Chetham’s Library has been in continuous use as a free public library for over 350 years. It is housed in a beautiful sandstone building dating from 1421 which was built to accommodate the priests of Manchester’s Collegiate Church.

The entire collection at Chetham’s Library has been designated as one of national and international importance, an accolade of which we are extremely proud.

The Library began acquiring books in August 1655, and has been adding to its collections ever since. As well as a fine collection of early printed books, the collections include a wealth of ephemera, manuscript diaries, letters and deeds, prints, paintings and glass lantern slides.

Visiting the library

Timed admissions for visitors

  • Mon-Fri
  • 10:00
  • 11:00
  • 12:00
  • 13:30
  • 14:30
  • 15:30

The Library is open for self-guided visits at the times above. Entrance is free but we ask for a suggested minimum donation of £3. Please gather at the Long Millgate entrance.

For a closer look at the building and further insight into its history, we offer guided tours through our partner Jonathan Schofield which can be booked through his website.

Book a Library Tour

If you wish to consult the collection, Chetham’s Library is open to readers Monday to Friday 9.00am-12.30 and 1.30-4.30pm by prior appointment. Please email us or call 0161 834 7961.


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Humphrey Chetham (1580–1653), the most successful gentleman merchant of seventeenth-century Lancashire, was born in Crumpsall, near Manchester. His fortune was made in the cloth trade, mainly in buying and...

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