The John Rylands Library

The John Rylands Library is worth a visit if you are interested in books, architecture, or Manchester’s rich industrial past. 

The neo-Gothic architecture and intricately carved, red stonework makes a striking impact on Deansgate, in stark contrast to the modern glass structures of neighbouring Spinningfields. 

The John Rylands Library from Deansgate

The library was commissioned by Enriqueta Rylands as a lasting tribute to her husband John Rylands, who owned the UK’s largest textile manufacturing business and became Manchester’s first multi-millionaire.

Marble statues of John and Enriqueta Rylands stand at opposite ends of the Reading Room, where they oversee the steady stream of visitors.

John Rylands statue in marble

Enriqueta Rylands marble statue

 The collections of leather bound, historic volumes are related to the following themes: world faiths, history of the bible, everyday life – personal stories, science and medicine, world literatures, Manchester local connections, and the arts and crafts of printing. There are regular exhibitions to highlight particular works of interest.

The reading room at John Rylands with stained glass reflection

If you’re not interested in the books, you can still enjoy the building, which is the same style as Manchester Town Hall. There’s a wide variety of carvings and sculptures, which were all chosen to create a visual feast for visitors. The stained glass windows in the Reading Room give the building an ecclesiastical feel and the bottle stained glass throughout the building was designed to protect readers from the distractions of pollution and the hustle and bustle of Victorian Deansgate.

Architectural staircase at John Rylands Library

Neo-Gothic ceiling at John Rylands Library

Observing the John Rylands reading room ceiling in a mirror

I doubt you’ll spend more than an hour exploring the library unless you take a tour, but entry is free and it really is worth a visit. I’d recommend popping in after lunch in Spinningfields for a spot of culture before you hit the shops, or set aside a day to explore Manchester as a tourist.

100 year old writing desk outside the reading room at John Rylands Library

Sign inviting users of the writing desk at John Rylands to take care of it

Writing pad at John Rylands, inviting visitors to leave a message

For more information about the library, click here to visit the website.

1 Comment On This Topic
  1. Carol Johnson
    6 years ago

    It looks a beautiful building another one for us to visit sometime.

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