Saturday, 4 July 2009

When is a Church Not a Church?

When its the John Rylands Library in Manchester of course, (well it really does look like a church, although it never was) but I digress here. Today started off with heavy rain right up until lunch time which was a shame as we were planning on going on the open top tour bus, that will now have to wait for a day or two.

After lunch the weather improved but we still had occasional showers which were not bad enough to stop a trip back into the city. We headed back to the Town Hall and the information centre as we were curious as to whether Granada studios still had anything open to the public. It transpires that there is nothing available these days.

As we were at the Town Hall and a sign at the door stated “Visitors Welcome” we wandered in for a look. Unfortunately with the current festival in full swing and a wedding booked for one of the function rooms only the entrance foyer and ground floor were open to the public but this was enough to give us a taste of what this building was all about. This Gothic style building is amazing just from the little that we did see.

As it was still relatively early we walked back to the John Rylands Library  which is now associated with the Manchester University (It became a Grade 1 Listed Building in 1994). This is another truly magnificent Gothic style building that came about through the generosity of John Rylands third wife as a memorial to the city which made John a wealthy man.

Manchester 066 The original front entrance to the John Rylands Library building in Manchester.

The books in the various sections were probably well out of our league as many were in various languages but the interest to us was the building, stone staircases, marble pillars,stained glass windows, wrought iron fittings and arched ceilings. The rest was about the woodwork in wall panels, radiator surrounds and even the bookcases which rose majestically from floor to ceiling. Even the lowly toilets were still in their original Victorian condition which was like walking through a time warp. It is truly a monument to the craftsmen that built it over a ten year period in it’s era. The funny part of the whole story is that the architect only took a week to design it but much of the plan was changed during the building process due to various problems but the end result is still nothing less than stunning.

Manchester 073 Is it a safe or a door? No it's 5 light switches in the John Rylands building in Manchester.

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