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© Mr Nigel Wood

IoE Number: 388101
Location: JOHN RYLANDS LIBRARY, WOOD STREET (south side)
  MANCHESTER, MANCHESTER, GREATER MANCHESTER
Photographer: Mr Nigel Wood
Date Photographed: 10 January 2007
Date listed: 25 January 1952
Date of last amendment: 06 June 1994
Grade I

The Images of England website consists of images of listed buildings based on the statutory list as it was in 2001 and does not incorporate subsequent amendments to the list. For the statutory list and information on the current listed status of individual buildings please go to The National Heritage List for England.

MANCHESTER SJ8398SE DEANSGATE 698-1/27/118 (West side) 25/01/52 John Rylands Library and attached railings, gates and lamp standards (Formerly Listed as: DEANSGATE Rylands Library) GV I Library. 1890-99, by Basil Champneys, for Enriqueta Augustina Rylands in memory of her husband; with back extension 1912, also by Champneys. Red sandstone (roof not visible). Rectangular plan at right-angles to street, plus back extensions. Decorated Gothic style with Arts and Crafts accent. Two unequal storeys with the appearance of 3 storeys, designed like a church raised on a crypt, the facade composed of a 2-storey 3-bay centre (like the gatehouse of a monastery) flanked by square 2-storey 2-bay wings, with an embattled parapet to the whole and large octagonal lanterns over the wings; and, set back behind these, the east window of the reading hall flanked by square towers. The centre has very elaborate Gothic decoration throughout, including a 2-centred arched portal containing coupled doorways with a trumeau, a tall 2-light window each side, 2 small canted oriels above the portal, lacy blind tracery on all surfaces enriched with finely-detailed carving, and open-work aracading in the battlements; and the set-back 3-light east window of the hall has delicate reticulated tracery and shafts carried up to a similar open-work parapet. The walls of the wings and the towers, by contrast, are plain except for string courses enriched with grotesques: the wing to the left has tall transomed staircase windows at 1st floor with staggered sills, and low segmental-headed windows below these, that to the right has tall windows at ground floor and short ones above, and both have octagonal corner turrets with flying buttresses thrown back to the octagonal lanterns. The lanterns have transomed 2-light windows, blind tracery and open-work battlements like those of the centre, and the towers behind them have slender octagonal corner turrets and small 2-light windows above the level of the octagons. Return sides in similar style. Fine bronze forecourt railings with central double gates flanked by lamp standards, all in Art Nouveau style. Interior: very fine vaulted entrance hall and winding vaulted staircase; church-like reading hall with much elaborate decoration, including traceried arcades, rib-vaulted ceiling, panelled reading alcoves with oriel windows, statues of John Rylands and Mrs Rylands, etc. History: built to house the theological library of John Rylands (leading textile manufacturer and philanthropist), subsequently augmented by purchase of other collections, and now one of the finest in the country.

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