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Illuminating the wonders of the library

Thanks to the support of our generous donors, we raised £10,500 to replace the halogen lighting in Bishop Porteus’ library with new LED lighting!

Fulham Palace now costs over £5,000 to run each day, and we are always looking for ways to make the Palace more sustainable. LED lighting is not only energy efficient but also low-maintenance and long-lasting, meaning we can reduce our energy costs and minimise our environmental impact while preserving the historic character of the library and collection.

Over the next few months, we will be installing the lightning, as well as cleaning and condition-checking the images held within the library.

We are looking forward to the changes this will bring to the space. Improving the lighting in the room will significantly strengthen our position in terms of negotiating with lenders, and we can look at hosting new temporary exhibitions in the space to further our understanding of the collection.

Thanks again to the support from our generous donors, our historic library will be preserved for generations to come!

History

The library at Fulham Palace is named after Bishop Beilby Porteus (1731 -1809), who left a plan, his own books, and a sum of money to build a new library. The Porteus library is particularly important as it is one of only two rooms (the chapel being the other) that contain significant fixtures and fittings dating to the period of their construction. The library was converted from the former chapel in the 1820s, using Porteus’s bequest. We have been working to sensitively bring the library back to life by presenting it as it appeared in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The collection

Eleven of the paintings on display are portraits of former Bishops of London, including one of Bishop Porteus. There is also a painting of the Tudor courtyard and a local scene of the bishop’s walk in Bishop’s Park. Some of the paintings are of better artistic merit than others, but all are important to interpreting the Palace as the historic home of the Bishop of London from 704 to 1973. Porteus’ original book collection is now housed at Senate House Library (University of London), covering topics from the French Revolution to the transatlantic slave trade. The book collection now on display includes old volumes, some of which date to the 17th century, some from loans belonging to the families of previous Bishops of London. The books on religion and Church of England history that we hold are important in their own right.

Why now?

There are several dangers and disadvantages associated with the current halogen lights. The covers of the lights are prone to break and shatter, which can cause damage to the collection and bookshelves. Halogen lights are also a known fire risk, which poses a great concern to a historic building with large amounts of wood and plaster. The UV radiation and lux levels emitted by the current lights are above the recommended limits. They are causing visible damage to the paintings on display. The lights are inflexible and cannot be directed away from the paintings, so we have been self-limiting the amount of time we put the lights on, which impacts the visitor experience, library opening hours and collection care activities.

LED lighting will sustainably accentuate features that are lost within the dark space, such as the intricate dome architecture of the ceiling and gothic windows.