Hidden Manchester – Chetham’s Library

History lovers staying at luxury serviced apartments in Manchester’s city centre may feel they’ve booked into a cultural desert, but this is not so. There is a wealth of civic and industrial landmarks to visit – many of which were well established long before the Industrial Revolution even arrived. Chief among these has to be Chetham’s Library. The oldest free public reference library in Great Britain and the oldest English language library in Europe, it’s a “must see” for anyone renting serviced apartments in Manchester city centre.

Chetham’s is easy to overlook, hidden as it is just off Millennium Square and next to the stunningly futuristic Urbis Centre. In 2009 the centre had a “Hidden Manchester” exhibition. A truly surreal experience was to wander the flatiron contours of this award-winning masterpiece; all glass, steel and digital technology – and then head for its Hidden Manchurian neighbour, where the books are chained to the wall as they were in the 17th century. The building itself is one of the oldest in Manchester, part of the 15th century Chetham’s Music School.

Although you can’t borrow the books (the oldest public lending library in the UK is at St Mary’s Church, in Surrey) you can still use them for reference. Once inside, you can take Manchester’s staunch tradition of Socialism to heart, and sit at the same window seat Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx sat, while Engels was composing his masterpiece, “The Condition of the Working Classes in England.”

Whatever your political beliefs, we at Serviced City Pads recommend a visit to Chetham’s for any “culture vulture” booking accommodation in Manchester.