... with more books on it than I can possibly read in the time allotted, but I couldn't resist this new, pretty one, esp. when it opened randomly to this page:
Some garden buildings were built primarily to house books. Sometimes libraries and studies were combined with other uses, including dining and places to keep animals or birds. Owners were not always concerned about the danger of their books getting damp, which might be expected in buildings that must have been unheated for long periods. ...Would you have been able to resist? Anyway, happy December! I hope your book pile is as perilous and your reading is as promising! :)
One garden building for books was not what it seemed. The aptly named Bono Retiro at Hardwick (County Durham) was constructed in the 1750s for John Burdon, whose money had come from coal mines in the north-east. There was an element of the upstart about him and it has been suggested that he created an elegant landscape to demonstrate his taste and gentility, though in this he was far from unique. At Hardwick there was an eclectic collection of buildings strung along a set circuit and the Bono Retiro was particularly intriguing especially as not all visitors were allowed in. It was innocuously described in 1803: 'Near the side of the canal is a building called the Library.' Here, despite the moist atmosphere from the canal there was no fear of the books mouldering as they were, in fact, fake. Another author who was clearly better informed wrote: 'Between the windows there were book-cases, containing to appearance many elegant books, the works of our most esteemed authors, being a deception of the nicest kind, as they are only of painted wood, but so exquisitely finished, as scarcely to be distinguished from real ones ...' What this author did not mention however, was that the stained glass windows had a rather risque element to them. They were said to display 'The likeness of things so foul to behold/That what they are is not fit to be told,' and no visitor seems to have reported the exact nature.' So it appears the whole building was a giant joke, perhaps as the expense of those serious, scholarly buildings elsewhere.