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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
  • 14:00
  • 15:00

For the remainder of August, we are operating a timed entry system for visitors. Times are listed above. Please gather at the Long Millgate entrance, and a guide will bring you over to the Library.

From Monday 2 September, we will be inviting visitors to book a tour in advance. Tours will take place every weekday at 11.30am, 2.30pm and 3.30pm, with numbers limited to protect these delicate ancient buildings. Please click the ‘Book a Library Tour‘ link below to reserve your place – bookings must be made in advance.

For a closer look at the Library, including access to the wider medieval building, we offer guided tours through our partner Jonathan Schofield which can be booked through this website.

For more information please see our visiting page.

Book a Library Tour

If you wish to consult the collection, Chetham’s Library is open to readers Monday to Friday 9am-12.30pm and 1.30-4.30pm by prior appointment. Please email us or call 0161 834 7961.

What's On

  1. 02 Sep
  2. 16 Sep


  1. Flights of Fancy

    One of the most notable features of the Reading Room at Chetham’s Library is a...

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  2. Pamphlet wars: Roger L’Estrange and printed polemic in Restoration England

    We’re delighted to welcome to the blog Verônica Calsoni Lima, PhD student (University of Sao...

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  3. “The disturbed state of these towns”: relief for special constables after Peterloo

    Chetham’s Library holds a great deal of material relating to Peterloo and the divisive politics...

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Humphrey Chetham (1580–1653), the most successful gentleman merchant of seventeenth-century Lancashire, was born in Crumpsall Hall, near Manchester, and later lived at Clayton Hall near Droylsden. His fortune was...

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