Global warming in bugging Blickling

A mixture of warm weather, heavy rains and high humidity has seen a dramatic rise in the number of brown moths, deathwatch beetle larvae and moulds ravaging Blickling Hall.

You could spend all day going from room to room at Blickling Hall and never realise the continual battle that is being fought behind the scenes of the Jacobean home to save a slice of history.

For the hall's collection of antique furniture, towering tapestries and ancient books has a seemingly endless army of hungry creepy crawlies to fight off - thanks to the effects of global warming.

A mixture of warm weather, heavy rains and high humidity has seen a dramatic rise in the number of brown moths, deathwatch beetle larvae and moulds ravaging the north Norfolk building.

And if the paper and cloth munching insects and insidious mould were not bad enough, the National Trust, owner of the hall, has had to contend with three flash floods this year, which swamped the 17th century hall's basements and threatened to reach some unique exhibits.

Yesterday, Margaret Hodge, government minister for culture, creative industries and tourism, saw at first hand how the charity trust was battling to preserve the site from the devastating effects of climate change, which has impacted on most historical buildings in East Anglia, including Walpole, Oxburgh and Long Melford Halls.

During her tour the minister was shocked to discover deathwatch beetle larvae relentlessly gnawing their way through a 16th century tome in the Long Gallery library.

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Insect numbers in the hall have quadrupled in the last year as the creatures' breeding cycle increases as warmer weather patterns continue to change.

Mrs Hodge was then horrified to see how the ceiling of the unusually decorated Chinese bedroom had been damaged and stained by torrential rain in June.

Sarah Norcross-Robinson, National Trust conservator for Blickling Hall, said: "People do moan about the fact they cannot see any evidence of climate change - but we have to deal with its effects everyday.

"It is heartbreaking to see some of the irreparable damage caused by heavy rains, insects and mould. It does feel like we are continually fighting a battle against them."

The National Trust has implemented several temporary measures to prevent more flood damage, including flood boards, pumps and removing roof moss from drainpipes. Trust bosses also have potential plans to create a new flood meadow on the estate to divert future torrents of water.

The trust, which is beginning to find it difficult to claim insurance for the flood damage, is hoping Mrs Hodge will lobby fellow ministers to fund more climate change research and help draw up a national heritage protection programme.

Mrs Hodge said: "It is a tragedy to see the damage that is being caused to the hall and its wonderful collection. It is fascinating to see at firsthand how the National Trust has to cope with the effects of global warming."

For information on visiting Blickling Hall ring 01263 738030 or visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk

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