Treasures from the Holkham Library

Delve into the library at Holkham with our special month by month display of books and manuscripts that are rarely seen by the public.


Gould’s Birds of Europe and the designs of Edward Lear
As part of the Historic Houses Association Literary Trail, we are celebrating the life of the famous nonsense poet Edward Lear and the designs he undertook for John Gould’s Birds of Europe before he became famous.


Food and drink - Practical Household Matters
This display will feature volumes from the Holkham library on cookery as well as books on viticulture, bee-keeping, cider-making and brewing.


An 18th Century Lady seen through her Library
Margaret Coke, the wife of Thomas Coke, the 1st Earl of Leicester of the 1st Creation, did not have many books in her own name. Significantly, she commissioned the Holkham Chapel Bible and The Book of Common Prayer on the completion of the hall and chapel. Also on display will be her commonplace books, a hall inventory from the early 1770s which is in her hand and is the key source for how the hall was arranged. These documents were used by the 7th Earl of Leicester as part of his project to reverse the more unsympathetic changes to the hall by his ancestors.


The Cosmographia - An ‘Enlightenment’ World View
We shall examine what is a ‘Cosmographia’, how did Holkham’s volumes come about and what do they contain?


Horace Walpole - 300th Anniversary of his birth
Social commentator, poet, neighbour to Holkham and Gothic novel writer. A 2nd edition of his famous Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto, a Gothic story written in 1765, was purchased by the 7th Earl in 2000 and will be on display.


The Reformation illustrated from the Holkham Library
2017 is the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther posting his 95 theses on the door of the castle chapel in the German town of Wittenberg, the starting point of the Reformation. Topics covered will include Sir Edward Coke prosecuting Jesuits and Tyndale’s New Testament along with other religious books from the library, including an example of one of Cary Coke’s religious books. We will discuss the Coke family as Whigs and supporters of the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the Protestant settlement.

The display is available to view during normal hall opening times and is included in standard admission. Click here for more information.

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