Beyond the door, Chetham’s Library

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Chetham's Library stickerWell, it all started when I visited Manchester Cathedral. On one of the announcements, I read that the choir was taught at Chetham Music School, situated in an old building practically across the street.
A couple of days later, I passed by that building and there was a sign that said Chetham’s Library. So I asked the porter if Chetham’s Library could be visited, and he said indeed it could and gave me a sticker to put on my t’shirt. He gave me directions, saying that I should cross the parking lot and go beyond a gate and there I would find a door, and should ring the bell and someone would open the door for me.

Chetham's Library gate

The gate

I felt a bit like Alice in Wonderland but I did put the sticker on my t’shirt, headed for the other side of the parking lot, did pass a gate and rang the bell.

I waited for a couple of minutes and the door opened. I climbed a flight of stairs behind the man who had opened the door. He gave me a leaflet, and kindly said that I could look around, take photos and there I was, in the middle of that stunning library, surrounded by all those ancient books.

Chetham's Library

A long corridor with books on either side

Chetham's Library

Waiting for repairs, perhaps

Chetham's Library

Who might have climbed on that stool to reach for a book?

Chetham's Library

In this alcove, Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx often sat to read and study

Chetham's Library

I would so have loved to pull out one of the books and browse. But it just isn’t done 😉

Still I feel it was a privilege to visit this wonderful place, which dates back to 1653 and is the oldest public library in the English-speaking world (Wikipedia).

  1. You can see more of the photos I took here.
  2. Or as a slideshow here
  3. Read about Chetham’s Library history here

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15 thoughts on “Beyond the door, Chetham’s Library

  1. 1653 – now that’s pretty old! At first I thought that it would be a good place to have Sherlock Holmes solve a crime that took place at the library but he wasn’t even born yet. I checked with google and Holmes wasn’t around until the 1800’s.

    I wonder what they were writing about at the time. Maybe books about religion?

  2. What a special photo visit to share with the book lovers so many of us are. Thank you! Like you, I find thinking about others from generations before standing where I might be standing in historical places; wondering about them, etc.

  3. Your photos are so realistic and beautiful.

    Millie mentioned the library looking like a murder mystery might have taken place there. I just finished reading “The Collectors” by David Baldacci. A murder does take place in the Rare Books Room of the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.

    “the Director of the Library of Congress’s rare books room. The recently departed is found in a safe vault where he should have been protected. Cause of death? His heart just stopped.?????

    Interesting reading.

  4. Speaking of collections of books, I just love to go into old used book stores.
    I can remember turning such an adventure into an almost all day event when I would suddenly come upon such a bookstore. I could just lose track of time browsing the books, reading bits from one or another. We don’t seem to have as many used book stores as I remember from years ago. Wonder if you have them in Paris, London, etc.?

  5. How lucky you were to have “discovered” this treasure (and how lucky we are you shared it)! Your pictures take me there — I can smell the old wood, the musty pages. I can hear voices echoing softly throught its history.

  6. Ooooh, I’m in awe of this place! TALK about stepping back in time and surrounded by BOOKS….pure heaven for me!
    Gorgeous photos, Claude. Thanks so much for sharing them with us. What a magnificient place this is. A real treasure. But I’m also wondering what ALL those books were!

  7. Looking at all your beautiful photos with mon ami de coeur, while sipping wine, we have arrived at the Chetham’s Library. We are speechless. It’s so incredibly moving. We feel that we are walking with you, step by step, and that those precious books are alive and talking to us. Merci for the wonderful hours!

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