Why This Room is Special

The Women's Library at Compton Verney

When Compton Verney was rescued by the Peter Moores Foundation in 1993, the house was in a very poor state of repair. Almost all of the ceilings had collapsed, and very few of the original fittings survived. However, the last room of the south wing’s ground floor retains its original furniture, in the form of a large chimney surround, three corner bookcases with painted parchment panels, and a doorcase into which has been set panels of faux or ‘dummy’ book spines. The dummy spines are a fascinating historical feature – and they are also remarkably unusual. These rare spines are making a bold statement – for all the authors cited in the book spine panels are female. Two out of the original eight book-spine panels have been lost, but the rest remained in good condition. In 2017 the two missing panels were re-created by an expert bookbinder in collaboration with academics at the University of Oxford.

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