To steal a phrase from my university days I am going to put forward a little recommended reading list of some fabulous National Trust books, but beware, they will make you want to travel the length and breadth of the country until you have visited every property and seen every item featured!
I final graduate from my undergraduate degree at the beginning of the month and as a graduation gift my mum bought me some Trust books to peruse. It made me realize I seem to be building up quite a collection of heritage type books, with a particular focus on the National Trust.
The first book I’m going to recommend is what we nicknamed ‘The Archaeologist’s Bible’ at uni; Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice. By Renfrew and Bahn. We were told to read it in our fist year so I went online and bought one and still refer to it today. This book helped me write so many essays over my three years at uni and is a really good starting point for someone, like me, who has no real knowledge of archaeology beyond Time Team. This books covers every topic you could need to know in an easy to understand and interesting way.
Another book that helped me, especially in my first year at uni was Kevin Green’s Archaeology; an Introduction.
A book I have spent a lot of time studying and a brilliant tool published by the National Trust is their Manual of Housekeeping. This incredibly comprehensive manual is regularly updated and ensures that every Trust property has the same information to refer to. It covers every question you could have with regards to housekeeping, conservation, winter cleans, moving, storing and caring for objects ect. I used it a lot when I was working at Greyfriars as there were no other conservation Assistants for me to ask, and it helped me understand a lot of the reasons for doing thing the way the trust does them. I also used the manual in my dissertation, and would recommendatory purchasing it if you want to go into conservation.
When I wrote my dissertation, discussing the delicate balance between conservation and access in heritage properties, I used the National Trust as one of my case studies. This was because of the time I had spent at Greyfriars giving me an insight into the way the Trust did things. A book I used quite a lot in my literature review was Merlin Waterson’s The National Trust. The First Hundred Years. It is a really interesting book that I originally borrowed from the uni library but ended up buying myself a copy and one for my mother for last Christmas. It gives a good overview of how the charity came to be and showed me just how much things have evolved, but how the main principles and beliefs are still firmly at the core of what the Trust do today. It is a really good book for anyone interested in the National Trust.
These books really helped me through my university career and I still read and refer to them today, a great set of books to give anyone a good solid understanding of Archaeology or Conservation in the Heritage Industry.
The next few books are more recreational reading. I mentioned in my Erddig post that I visited their second hand book shop and bought a few more books from their gift shop also. I have begun collecting guide books from different National Trust properties, new guide books and old ones that often turn up in Trust properties’ second hand book shops. These are great souvenirs with fantastic pictures in them. I also use them to jog my memory of all the different properties I have visited!
On my visit to Erddig’s book shop I bought a lovely book called And so to Bed by Margaret Willes. I bought this book as it appeals to my love of textiles, it has images of all my favourite beds from the properties I have been visiting; the State bed at Erddig, and our State bed here at Powis, as well as the gorgeous brass bed at Penrhynn. Another wonderful souvenir of one of my favourite aspects visiting Trust properties.
In the Erddig gift shop I treated myself to a book called Great Houses of the National Trust by Lydia Greeves. Again this book allows me to look at the fab properties in the Trust’s care, and add more to my list of places I would love to visit/work! There are more stunning photographs and a good overview about each property and why it qualifies as a ‘great’ house. I was very pleased to see Powis Castle was in there too! I would recommend this book as an overview of the amazing properties the Trust cares for.
Then as a graduation gift from my mother she bought me two new books on Trust properties and their contents. Big hefty books full of gorgeous pictures!
The first book is called Houses of the National Trust also by Lydia Greeves. Similar to the above book it is full of beautiful pictures of stunning properties, and makes me realised how lucky we are as a Nation that the Trust protects these places, but also makes me realise how lucky I am personally to be able to work for the Trust, get VIP access to these stunning properties, and help protect them for others to enjoy! I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in historic properties, but it is a bit pricier than Great Houses, but has more content.
The final book I’m going to recommend is Treasure from The National Trust. This book is amazing! So beautiful and makes me so pleased to work for the organisation that cares for all these stunning objects! It was really interesting to look at the objects features that are in our collection. There are several featured from Powis (yes, I’m rather smug about that fact) but the most interesting thing is that they are not necessarily the most valuable (in financial terms), nor the most rare or unusual, and the selection in the book is probably not what the house team would have picked. However some of the items in the book are some of the items I included in my list of favourite objects so obviously I have great taste!
And to finish this post here are a couple of books next on my shopping list!
The Art of Dress by Jane Ashelford, to feed my love of textiles!
Life Below Stairs by Sian Evans, recommended to me many times, and anyone who like me love Downton Abbey!
To the Manor House Reborn. I have wanted to read this book after watching the first episode of the series, it seems like such an interesting and challenging projects undertaken by the Trust and I would love to visit the property as well!
If you are looking for some interesting and educational reads or just Christmas shopping in general let me point you to the National Trust gift shop on line, I have done most of my present shopping in our gift shop so hopefully you will be abel to find something there, or just something to treat yourself!