• John Rylands
  • Mrs Enriqueta Augustina Rylands statue
  • Vaulted ceiling
  • Stained glass that fronts on to Deansgate
  • A reader

365-334 John Rylands Library Historic Reading Room, Manchester UK

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This is an image taken in the first floor historic reading room of the Manchester University John Rylands library. This serves as the special Collections section of the John Rylands University Library (JRUL). It is a remarkable victorian gothic building right in the heart of the city's shopping district Deansgate.

The library, which opened to the public in 1900, was founded by Mrs Enriqueta Augustina Rylands in memory of her late husband, John Rylands. The collections include medieval illuminated manuscripts, examples of the earliest forms of European printing, including the Gutenberg Bible, and the personal papers of notable local figures such as Elizabeth Gaskell and chemist John Dalton.

Enriqueta Rylands purchased a site on Deansgate, at the heart of Manchester city centre, in 1889 for her planned memorial library and commissioned a design from architect Basil Champneys. Mrs Rylands had originally intended the library as a principally theological collection and the building, which is a very fine example of Victorian Gothic, has much of the appearance of a church, although the actual concept was of an Oxford college library on a larger scale.

The core of the library was formed around the collection of 40,000 books including many rarities assembled by George John Spencer, which Mrs Rylands purchased in 1892. The library was finally opened to readers on 1 January 1900. It was illuminated internally by electricity (rather than gas which was more common at the time). The use of electricity was still in its early stages, the supply had to be generated on-site. This took some years to achieve due to the inexperience of local contractors, but the library became one of the first public buildings in Manchester to be lit by electricity and continued to generate its own supply until 1950.

Basil Champneys was given the rare honour of speaking about the building at a general meeting of the Royal Institute of British Architects and was awarded the Royal Gold Medal in 1912. The library was granted listed building status on 25 January 1952, which was upgraded to Grade I on 6 June 1994.

In the Rylands Gallery on the lower floor, you can see some of the most important items from the Library's collections including magnificent medieval manuscripts and examples of the earliest books ever printed. The gallery is organized around seven themes. Faiths, History of the Bible, Beautiful Books, Science, World Literatures, Everyday Life and Manchester.

It is one of Manchester's building gems and inside more resembles a cathedral than a library. Marble statues of Enriqueta and John Rylands watch over the readers from either end of the room. If you are in the city, make an excuse to spend some time to drink in the history.

NB: Like all the images on this stream, full size prints up to 30x20inches are available, Check my profile for how to contact me.

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(c) Hotpix / HotpixUK Tony Smith - Hotpix.freeserve.co.uk WDCC

Dircinha -, Eddy Blokhuis , and 47 other people added this photo to their favorites.

View 20 more comments

  1. Ambernectar 13 47 months ago | reply

    you should do a view going the other way from Mrs Rylands statue too ;o)

    Havent read through the other comments if someone has already mentiioned this!

  2. @HotpixUK -Add Me On Ipernity 500px 47 months ago | reply

    Yep, she was the real architect here!

  3. CameliaTWU 47 months ago | reply

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Best Images Ever (ADMIN Invite Only | Award At Least 2), and we'd love to have this added to the group!

    Excellent shot

  4. xlmendibaso 47 months ago | reply

    This is one of the best images ever!
    You deserve an award from...

    Best Images Ever

  5. 1Jimbo1 47 months ago | reply

    Absolutely Fantastic!

    This is one of the best images ever!
    You deserve an award from...

    Best Images Ever

  6. marinela 2008 47 months ago | reply

    This is one of the best images ever!
    You deserve an award from...

    Best Images Ever

  7. ninjagrover 47 months ago | reply

    Hey, It's a cool building hey. Excellent photo. I've got some more of the library somewhere. I'll have to upload them someday :)

  8. @HotpixUK -Add Me On Ipernity 500px 47 months ago | reply

    Put them on that would be good !

  9. Jordi Camardons Caralt 46 months ago | reply

    !!!! Great capture,wonderful!!!! Thanks,greetings

  10. narcojloleptic_designs 46 months ago | reply

    Please consider adding this photo to Essence of Hogwarts. Thank you!

  11. Margot Wolfs 46 months ago | reply

    This is one of the best images ever!
    You deserve an award from...

    Best Images Ever

  12. Johnny Cooman 46 months ago | reply

    Beautiful! This is a great photo, sublime light and great composition! Thanks for your comments.

    Your photo screams Photographer !!!
    Thank you for sharing with us


  13. Tony Carlos Br 45 months ago | reply

    Oi! Sou administrador de um grupo chamado Flickr Hive Mind, e nós adoraríamos ter a sua foto adicionada ao grupo.
    explore your tag in fiveprime org
    be among the top 50, add here
    his tag was found among the
    50 most important

  14. jr55 (John Richardson) 39 months ago | reply

    I use a 10-24 mm myself, thank goodnesss for Ps/ transform.

  15. Brianna S. 34 months ago | reply

    What a beautiful library! I see what you mean about it resembling a cathedral; I was thinking that before I read your description.

  16. @HotpixUK -Add Me On Ipernity 500px 34 months ago | reply

    Like a Victorian cathedral of Knowledge!


  17. frankartculinary 31 months ago | reply

    …my Respect,
    …a great perspective Shot***

  18. pickade [deleted] 28 months ago | reply

    Aufgenommen in die Gruppe
    Low Angle Shots

  19. Night-Sky 15 months ago | reply

    It might have taken me nearly 3 years to spot your comment (and this image) on my John Ryland's library shot Tony, but I finally have! This is a great shot!
    Tom (Night Sky)

    Here's another JR Library pic of mine

    John Rylands' Library, Manchester, UK

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