Heritage Volunteers



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 Heritage Volunteers




                             Hugh Fitzwilliams,
Committee Representative for Heritage Volunteers
                          Tel: 07776 160 812

                             Campion Hall

               Oxford Union Library


Stonor Park

        The Library at Stonor Park

                      Judy Deppe


HEDFAS Heritage Volunteers have a long and proud record of book conservation.  They are a small group who give their time freely to clean, repair and restore books of all ages, shape, type and size at whichever library they can find work.  Some HEDFAS Heritage Volunteers have been doing this work for twenty years or more.  In the 1990's they worked at  Worcester College, Oxford, then Campion Hall, The Oxford Union Library and Christ Church College. Thereafter they returned for a second time to Stonor Park, and now in 2014 they are settled in for at least the next two years at Lincoln College Library, Oxford.

Hugh Fitzwilliams, the Committee Representative now in charge of Heritage Volunteers, started in 2000 at The Oxford Union which, unlike the other libraries, is an active ‘lending library’ as well as a holding library of both old and rare books and pamphlets. In those far off days Margaret Baily was in charge and kept her team up to the mark in following the strict routines and procedures required in cleaning and repairing books that are fragile and sometimes extremely valuable.  Many are written in Greek, Latin or Hebrew and any Volunteer with the skill to decipher even the title page was a most welcome addition to the team.

The Heritage Volunteers moved on to Christ Church in May 2004. Christ Church library is a magnificent 1770’s building complete with contemporary library furniture and holds 40,000 books. It is vast and cavernous and before its renovation in 2009 was the coldest work place this side of the South Pole! The HEDFAS Heritage Volunteers started as the junior partners with Abingdon & Witney and Cotswold DFAS groups, but very early on Henley took the lead under the unifying leadership of Judy Deppe. The team were there for four years and in that time they gained considerable experience from the diversity of the books requiring attention.  Not only were they cleaning and recording, but their repair work ranged from the routine tears and splits in the ageing leather boards to intricate page tears and the making of boxes and book shoes. Their stay was drawn to a close when the major refurbishment started.

In 2010 the Heritage Volunteers returned to the warm, sunny work room of Stonor Park at the invitation of Lord & Lady Camoys.  Here the private family library gave a fascinating window into the threats and challenges facing one of the principal Roman Catholic families of England from the height of their persecution through to modern times. Some of the books and pamphlets have no named author or printer for the simple reason that to lay claim to such material meant a heavy fine, imprisonment or even death. Family prayer books and devotional works, alongside 19th century plays and entertainments written by the family for performances with other local families, gave an endearing almost ‘Jane Austen’ glimpse into the life of that time.

Judy Deppe retired in April 2011.  She had fulfilled her post with enthusiasm, vision and expertise and was an inspirational leader to all those working with her. Under her leadership the group had gone from strength to strength. Ann Lincoln, a member of HEDFAS for several years and a most capable, active member of the Heritage Volunteers, stepped into her shoes. With great skill and ingenuity and in the face of strong opposition, she won the opportunity to work at Lincoln College in 2013. Founded in 1427, the library has always been significant and is now housed in the converted All Saints Church in Turl Street. Ann Lincoln stepped down in the summer of 2013 and Hugh Fitzwilliams took on the leadership role. The team has now spent a year in the Senior Library focused on cleaning the valuable collection of books left to the College by different generations of Fellows and supporters since its foundation.  In October 2014 they had another of their periodic retraining sessions with Caroline Bendix, perhaps the leading UK book conservationist, as well as senior advisor to the National Trust and many of the country’s major libraries. Reinvigorated with new talent, they are now back to the complex and satisfying work of conservation repairs.

Three new recruits are required. Good eyesight, a steady hand, a cheery nature, a willingness to work in a disciplined way and commitment to attend one Monday in three is all that is required.

Telephone Hugh Fitzwilliams on 07776 160 812 if you are interested.                        

Christ Church College

Lincoln College

All Saints Church,
Turl Street, Oxford

Lincoln College Library
in All Saints Church

Ann Lincoln