Visiting the library

We’re so pleased you’re planning to visit us.
Please note that we are on the same site as Chetham’s School of Music, and therefore all visitor access is via the pre-booked tours and events. Due to the age and layout of the Library, we can only have a limited number of people in the building at any one time.  Library Tours can be booked online, or by telephone.  Children under 10 years of age and accompanied by an adult visit free of charge. We are open weekdays only, with the occasional weekend tour (please see our tour booking page for dates).

What can I expect to see?
Chetham’s has been in continuous use as a 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. Join our expert volunteers on a tour packed with historical fact and fascinating stories: amongst the highlights are the gated book presses with thousands of books dating from as early as the 16th century, the historic furniture and paintings, a remarkable chained library, the desk where Marx and Engels studied, and medieval cat flaps!

Getting here
Located in the heart of Manchester’s Medieval Quarter, Chetham’s Library is easily accessible by road, tram, train and foot. This map of the city centre shows our location, just opposite the National Football Museum. Entry to the Library is through the main gate on Long Millgate, M3 1SB, just off Cathedral Gardens.  You can also find the entrance with What Three Words.

Ticket bookers can receive an offer for discounted parking with APCOA Printworks car parking when booking in advance via their website, which provides 30% off parking for any length of stay on the day of your visit. You will receive a discount code via our pre-event email. This car park has accessible spaces, and there are lifts in the bus station entrance to the car park, and at the Shudehill entrance and these entry/exit points do not involve steps. Should anyone require help/assistance at the car park, the site is staffed 24/7 and staff can be summoned by using the intercom on the pay machines and at the pedestrian entrances.

The nearest car park is Q-Park Deansgate North, M3 7WJ, which is a five-minute walk from The Stoller Hall, and is open 24/7. Unfortunately we are no longer able to offer discounted parking vouchers for this car park.

Other public car parking managed by Manchester City Council is available at within easy reach of Chetham’s.

How will my ticket work?
Tickets for all events will need to be booked in advance via our website. We operate a paperless ticketing system; please print out your tickets in advance or have them ready to scan on a mobile device.

Please keep your belongings to a minimum and with you at all times. All visitors should arrive in good time to allow security at the gate to check the contents of any essential baggage. For security reasons, large bags and suitcases are not permitted on site (and bags larger than 35 cm x 40 cm x 19 cm). We recommend visiting to search for luggage storage locations in Manchester.

How accessible is Chetham’s site?
Chetham’s Library is located within a 600-year-old building, therefore all visitors must be aware that there will be uneven flooring, cobblestones and occasionally low lighting. The Library is across a cobbled yard and via a flight of eighteen steps, with seating provided in all areas of our tours. Unfortunately, we have no lift and no disabled toilet facilities. Wheelchair users and others unable to manage the stairs can still enjoy full access to the collections as readers, but may be unable to join our regular tours.

We have no public toilets (the building is shared by Chetham’s School of Music), therefore we advise visitors to be prepared to begin the tour as soon as the guide arrives. However, our staff facilities will be available for those who require access for medical reasons. The nearest public toilets are located at Victoria Station, and The Arndale Centre.

Please contact us if you require further details or assistance.

What time can I arrive?
Please arrive at the gates a few minutes before the tour start time. Due to safeguarding regulations, the group will need to wait outside the gates for the guide to come to collect them. As there is no shelter outside the site, we would advise coming dressed appropriately for the weather.

Can I take photographs?
Yes! However, we ask for you to wait until your guide has arrived so that safeguarding procedures can be explained in terms of photography. In consideration for the guide and fellow visitors, we ask that you avoid using flash photography and wait for the guide to finish talking first. Please turn any sound effects off your camera, that would also be much appreciated. Our aim is to provide a quality guided tour for our visitors, therefore we advise those wanting to take professional photographs to make an appointment.