John Rylands Library team digitise "intriguing" 17th century diary inside Tatton Hall Library

By Richard Moss | 26 October 2010
a photo of an ornate library interior of a stately home with books, globe, tables, desks, portraits, fireplace etc
The Library at Tatton Hall where Nehemiah Wallington's diaries reside
Nehemiah Wallington was an ordinary working man who lived in extraordinary times. By the time he died in 1658 at the age of 60, he had seen plague, fire, religious oppression, revolution and a civil war culminating in the execution of the King of England, Charles I.

Luckily for us, Wallington was also an eloquent and well-read writer who filled 50 notebooks documenting his own philosophies on life during these turbulent times.

Now one of the intriguing diaries, which resides in the collection of the Library at Tatton Hall in Cheshire, is about to be shared with a wider audience thanks to the John Rylands' Centre for Heritage Imaging and Collection Care.

Using cutting edge camera technology, the team from the famous Manchester library are photographing Wallington's manuscript, which includes passages containing his attitudes to life, religion, the civil war and the witchcraft trials of the period.

a photo of stately home with a classical portico frontage and formal garden
Tatton Hall
"Nehemiah Wallington was an intelligent working man who achieved much in the face of such difficulty and exhaustion in daily life," says Caroline Schofield, the Mansions and Collections Manager at Tatton Park.

"He doubted his salvation to the degree that he suffered a mental breakdown and tried to take his own life. He began to keep his diaries in an effort to record his own sins and God's mercies."

Penned at a time of great upheaval in society, when the social order was changing and ideas about man's relationship with God were shifting radically, the Wallington manuscripts are of huge importance to scholars of the period. It is also hoped that the digitised images will be used in a new interpretive public exhibition in the mansion's library.

The team from John Rylands are also capturing four volumes of Tatton manuscripts containing the music of Henry Purcell, which curators will use to help carry out an ongoing research project at Tatton Library and to inform a new display in the Music Room.

The public can see the photographers, who are funded by digital technology group JISC, until October 29, working from a room at the historic mansion owned by the National Trust and financed and administered by Cheshire East Council.

Find out more about the work of JISC and the digital work of the John Rylands Library.
More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
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