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Epic library restoration completed at Blenheim Palace ahead of World Book Day

Geraldine Gardner

Geraldine Gardner

geraldine.gardner@newburynews.co.uk

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Epic library restoration completed at Blenheim Palace ahead of World Book Day

Julian Newman cleaning one of more than 10,000 books in Blenheim Palace's Long Library Photo: Richard Cave

A 16-YEAR restoration of thousands of rare volumes has been completed at Blenheim Palace ahead of World Book Day on March 5.

The Long Library, which is home to more than 10,000 books, and is reputed to be the second longest room in any house in England, has been undergoing a comprehensive conservation programme which began in 2004.

To date more 2,000 individual volumes have been cleaned and conserved by a team of trained staff at the Oxfordshire UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As part of the programme, books have had to be re-bound, re-sewn and re-lettered. New leather bindings have been made and various volumes have had to have their covers re-dyed due to light damage.

Special storage boxes have also been made to house various magazines, guidebooks, leaflets, and prints related to Churchill and Blenheim. These will store them safely and dust-free and allow easy access for research and information. UV film has also been installed on all the library’s windows to reduce light damage.

The Long Library was Winston Churchill’s favourite room in the Palace and is now home to dozens of his books, including signed first editions of his biography of the 1st Duke.

It has also been used as a hospital ward for recuperating soldiers during the First World War, a dormitory for Malvern College boys in the Second World War and as temporary headquarters for MI5.

First celebrated in 1995, World Book Day is a charity event held annually on the first Thursday in March. On World Book Day, every child in full-time education in the UK is given a voucher to be spent on books. The event is based on the original, global World Book Day organised by UNESCO to promote reading, publishing, and copyright.

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