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Chetham’s in the naughty nineties

The 1890s, that is – the original and best naughty nineties, as our governing body the Library Committee insists. Many of them remember the period well and are still hoping for the Gibson Girl look to come back. We’re grateful to Mrs Hazel Frances for coming all the way to the library to make us a gift of a splendid set of late Victorian postcard views of the dear Alma Mater, intended for the halfpenny post for postcards introduced not long before. Not a great deal has changed about the bones of the building and its main furnishings, but the detail has changed a little and they are full of atmosphere.
The tympanum in the Library’s Reading Room, with Chetham’s coat of arms. Many of the institution’s portraits in oils used to hang here.

 

The stairs here now lead up to the flat of the Head of Chetham’s School

 

The cloisters have changed barely at all

 

The desk in the Reading Room famous for the visits of Marx and Engels in 1845.We still have the pyramidal top, but it’s not usually in use.

 

The Reading Room again, the central table pictured here without its large false top.The fireplace seems to have had some rather nice tiles, and again more art on the walls.

 

The Baronial Hall when it was still the refectory for the boys of Chetham’s Hospital. 
The oak benches are now in the school library, but not much has changed.

 

The ‘river steps’ – already by the date of this picture the River Irk wasculverted away under Victoria Station and its associate access roads.

 

The ‘Tudor Buffet’ sounds rather as if you’re going to a dodgy Christmas party, and we now believe this unusual item to be made up from an important late-medieval bed.

 

‘The wickets’ – reference to a wicket gate? 

 

The view towards the Audit Room, very little changed today,though our Chinese bell was not in its current position yet.

 

And finally the ‘Secret Chamber’, which we have long regarded as being called ‘the Scriptorium’ by the Victorians. It is neither secret nor a scriptorium.
Why not come down and see the place as it now is? Here are the details for visitors.