The oldest library in the English-speaking world has finally reopened its doors to the Manchester public today.
Chetham’s Library was founded in 1653 by English textile merchant, financier and philanthropist, Humphrey Chetham, and had remained open in the heart of Manchester city centre ever since – until the pandemic hit in March 2020.
Just like the majority of our great city, the iconic library was forced to temporarily close, but after 15 long months, the library will finally welcome visitors back today.
This has been the longest period of closure in the library’s rich 350-year history.
To mark this special occasion, a new programme of visitor tours will reveal rare items from the library’s priceless collection, with personal stories, historic maps and documents, and rarely-seen images of historic Manchester also on show.
The library said that some of the items from its collection will be on display for the first time.
Now a museum as well as a library, visitors to the Grade I-listed medieval building will be able to see a wide range of Manchester-related treasures that highlight the impressive development of the city from its market-town origins, through the Industrial Revolution and into the modern age.
Some of the items on show include the seventeenth-century manuscript of the first history of Manchester, original watercolours by the town’s antiquarian one-legged saddlemaker, Thomas Barritt (1743-1820), and the first printed map of the town.
There’s so much more than just books and academic literature on offer.
“It has been 15 long months since we last welcomed visitors or academic researchers through our doors.” said Fergus Wilde, a librarian at Chetham’s Library.
“This is our longest closure in 350 years, so it is with great joy and relief that we now welcome people back into our historic buildings.
“The library’s wide-ranging collections have a remarkable story to tell about Manchester’s growth and success [and] as we reopen our doors for guided tours and academic readers alike, we can’t think of a better place to start than by showcasing that Manchester story.”
Guided tours of the library building will now also resume in groups of up to six as a maximum, but Fergus has assured that they offer visitors “a deeper insight into our collections than ever before.”
You can find more information about the reopening of Chetham’s Library here.
Featured Image – Chetham’s Library
Iconic Sycamore Gap tree renamed ‘Sycamore Stump’ after heartbreaking vandalism
Someone has already changed the name of the iconic Sycamore Gap tree to ‘Sycamore Stump’ after it was felled in what’s believed to be an act of vandalism.
The famous tree was believed to be about 300 years old and was made famous when it appeared in the 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
It’s one of the most photographed trees in the world (Rockefeller’s Christmas tree might just edge that one) and has stood on Hadrian’s Wall for centuries.
But overnight on Wednesday, this world-famous tree was felled, leaving just a small stump behind.
Someone has already changed its name on Google Maps from Sycamore Gap to Sycamore Stump, echoing the public outcry over the tree’s disappearance.
The National Trust said on Thursday: “We are shocked and desperately saddened to learn that the famous Sycamore Gap tree at Hadrian’s Wall has been felled overnight, in what appears to be an act of vandalism.
“We know just how much this iconic tree is loved locally, nationally and by everyone who has visited.
“We are working with our partners to understand what has happened and what can be done. The incident has also been reported to the police.”
Police have now confirmed that a 16-year-old boy has been arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage.
Supt Kevin Waring of Northumbria police said: “This is a world-renowned landmark and the events of today have caused significant shock, sadness and anger throughout the local community and beyond.
“An investigation was immediately launched following this vandalism, and this afternoon we have arrested one suspect in connection with our inquiries.
“Given our investigation remains at a very early stage, we are keeping an open mind. I am appealing to the public for information to assist us – if you have seen or heard anything suspicious that may be of interest to us, please let us know.”
Lee Rigby’s son is raising tens of thousands for charity in honour of his dad
Jack Rigby, the son of soldier Lee Rigby, is raising an absolutely huge amount of money for charity in memory of his father.
Rigby, a former Royal Fusilier who served in Afghanistan for three years, was tragically murdered by extremists Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale outside the Woolwich Barracks in May 2013 and now, over a decade after his death, his son is hoping to raise as much as possible in his honour.
His dad was 25 when he was killed and Jack himself was only two-years-old at the time. Now 13, the inspiring young man set out on his fundraising journey earlier this year, completing a marathon on behalf of Scotty’s Little Soldiers back in May, a military bereavement charity.
Setting himself the goal of reaching the ‘Scotty’s March’ £10k target — i.e. hoping to raise a £1,000 for each year since his passing — Jack and his family have been blown after the fundraiser has already amassed over £55k in donations.
With the goalposts now being moved to £60,000 after Jack and his mum Rebecca’s efforts have led to nearly £55k in contributions to the specialised bereavement organisation to support grieving military children and young people up to the age of 25.
Writing in his post when the fundraiser was first set up, Jack said, “This year marked the 10-year anniversary, it’s never easy but this year felt even harder for some reason. To help me through this year I have been concentrating on raising funds and awareness for Scotty’s Little Soldiers…
“This [has] really helped me to concentrate on something positive at a very difficult time while helping this amazing charity“, an intitiave he has been a part ever since he was a young child, adding that he named his dog Scotty in tribute to their important work for military families across the UK.
It was only earlier this year that the teenager spoke out about his father for the first time having already smashed his fundraising target before he had even run his marathon.
As for mum, she said: “Jack was so excited to see the amount grow and seeing how much each donation made him smile meant the world to me. He and I read all the messages of support and were thankful for them all. We honestly couldn’t believe how kind and generous people were being.”