A pictorial visit to Chetham's Library

At the end of last year, I paid a flying visit to Manchester, to see my dear friend. Sue of 'Mouse Notebook'. Apart from catching up with news, I was also treated to a grand tour of her 'workplace' - the magnificent Chetham's Library

Shall we?

I admit, that at the top of the stairs, when this Paradise of books opened up before me, I stood still and had a little weep. Only a true bibliophile will understand why. 

Visiting is free, but donations are always very welcome (indeed, needed). Visiting times and details can be found here.

And as the lucky guest of a Chetham's librarian, I was treated to a quick tour behind the scenes - what we might call 'the staff room'. I will let the books speak for themselves, they will do it more eloquently than I.

Another insight into the life behind the shelves - inside the inner sanctum of the office, where a colleague was examining a beautiful antique book of real (and very much imaginary) marine life. I think the publication date was the 1500's, I was too lost in the engravings to pay much attention.

My friend's colleague, who had been browsing the book on our arrival, tried to find a particularly spectacular creature he had spotted earlier. Sadly, like so many mythological beasts, it remained elusive, despite much searching.

On the way out, still breathless from the presence of soaring shelves of antique books, I spotted this -  as my long time friends and readers will know,  anything letter press catches my attention.

Here are small enclosed areas, rather like individual shrines to the blessed book.

There was a distinctly cathedral-like atmosphere throughout - a hushed reverence and the way the fragile winter light filtered through the windows.

Partially drunk on the rapture of books, I emerged into bright winter sunshine and braved the Christmas crowds and the train journey home. 


tut-tut said...

Wow; thanks for posting and the link.

Sue said...

Lovely darling 😊 The first link doesn't work btw. X

Lin said...


Frances said...

What a magical place! Gretel, I think that I would also have had a little weep at the top of the stairs.


Acornmoon said...

How lovely, I can understand your "moment". If you ever visit Manchester again there is another lovely old library filled with printing presses, called The John Rylands. You would no doubt have another moment. Happy New Year to you too. x

Jess said...

What a fantastic place and the illustrated marine book looks amazing!
Jess x

Jackie said...

Don't you just wonder how Sue remains calm in the presence of so much wonder?

Caroline B said...

What an incredible place - I didn't know that libraries like that existed. You'd have had to throw me out, so much to see!

Katharine A said...

Looks an amzing place. Thanks for the tour. I love it when you go to new places, not knowing quite what to expect and they're as lovely as that.

Soozcat said...

Oh my.


Oh my.

Yes, I have to agree with Frances. What else is there to do in the presence of this kind of rare treasure trove but to have a bit of a cry in appreciation? Thank you so much for taking us there in spirit if not in person!

BumbleVee said...

Wow. Thanks for the great tour Gretel...... a place that is truly deserving of the term 'awesome'.

Vintage Jane said...

Wow, what an amazing place to work. I can fully understand why you would feel emotional. M x

frayed at the edge said...

What a wonderful place!
I have been having a problem leaving comments on some blogs recently, including yours, but have now found a way round the problem, so I just want to catch up on your previous posts and say how delighted I am that you have found happiness with Joe
Anne xx

rossichka said...

I've been following Chetham's Library blog, but your post is different, a special one, sharing a story from "inside"! Thank you, Gretel! It must have been very exciting to meet Sue, besides at her work place! Maybe one day I could go there, too?
Best wishes from me in a misty, but "home-sweet-home" afternoon!:)

Caz.P. said...

Awesome , in the true sense of the word.