Thursday, 28 August 2014

The Ladies' Flower-Garden

From the collection of Edward Watkin comes this delightfully illustrated gardening manual of 1843, written by Jane Loudon and with exquisite lithographs by Day and Haghe.

Jane C. Loudon (born Jane Webb) was an author of science fiction long before the term was invented, imagining her characters in a futuristic world of trousers for ladies, hair ornaments made of permanent fire, and steam-powered automatons taking the place of surgeons and lawyers. On her marriage to John Loudon, a writer on gardening and agriculture, she became enthused for his subject, and began to write gardening manuals for ladies and those new to the hobby, something nobody had before conceived of.

The Ladies’ Flower-Garden, or Ornamental Perennials, is illustrated with numerous lithographic plates by William Day and Louis Haghe, ‘Lithographers to the Queen’, who produced a large quantity of technically brilliant lithographic work in the early Victorian period.

Heritage Open Days and New Lunchtime Opening

Don't forget that we are open for Heritage Open Days on Saturday 13 September. This is a rare opportunity to look round the Library and the beautiful medieval buildings at the weekend, so come along and have a wander round the cloisters, lose yourself among the book presses, and soak up the atmosphere.

From next Monday we're also open at lunchtimes every weekday, so if you work in Manchester and would like to come and spend your lunch hour somewhere a little bit different, pop along and see us!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Chetham's Library awarded Full Museum Accreditation

We are very happy to have been awarded Fully Accredited Museum Status as part of Arts Council England’s newly updated national Accreditation Scheme. This has involved a lot of hard work from Library staff and we are delighted to have been rewarded in this way. There are currently just under 1800 museums participating in the Accreditation Scheme, which sets nationally agreed standards for museums in the UK, defining good practice and standards and helping museums to be the best they can be. In addition to this, the Library’s entire holdings are also Designated as a collection of national importance under ACE’s Designation Scheme, representing a fantastic achievement for an institution of our size.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Peter Manchester

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre, which took place on August 16th 1819. This image of ‘Peter Manchester’ is one of the more unusual and interesting images of the period. It is apparently dated 1815, thus predating the events at Peter’s Fields, and this appears to be confirmed by Thomas Swindells in his Manchester Streets and Manchester Men of 1907. Why this sympathetic and dignified portrait of an archetypal working man with his noble features and almost aristocratic bearing should have been given the title of ‘Peter Manchester’ before the name Peterloo became synonymous with the struggle for the rights of working people is a mystery.

In the hand-coloured engraving by Daniel Orme, portrait painter of Piccadilly, Peter Manchester stands upright, facing the onlooker in a position of strength and vigour, wearing his patched working clothes and carrying a bundle of frayed rope, which may indicate his occupation. He is pictured in front of the elegant Collyhurst sandstone buildings of High Street, near the junction with Cannon Street, close to where the current entrance to the Arndale Market may be found.

Regardless of the date of the image, this empowering and affecting portrait nevertheless powerfully conveys something of the dignified struggle of the working classes to achieve their emancipation and basic human liberties which the authorities so cruelly attempted to thwart on that notorious day 195 years ago.

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Thursday, 14 August 2014

Going underground

The Library entrance today, where our visitors normally come through into the medieval cloister... we are having new drainage and ducting but are open as usual, with visitors entering and exiting through the beautiful medieval Baronial Hall until the work is finished.

One of our earliest treasures

This week we've been getting out a number of very early deeds to help a reader with some research. This beautiful example dates from between 1189 and 1194 and is believed to be one of the earliest charters in the Library collection.

The charter is from John, Count of Mortain, who succeeded King Richard I in 1199, and establishes the ownership of lands around Furness Abbey (then in Lancashire. Measuring around 20 x 25 cm, it is in remarkable condition for a document which is now well over eight hundred years old.