Three Centuries of the Written Word
- Tells the story of Britain’s oldest surviving public library
- Fully and wonderfully illustrated
Chetham’s Library was founded in 1653 by Humphrey Chetham, a wealthy Manchester merchant. It is the oldest surviving public library in the country, indeed anywhere in the English-speaking world, and has a history of continuous use for over 350 years, remaining open to readers and visitors free of charge. Its magnificent 17th-century interior is housed in one of the finest medieval structures to survive in the north west of England, built in the early 15th century to house a college of priests, and retaining many of its original architectural features. The Library holds more than 100,000 volumes of printed books, many of which are still shelved on the beautiful gated oak presses. These include particularly rich collections of printed works from the 16th and 17th centuries, periodicals and journals, local history sources, broadsides and ephemera. The manuscript holdings include over 40 medieval manuscripts as well as a rich and varied collection of local and national significance.