Manchester Wanders 1 : John Rylands Library and Albert’s Schloss

John Rylands Library - Manchester (2)

I decided over the past couple of weeks to take my blog into a bit of a different direction this year. Don’t worry, I’ll still be featuring all the amazing restaurants, foodies markets and bars that Manchester has to offer; but I also want to share a bit more of the city. Things like art galleries, museums and general places of interest.

Hence the creation of the Manchester Wanders series. Blog posts which will document my general wanderings around this wondrous city (see what I did there). Sampling some food and drink along the the way or course, but also letting you know what else I stumble across.

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First up, I thought I’d take you along to the beautiful John Rylands Library. Which me and my friend Katie went to visit the other week. It’s somewhat of a surprise to see this Neo-Gothic building in the middle of Deansgate. I’d been aware of the library from my time at The University of Manchester, it’s been a part of the Uni since 1972, housing their Special Collections. I never got to visit it as a student; as it was undergoing mass refurbishment from 2003-2008, which was when I attending the University.  For the longest time, working in town, I never got round to visiting. Thinking about it now it seems rather stupid of me to have not done. But better late than never!

It’s free to visit and is open 7 days a week. No expense was spared in it’s creation.

So who was John Rylands and why does he have a library? John Rylands was a 19th century cotton manufacturer and entrepreneur, and has been noted as Manchester first multi-millionaire. At it’s peak his company Rylands & Sons had a workforce of 15,000 in over 17 mills and factories.

After his death in 1888, his third wife Enriqueta Tennant wanted to create a permanent memorial to her husband and so commissioned architect Basil Champneys. It would take 10 years to build.

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It’s been open to the public since January 1st 1900. Housing over 1 million manuscripts – you can learn more about the collections here.

The Historic Reading Room is quite a sight to behold, you can still go there and study, or just take in the peaceful atmosphere. It’s an amazing space to just sit in for a while and take in the surroundings. It was also featured in the popular BBC series Peaky Blinders, if you thought it looked familiar.

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I’d definitely recommend a visit if your a bibliophile, architectural enthusiast; or just want to escape the noise of the city for an hour or so.

After our visit to John Rylands we decided a spot of lunch was in order, so took a short walk up Deansgate to see what was on offer.

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We ended up grabbing a quick bite and a beer in Albert’s Schloss – cook haus and bier palace!

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For starters we shared the beet hummus and smoked feta with pomegranate, coriander and flat breads. Surprisingly filling and really tasty, such a gorgeous colour too, only £5.50.

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Followed by a main of Alpine pizza for me, with prosciutto, mushrooms, taleggio and truffle oil, which was spot on – the base was cooked to perfection.

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And Katie went for the Winter salad – with roasted squash, apple, kale, almond, mint, grapes, cherries, seeds, grape, dijon mustard dressing and added halloumi. I have to admit I was rather jealous when it arrived.

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I should have really got some pictures of the actually venue itself as it is literally amazing. A huge Bavarian dining hall, with banquet tables, open fires, in-house bakery, and Pilsner, delicious Pilsner. It’s a good excuse to go back to get some more snaps anyway!

After we’d finished our lunch we made one more stop at The Refuge just on the corner of Oxford Road. Another favourite of mine which I will have to go back and do a proper review of. But for now here’s Katie, enjoying her wine there and laughing at her phone.

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Have you enjoyed my first Manchester Wander? Where shall I go next? Any requests or recommendations for me?

Whilst you’re here please check out Katie’s website, she is an excellent photographer, see her work here >>


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