Chetham’s Library

Chetham’s Library is the oldest public library in the English speaking world. It was founded in 1653 by Humphrey Chetham, a prosperous Manchester textile merchant, banker and landowner. Its status as an independent charity means that it remains open and free of charge to visitors, although there is a suggested donation of £3. The library houses a collection of early printed books, ephemera, manuscript diaries, letters and deeds, prints, paintings and even glass lantern slides. The Arts Council have designated their collection ‘as one of national and international importance’.

Chetham’s was the meeting place of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels when Marx visited Manchester in the summer of 1845. The economics books Marx was reading at the time can be seen on a shelf in the library, as can the window seat where Marx and Engels would meet. The research they undertook during this series of visits to the library led ultimately to their work on The Communist Manifesto.

The library has a regular events programme that often features readings from notable poets and classical musicains.