Manchester Civic Society would like to say a massive thank you to the staff at Chetham’s for making our event truly one to remember. We were given a fascinating insight to the history and architecture of the buildings by Clare Hartwell, from its origins as a college of priests in 1421 to the establishment of the library and school for poor boys under the will of Humphrey Chetham in 1653.
Simon Chaplin, Events and Operations Manager at Chetham’s, gave us a brief history of the school from its change from a boys grammar school to a co-educational specialist music school in 1969 to more recent developments, mainly the construction of the impressive new school building and concert hall.
Then followed tours of both the original and new buildings. Despite the size and stark modernity of the new building it sits politely next to the medieval grandeur of the old. From the dazzling atrium we were shown the Carole Nash Hall, a versatile performance space used for both practice and public performances, and the soundproofed classrooms. The as yet uncompleted concert hall will have a full size stage and seating for audiences.
Back at the original site there were tours of the cloister court, audit room, library and reading room which features a magnificent carved wooden tympanum and chained books. Everything is so well preserved it really is a trip back in time. Following the building of the new school the 15th century buildings will become part of a new visitor attraction in 2014 and will be Manchester’s not-so-hidden gem!
For more information on the library and the history of Chets visit: www.chethams.org.uk