Was this really a Women’s Library?
History of the Room
Judging from the dates of the works represented by the book spines, together with the architectural style of the bookcases, the room was refurbished in around 1860. The bookshelves themselves were possibly designed either by architect John Gibson (1814-92) – a leading High Victorian architect who specialised in the neoclassical style and who is now best known for his work for the National Provincial Bank (most notably his fine banking hall of 1865, ‘Gibson Hall’, in London’s Bishopsgate) – or by local architect William Lait (d.1889), who worked elsewhere on the Compton Verney estate in the 1860s and was subsequently appointed County Surveyor in 1871.
The painted panels in the bookcases, with their elaborate cartouches and views, appear to be the sort of high-quality amateur work which could have been executed by the then-Lady Willoughby de Broke and her friends.
When the house was restored in the mid-1990s, this room was not given a purpose and was accordingly closed to the public. Since 2009 it has housed a few paintings from our collection, including, from 2017, four portraits by Michael Dahl of the Verney family of the late-seventeenth and early-eighteenth centuries that originally hung in the house.