Monday, 6 August 2012

We heart Manchester :-)

On Wednesday 25th July the Library enjoyed a day out in Manchester where we visited two iconic libraries: John Rylands and Chetham's. We toured the amazing cathedral like John Rylands Library first; one of the world’s finest collections of rare books and manuscripts. Established in 1889 by the textile entrepreneur John Rylands, it did not open to public readers until 1900 as the building was 10 years in construction [designed by the architect, Basil Champneys].  It became part of the University of Manchester in 1972 and therefore has a busy and vibrant atmosphere which creates a fascinating juxtaposition with the striking gothic architecture.

After partaking of a most enjoyable lunch [at The People's History Museum] we then went on to Chetham’s. Founded in 1653, it is the oldest surviving public library in Britain and the building is older still, built in 1421 to accommodate a college of priests it remains one of the most complete medieval complexes to survive in the north west of England. We had the foresight to book a tour, and amongst the historical facts there was also a little magical fiction [?] in the tale of a burn mark on a table reputed to be the cloven-hoof print of the devil conjured up by John Dee during his Wardenship of the College in 1595.

Links were forged and a great day was had by all despite a freezing cold train on the way there and a boiling hot one on the way back!

John Rylands photographs first:

One of the finest examples of neo-gothic architecture in Europe

Reading space

Statue of John Rylands - founder of library and Manchester's first multi-millionaire

Window detail

Where old meets new: the red brick of the original building coming through in to the new wing

Main view of library showing temporary exhibition cases

...and now Chetham's

Our group [on the right] trouping in next to water sculpture

Medieval staircase and leaded window

Show and tell with Librarian Michael Powell
A "chained" library comissioned by Humphrey Chetham [1580-1653] - five of these were produced and placed in local churches 

Now called the Audit Room but originally this would have been allocated as the Warden's Room

Table [in the Audit Room] with mysterious burn mark...
 Cloven hoof print? You make your minds up :-)

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