House Blog | Restoration: The Brudenell Tresham Library
Having a keen interest in History of Art and Historical Houses, although not a pre-requisite to becoming the Lady of the House, is certainly advantageous to the upkeep of Deene Park. Charlotte Brudenell read History and History of Art as an Undergraduate and completed her Masters Degree in Country House Studies conducting research on her then Father-in-Law’s family home: Deene Park. She is a passionate curator of the collections at Deene Park ensuring restoration is conducted wherever necessary, that records are kept and that the art and artifacts in Deene are displayed in a pre-eminent way.
Recent restoration projects have included a deep clean of the historically important Brudenell Tresham Library, housed at Deene Park and has lead us to sharing the history and historical relevance of the extensive library.
The history of the library begins with a prominent recusant Catholic landowner in Elizabethan Northamptonshire, Sir Thomas Tresham who died two years after the accession of James VI and I. Inheriting large estates at the age of 15 from his grandfather and namesake and having been brought up in the Throckmorton household, Tresham was established as a member of the Catholic elite. He was widely regarded as a well-educated man and intelligent man, dedicating much of his life to collecting books, as well as reading them.
Thomas Tresham had eleven children with Merial Throckmorton, including Francis, Mary, Elizabeth and Frances. The eldest, Francis, was a member of the group of English provincial Catholics who planned the famed but failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605.
Second-born, Mary, married Thomas Brudenell, 1st Earl of Cardigan (circa 1583- 1663). Thomas Brudenell known as Sir Thomas Brudenell, between 1611 and 1628 and as The Lord Brudenell between 1628 and 1661, was an English peer and Royalist soldier.
It is believed that the portion of the Tresham Library now residing at Deene Park may well have been a dowry from the Tresham family for the hand of their daughter, Mary. Thus the Brudenell Tresham Library was created.
Thomas Brudenell was the son of Robert Brudenell by Catherine Taylarde, daughter of Sir Geoffrey Taylarde. He was the grandson of Sir Thomas Brudenell, High Sherriff of Rutland and the great-grandson of Sir Robert Brudenell, Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas. He succeeded to the Deene estates in 1606 on the death of his paternal uncle. In 1611 he was created a Baronet, and in 1628 elevated to the peerage as Baron Brudenell.
The library now contains in the region of 2,000 books. After the creation of the library at the marriage of Thomas and Mary, In 1643 the Roundheads arrived at Deene and removed the pictures, furniture and all of the books during battles forged within the theatre of the English Civil War as the Parliamentarian strong hold through Central England enlarged.
The warring factions were known colloquially as the Roundheads and the Cavaliers. Supporting the King stood The Cavaliers, including Catholics, most of the Nobles and Gentry, about half of all the Members of Parliament as well as the poorer areas of the North and West. Named Cavaliers because many of them fought on horseback, the term comes from the French ‘chevalier’ meaning ‘horse’. Cavaliers were easily recognizable by their long hair and elaborate dress. Their opponents the Puritans were made up of the more militant Members of Parliament, merchants, and the richer areas of the South and East. The Parliamentarians were nicknamed ’roundheads’ in response to the hairstyles they wore with hair cut above the ear.
During the atrocities, Thomas Brudenell fled to Wales before being imprisoned in the Tower of London. During the years of his imprisonment, he created a detailed inventory of his books and continued to read avidly. His wife, Mary, was left at Deene during these years, forced to live on only one fifth of the income of the Estate in near destitute solitude, because of the Brudenell Royalist sympathies and Roman Catholicism.
Following the conclusion of the English Civil War in 1651, and his subsequent release from The Tower, Thomas Brudenell was created Earl of Cardigan in 1661 in return for a large donation to Charles 1’s fighting fund during the Civil War. He was forced to buy back most of the library to his fury, returning his books to their rightful home at Deene Park. Still to this day, books from the original Brudenell Tresham Library very occasionally appear. When they do, Mr. and Mrs. Brudenell buy these books and continue to re-instate the library.
As a result of a careful examination of both the portion of the library which has been preserved at Deene Park in Northamptonshire and of the manuscript inventory created by Thomas Brudenell of the original library, the catalogue of nearly 2,000 works shows that Tresham owned the latest works on architecture, mathematics, astronomy and science, Catholic theology and devotion, with a wide range of works on history and literature.
In the deep clean this winter, every one of the original-copy books have been removed from their shelves, carefully cleaned and restored by specialists. Now replaced, the books stand as a living memory to the generations passed under the watchful eye of the current Mrs. Brudenell.