Here's a wonderful, and very kind, update from our fantastic volunteer Sheila (who cleaned all the books in the library last year, along with Jill Standing). A huge thank you to them both for their invaluable help. We hope you enjoy this informative read:
Being a volunteer is always good for you. There are opportunities to meet new people, and a chance to feel good about helping out. Reasons enough you might think to volunteer as a Friend of Kemnay House, especially when the owners Alex and Nick are so kind and welcoming. But as a bibliophile, to be able to help in the library of this lovely house was an opportunity not to be missed.
Kemnay House library has a wonderful collection of antiquarian books which reflect the knowledge and interests of the previous generations. Music and theology feature, but also so many other volumes of varied topics. My friend Jill Standing and I were there ostensibly to inspect, clean, and protect the books, but what joy to be able to dip into and read some of these volumes.
In a large old house with a library such as this, it was inevitable that we meet some problems, and we did. Some books had to be bound with cotton tape to keep the end boards in place, others needed careful cleaning of some mould. Special conservation care materials had to be used as we dealt with the books. There was some evidence of past woodworm on some shelves which was cleaned away.
The library has some extraordinary pieces in its collection, such as a beautiful atlas which is open to view. Books are meant to be read, and the library has some fascinating books full of interesting information. Who would have thought the King of France had had such plans for Mary Queen of Scots? In a book published in 1614 it is clear he still influenced her life even after the early death of his son the Dauphin, to whom she was married. The political intrigues of those years were in many ways no different from today. A book published in 1663 is a well recognised treatise on arthritis. Another from 1567 detailed the medicinal uses of plants. I wonder how many important facts from the past observations of these men and women are being rediscovered today?
Jill and I were sad to have completed what we could do in this library. It was a privilege to be allowed to touch and read these ancient, and not so ancient volumes. Thank you, Alex!
By Sheila Simpson