Friday, 3 June 2016


A recent visit to my son and daughter in law in Manchester included a first trip to the John Rylands Library.

For those who don't already know it's one of the most spectacular libraries in the world. It was founded by Mrs Enriqueta Rylands as a memorial to her husband and gifted to the people of Manchester.

The Splendid Gothic building houses rare books, prints and manuscripts.

Our visit coincided with an exhibition: "Magic, Witches and Devils in the Early Modern World". An interesting look at how witchcraft and ghostly apparitions inspired fear and fascination between the 15th and 18th centuries. Kings, Queens, clergy and common folk all thrilled to the seduction of the supernatural.

John Rylands is certainly visually impressive. The buttresses and arches give a cathedral look and the ornamental fan-vaulting above the main staircase has birds, dragons, bats and monkeys carved into the stonework. Statues, stained glass windows and glass cases crammed with beautiful antique volumes complete the picture and create an aura of reverence. Most people talked in hushed tones.

But, John Rylands does have a whimsical side. Oddities like this are scattered throughout the interior.


And, thanks to the friendly staff I discovered the fun fact that the toilet cubicles were designed to be extra large so that the Victorian ladies had room for their bustles.

For more information click here: JOHN RYLANDS LIBRARY


Sue Purkiss said...

Never heard of it before - sounds like a really interesting place!

Sharon Tregenza said...

It is, Sue. Beautiful place.

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

No, neither have I heard of it. Its one for the THINGS TO DO LIST. Looks fascinating! Thanks for this.

Penny Dolan said...

Does look very interesting! Must add this Library to a Manchester itinerary for a future trip across.

Sharon Tregenza said...

Dianne and Penny. It's well worth a visit. It has a grand, hallowed ambience, but with touches of whimsy. :)