A shared passion for books and reading has always been one of the things that has always drawn Clare and I together since the week we met at school, aged sixteen. Fast forward far too many years, and we find ourselves at Wormsley for the Maserati 100 Year celebrations, when small groups of guests were allowed into the famous Library, home to one of the finest private literary collections in the country, during the day.
Imagine us slowly walking around the Library, mouths hanging slack, prodding each other occasionally and muttering a few words from time to time, which went something like this…Shakespeare First Folio….oh god, Caxton’s 1st edition The Canterbury Tales….LOOK it’s Anne Boleyn’s Psalter…
When he renovated his beautiful Berkshire estate, Wormsley, Getty built this magnificent library to house his collection of rare manuscripts and bindings, along with a private cricket ground, the first country-house cricket pitch to be built since the Second World War.
The theme of the library is the Art of the Book, as expressed through printing, illustration, illumination, calligraphy and, in particular, bookbinding, and the works on display date from a 7th Century fragment, which lays claim to be the earliest English manuscript through to flamboyant and elegant 20th Century bindings.
The most extraordinary thing is that the manuscripts and books lie open on the tables and the shelves, allowing the observer to get up close and personal, to really see, where glass might more usually obscure.
Gutenberg’s Biblia Latina, c. 1455 (just casually sitting there, open to all.)
The Hours of Adrien Gouffier, Paris 1503-1510.
Book of Hours (The Madresfield Hours), York circa 1320-1330.
Anne Boleyn’s Psalter, Le Livre Des Psaulmes De David. Manuscript. Paris or Rouen, 1529 – 32.
New Testament, London 1626.
The Holy Bible, London, John Field 1653.
Thomas (Dylan), Under Milk Wood. Begun in Froxfield, Hampshire 1961, and completed in Gaithersburg, Maryland 1978
The Breviary of Bernard of Hainaut, ca. 1470.
Bestiary, c. 1375
Pistol Book, inserted in Book of Hours printed at Soleure in Switzerland in 1627.
Ptolemaeus (c.) Cosmographia, 1482
Being given access to the Library this summer will rank as one of my best experiences of the year, if not the decade.
Wormsley is a private estate, and the library is not open to the public, but visits can be built into corporate or charity days held at the Wormsley Cricket Ground by special arrangement with the family. For all enquiries specifically related to the Wormsley library, please contact email@example.com
Many thanks to HR Owen and Maserati for arranging access to the Library as part of the Maserati 100 Year celebrations this summer.