe herzlichen Dank für deinen lustigen Kommentar. Dina trinkt oft alkoholfreies Bier und, wir müssen sie mal fragen, vielleicht beherrscht sie auch den Zauber alkoholfreies Bier in Alkohol zu verwandeln.
      Mit lieben Grüßen vom sonnigen Meer
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Like

  12. Wir haben hier keine berühmten Bibliotheken und traurigerweise liest kaum jemand hier. Aber wir haben Tuborg und Guinness und Budweiser und sogar Beck’s 🙂 Ah und Efes ist gar net so übel. In Bristol sagten wir immer “What about a Worthington?” oder “Let’s have a pint of Smithwicks!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wir haben hier in England kein Problem mit deutschem Bier. Unser Masterchen liebt Weizenbier und selbst Franziskaner gibt es im Supermarkt wie auch Leffe blond und dark z.B. von Belgien. Von den englischen Bieren schmeckt uns London Pride und Doombar am besten.
      In England wird relativ viel gelesen. In jedem Haus, das wir besuchen, gibt es Bücher und in fast allen Dörfern im Umkreis gibt es Lesegruppen. Überall gibt es auch offene Bookshelves, wo man Bücher hinbringt und Bücher mitnehmen kann ohne Kosten.
      Warum bist du denn in Türkei gezogen? Wolltest du zurück in deine Heimat?
      Wir sind noch nie in der Türkei gewesen. Wir sind Freunde des Nordens. In Europa zieht es uns immer nach Skandinavien.
      Alles Gute und vielen Dank
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Like

    • Ich kenne den Norden von Früher auch ganz gut. Türkei – warum….naja, die Liebe 🙂 England ist ne Wolke! (kennt ihr “Warlights” von Ondatje oder “Die Ringe des Saturn” von Sebald? I love England too – in Bristol they always thought I’m Scottish :-).
      Muss ma googeln, wo Cley ist…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ja, wir kennen “warlights” und kannten Sebald persönlich. Er wohnte nicht so weit entfernt, von wo wir in Norfolk wohnen. Er lehrte in Norwich, unserer nächsten Großstadt. Siehe auch

      W.G. Sebald


      ‘Ringe des Saturn’ ist eine Wanderung auf dem Coast Path, an dem wir wohnen.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ach ja, ich vergaß es. Cley next the Sea liegt in East Anglia an der Küste von Nord Norfolk und, wie geschrieben, die größte Stadt hier in der Nähe ist Norwich.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Beer Day and World Book Day, how did I not know about that?!? 🙂 In Czechia, it seems every day is beer day here… The haunted 17th-century English Hall of Felbrigg looks brilliant and perfect for human-style bookworms, even if the books may not make for the best reading – just viewing them from the photos gives a sense of awe at history… and the love for books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Randall
      It’s a great Combination beer and books, funny. The library in Felbrigg Hall is one of places big and small bookworms feel immediately at home.
      Thanks and cheers
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Like

  14. You’re lucky to have places like this within reach – what a treasure! I’ve never seen the vellum treatment. It’s nice that an appropriate solution was found that allows the books to remain on the shelves. That sky is amazing – I don’t think the building could look better, bravo! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Lynn,
      we just came back from a perfect holiday in Yorkshire.
      We found this vellum-solution clever as well. But we are afraid that so much vellum will be quite expensive.
      Oh dear, we brought a lot of books home, like always. Now we are getting severe problems with space.
      Thanks and cheers
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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