Volunteers bring library back to life at 18th-century stately home near Whitchurch

The owning family of an 18th-century stately home near Whitchurch has been toasting the skills and dedication of a group of volunteers who have brought their library back up to the highest standards.

Philip Godsal with some of the volunteers from the Arts Society Tarporley
Philip Godsal with some of the volunteers from the Arts Society Tarporley

Volunteers from the Arts Society Tarporley have painstaking cleaned the books in the library at Iscoyd Park, which has been the home of the Godsal family since 1843.

The library holds some 1,500 books, some of them more than 250 years old, and the conservation project was to be a two-part process, first the cleaning which has now been completed followed by repairs to some of the volumes.

Gilliain Edwards, from Arts Society Tarporley, said: “We decided to take on the project because Philip Godsal and his family open their house to the public – we couldn’t otherwise have agreed to it.

“There have been varying numbers of volunteers – usually about eight of us – spending three hours at Iscoyd Park every fortnight.

“We have been extremely lucky to have Lynette Banks, a consultant, to be able to tutor us in how to clean the books properly.

“We started the cleaning operation in April last year but to be honest the library was in pretty good condition, especially considering the books were last cleaned in 1963.

“They are really super books – I could spend hours browsing the library!”

Philip Godsal – whose son Phil and daughter-in-law Susie now live in the house with their young family – liaised with the volunteers over the project.

“I know I speak for Phil and Susie when I say how grateful we are to all the volunteers for the exceptional job they have done cleaning the books,” said Mr Godsal.

“The level of expertise which Lynette Banks was able to pass on to the team was obviously invaluable, and in due course she will hopefully teach a small group from the group how to repair the books.

“Above all we appreciate the hard work, care and dedication every one of the volunteers has shown.”

Iscoyd Park is now run by the Godsals as an award-winning wedding and private hire venue, as well as a much-loved family home.