SECRETS of the ‘Victorian internet’ are set to be unlocked when visitors step into the literary past of a Northwich stately home.

The historic library at Arley Hall and Gardens, which houses 5,000 books, offers a glimpse of Victorian life where books and encyclopaedia, not the internet, were the only point of reference.

Some of Arley’s books are more than 250 years old and include 30 different bibles, as well as tomes about botany, gardens, local history, architecture, travel and classics.

Ian Gault, hall guide at Arley for the last seven years, said he thought the hall’s library was a ‘Victorian internet’.

“The hall is full of such wonderful historic treasures but the library is especially fascinating to me,” he said.

“It is a record of this family’s life and interests but it also holds so much local history and important books and novels covering 200 years of literature.”

Volunteers at the estate, owned by Lord and Lady Ashbrook, have cleaned the entire collection of books - a task which has taken three years to complete.

Simon Wilson, hall manager, said: “The library is a part of the hall that visitors are always keen to see and find out more about.

“The team at Arley have a very important job in preserving the hall and its many artefacts for the future and we couldn’t do this without the wonderful volunteers who give up their time to be a part of that.

“Through the dedication of these specially trained volunteers these books will be around for many more decades for visitors to enjoy.”

>The library can be viewed every Tuesday and Sunday, from noon until 5pm.

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