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Welcome to the fourth instalment of our eight hidden gems in and around Manchester.

These are places which might not initially crop up on your itinerary when planning a trip to the city, as you might never heard of them, but you definitely don’t want to miss out on seeing them.

So far, we’ve visited Museum Of Transport, Manchester Jewish Museum and Elizabeth Gaskell’s House. Today, we’re heading to the oldest public library in the English-speaking world, Chetham’s Library – and it’s located right here in Manchester.

What is it?

Chetham’s Library was founded in 1653 under the will of prosperous Manchester textile merchant, banker and landowner Humphrey Chetham. The actual building itself dates back to 1421, when its purpose was to accommodate a college of priests. It’s a remarkable building featuring the most beautiful details, and still stands as one of the most complete medieval complexes to survive in the North West.

With the lack of locations available for independent study in the area, at the time of the libraries founding Humphrey Chetham enlisted the help of 24 governors to build the most vast collection of reading materials which would rival the likes of Oxford and Cambridge. The collection of books and manuscripts acquired covered a huge range of different subject matter, and has continued to expand throughout the years – now specialising in the history and topography of Greater Manchester and Lancashire.

“Humphrey Chetham’s will of 1651 stipulated that the Library should be ‘for the use of schollars and others well affected’, and instructed the librarian ‘to require nothing of any man that cometh into the library’. “

To this day, Chetham’s is still open to the public as a free library, and has been for over 350 years. While its wealth of resources still brings in a mass of readers on a daily basis, its incredible history and stunning architecture has helped to transform it into one of the most popular tourist destinations in Manchester.

Free Virtual Tour of Chetham’s Library

Unable to visit Chetham’s Library yourself? Our very own taxi driver and tour guide John Consterdine took a trip down there and chatted with one of the librarians, Fergus, to find out a little more about the library and take a look at its stunning architecture. Check out the video below…

Where is it?

Chetham’s Library is located in Manchester City Centre, opposite the National Football Museum.

Check out the map below:

Entrance to the library is free of charge, and there is no membership required. However, readers and researchers are required to make an appointment prior to visiting. Find out more about visiting Chetham’s Library here.

Book a tour of Manchester

Want to see Chetham’s Library and other hidden gems in Manchester with your own eyes? Book one of our highly rated custom built Manchester Taxi Tours to see what the city has to offer, and visit the places that you want to see with the city’s only Green Badge taxi driver & tour guide John Consterdine.

Get in touch with us now to find out more.

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