In late August 1939, the majority of the National Gallery's paintings were taken by train and van to Bangor, Aberystwyth and Penrhyn Castle. Others were stored in Caernarvon Castle, Plas-y-Bryn, at Bontnewydd, and Crosswood, near Aberystwyth. Some remained at Avening, in Gloucestershire, at the home of Lord Lee of Fareham, a gallery trustee. The many scattered locations and their vagaries were a considerable headache for Davies, who oversaw the whole operation. At Crosswood, where 70 paintings were stored, the hot-water pipes of the antiquated heating system ran under the floor of the library, where the pictures were kept, seriously lowering the relative humidity, with potentially disastrous consequences for paintings on panel and canvas. As the heating could not be turned off without affecting the rest of the house, blankets and felt had to be soaked in a nearby stream and hung in the library until the humidity reached acceptable levels. At Penrhyn, the paintings were housed all over the castle and the owner was a hazard in himself. In a letter to the keeper, William Gibson, Davies confided: 'For your most secret ear, one of our troubles at Penrhyn Castle is that the owner is celebrating the war by being fairly constantly drunk. He stumbled with a dog into the dining-room a few days ago; this will not happen again. Yesterday, he smashed up his car, and, I believe, himself a little - so perhaps the problem has solved itself for the moment.'
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