Last week, I posted another series of creative writing prompts inspired by Clayton Hall. For the next couple of weeks, I’m going to once again travel around the story of the Hall, posting some more prompts inspired by associated places. This week, I began with Chetham’s Library.
Chetham’s Library, which was founded in 1653, is the oldest surviving public library in Britain. It was established under the will of Humphrey Chetham (1580-1653), a prosperous Manchester textile merchant, banker and landowner who bought Clayton Hall with his brother George in 1620. Chetham also made provision for a school for forty poor boys, now a specialist music school, and for five chained libraries to be placed in local churches. Chetham’s will stipulated that the Library should be ‘for the use of schollars and others well affected’, and instructed the librarian ‘to require nothing of any man that cometh into the library’. Chetham’s Library has been in continuous use as a free public library for over 350 years, and the strength and breadth of the collections, coupled with its rich history, ensures that Chetham’s continues to be both a significant centre for study and research and a popular tourist destination.