Friday 28 January 2011

Parent's Hope

Enrolment certificate for the Juvenile Order of Rechabites dated 1874, belonging to Thomas Jones.

The International Order of Rechabites were a temperance friendly society founded in 1835. Friendly societies were intended to provide mutual support to groups of individuals with a common interest or employment, but meetings were generally held in public houses, a practice which made it difficult for supporters of the temperance movement to attend. Temperance friendly societies were therefore set up to allow teetotallers access to the benefits of mutual association.

The Rechabites took their name from a Biblical tribe who were commanded to 'drink no wine', and named their branches 'tents', the first of which was set up in Salford. In common with many enthusiastic nineteenth-century societies, a junior section was established to capture the early interest of children and young people.

The Order modelled their ritual and structure on Biblical practice, attaching great importance to insignia, regalia, ceremony and hierarchy, all of which was intended to give each member a sense of identity and progression, as well as to distinguish their order from other organisations and socieities.

Wednesday 26 January 2011

Four legs are better than one

This friendly zebra gazes out from the pages of Ulyssis Aldrovandi's De Quadrupedibus solipedibus, published in Bologna in 1649. This important zoological work illustrates and describes several important hoofed quadrupeds, including rhinos, elephants and many different horses, some with the face or limbs of a human, and those magnificent rarities the centaur and unicorn.

Ulyssis Aldrovandi (1522-1605) was a popular and successful lecturer and researcher at the University of Bologna where he became professor of philosophy and, two years later, professor of natural sciences. Chetham's Library owns all of his twelve published works of natural history, which were bought on 21 May 1656 from the London bookseller Robert Littlebury for the grand total of £19.10s.

Friday 14 January 2011

'The drollest concern I think I ever met with'

This image from John Rocque's 1746 Plan of the cities of London and Westminster shows the church of St Mary's Whitechapel, where in 1817 John Leech was a guest at a rather unconventional marriage service. He describes the humorous proceedings in a letter to his brother Thomas:
"I went to the wedding of James Tebbut; he was married at White Chapel Church. My wife & an acquaintance of J.T.s were there and afterwards all went to the fair. It was the drollest concern I think I ever met with. When he was asked by the Parson if he would have Kitty for his wedded wife he answered in very loud terms, 'Yes I will'. He was then asked if he would take her for better or for worse his answer was he would take her for better but not for worse. She was afterwards asked similar questions and on coming to the word obey (owing I suppose to his behaviour), she faltered in speech. Jim said, 'Say obey Kitty, why not say obey?', & many other ridiculous things which ultimately caused the Parson to reprimand him in strong terms, only for J.T. to tell him to go on with his business. After the ceremony was over the Revd Divine gave him his blessing but Jim told him he might keep it for himself for he did not want it. It was all of a piece throughout the day."
Rocque's beautiful engraved map of London was the first detailed large-scale plan of the city to be published. There are twenty-four sheets showing the city at a scale of 26 inches to the mile, which when laid edge to edge measure an impressive 13' x 6.75'.

You can find out more about Thomas Leech at our current exhibition of material from the Leech family archive during normal Library opening hours.

Friday 7 January 2011


Chetham's is proud to have developed strong links with Bolton University's MA Photography course, led by a good friend of the Library, Ian Beesley. For the last couple of years, the students have spent part of their studies at Chetham's, looking at early book illustration and the use of narrative. As part of their final presentation, the students are required to produce a photobook of their work, and the best is chosen by the Library to receive a special award. The judging process is currently underway, and in no particular order this year's shortlist is displayed below. The award will be presented at the launch of Voices, the exhibition of students' work to be shown at the People's History Museum from January 15th.

Exactly: A Week in the Life of 90 Minutes by Stephen Bingham

Yan, Tyan, Tethera: Life on a Cumbrian Hill Farm by Neal Andrews

Production by Sandra Snoddy

Dad Matters by Richard Gaskill and Salford Young Fathers Project

The Colour Purple: Caring for the Elderly in a Multicultural UK by Sangita Mistry

Transformation by Anna White

Clouds of Glory by Percy Dean

First Impressions by Mathew Davenport

Nightworkers by Karen Hope