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6NADFAS REVIEWSUPPLEMENT/ SUMMER VOLUNTEERSNADFASARTS EDUCATION AND HERITAGECONSERVATIONAblustery November morning, andoutside Lambeth Palace'sLollards'Gate the trees bend wildly.But in a cluttered room, tucked away inthe library that is part of the Archbishopof Canterbury's London residence, thescene is one of calm. Seated around atable strewn with books, sponges,Vaseline, ribbons and cleaning fluids aresix Heritage Volunteers from Dulwich,Westminster, Wimbledon and PutneyDFASs. Wearing aprons and protectivegloves, the women gently rub at leathercovers, ortie ribbons around bookswhose pages have ripped from theirbindings. A quiet camaraderie pervades.For the past 10 years the group (albeitwith a few changes of members alongthe way) has spent every other Tuesdayat Lambeth Palace Library caring forsome of its most important collections; a further Heritage Volunteer team offersits services every other Thursday.highlights will be an astonishing collectionof historic Bibles from the Sion Collection.The Sion Collection was transferred toLambeth Palace Library in 1996 followingthe closure of Sion College. Sion College,founded in 1630, is a body of centralLondon priests that promotes learningand fellowship among the capital's clergy.On closure of its library, its historicallyimportant collections were split betweenLambeth Palace, King's College and theGuildhall libraries, with Lambethreceiving all materials pre-dating 1850.It is these books that the NADFASHeritage Volunteers have tended tomost recently. "This is an incredibly richcollection," explains Lambeth's DeputyLibrarian, Gabriel Sewell. "Itcomplements the Lambeth collectionswith a key focus on the Church, but arich diversity of other subject material,notably history and literature." TheNADFAS team's efforts are invaluable inEvery other Tuesday, for over a decade, a team of Greater London Area Heritage Volunteers has reported forduty at Lambeth Palace Library. Their task: to help preservehistorically priceless books for generations to come.Danielle Greenhears their storyLadies ofthe PalaceFounded in 1610 by ArchbishopRichard Bancroft, Lambeth Palace Libraryis the historic library and record office ofthe Archbishops of Canterbury, and theprincipal repository of the documentaryhistory of the Church of England. Recordsheld here date from the ninth century tothe present day, and while much of thecollection relates to ecclesiastical history,there is also material on a myriad oftopics including social, political,architectural and economic history.Situated in the oldest remaining part ofthe palace (1440) is the Great Hall.Ransacked by Cromwellian troops duringthe English Civil War, it wasrebuilt afterthe Restoration with a stunning lateGothic hammer beam roof. Today, theGreat Hall, once the library readingroom, is used for exhibitions. Next yearthe library will stage an exhibition here tomark the 400th anniversary of the firstAuthorized Version Bible. Among the REVIEW SUPPLEMENT/ SUMMER 20107Above: Teamspirit -theGreater LondonHeritageVolunteersapproach theirtask withcommitment andcamaraderie laying the groundwork for the restorersand binders, she says.So, what are the challenges involvedin working on these volumes? "Old age!"quips Mary Welch, the NADFAS team'smost senior member and one of threeinvolved from the start. But the books'advanced years is half the story. Thebombing of the Sion Library during theBlitz took an inevitable toll. "Many booksare either fire damaged from the bombor water damaged from the hoses,"says volunteer Brenda Spear.Sometimes the volunteers realise theyare handling a volume whose content,despite the book's age, has never beenseen by human eyes. "It's sad when youfind a book that is 200 years old whosepages have never been touched," saysHazel Green, who joined the group eightyears ago. "They are either in pristinecondition or have not actually been cut."Each volunteer has her favourite book."The library isn't all about theology,"continues Hazel. "There's a lovely theatresection, for example. It's tempting to walkoff with books sometimes!" "It can beexciting too," adds Brenda. "We haveseen volumes annotated by Elizabeth I." Not everything the women encounter isso fascinating. Referring to the cheappaperbacks vicars in Victorian Englandwere required to publish, Stella Benwell,another volunteer involved from the start,describes "miserable books made ofcardboard and full of ancient sermons."All declare the work to be enormouslysatisfying, though. Mary Hoseason,involved for the past year, says: "Somebooks are in such a state that they takea lot of work. But with care andattention they clean up very nicely. It'swonderful to see the transformation."So, how many books can a team ofenthusiastic NADFAS Heritage Volunteersget through in ten years? I am told therunning total to September 2008 was10,000, which works out as almost 43books per session. "Sometimes we arequite voracious and have to tell thelibrarians we need more work!" saysSarah Buckingham who describesherself as the team's "new girl".One of the group I do not get to meetis Eileen Waterman, who passed awayearlier in 2009. Eileen had worked onthe books from the start. When she diedher family donated a substantial sum ofmoney to the library in recognition of herpassion for the project. The funds will beused to conserve some of the historicBibles in the Sion Collection that will beexhibited in 2011. Each will contain aspecial bookplate in her memory. Amore fitting tribute is hard to imagine. Treasures of Lambeth PalaceLibrary: 400th Anniversary (1610-2010)runs until 23 July 2010.www.lambethpalacelibrary.orgPhotography: Richard Proctor; Art Direction: Georgina Rhodes