4th March 2013
We decided, after a debate at the British Museum, to get on the tube to King’s Cross and go to the British Library instead. I had thought it would have to wait until our next visit to London but as our train didn’t leave until 8.35pm we had the time. The British Library had a few exhibitions on and the kept me amused while my companions found a bench and read. I had wanted to see the Mughal Empire Exhibitions, but it cost to go in and I’m still broke.
The King’s Library Tower
The first thing to catch our eyes as we entered the Library was The King’s Library Tower. Six floors of books kept in a controlled environment purpose built for them in 1998. These books were the property of King George III and were presented to the nation by King George IV. They range in date from 1454 to the 1820’s and form the heart of the Library’s collection. It was fascinating to look around the outside of the tower and see how valued old books are.
Folio Society Gallery – A –Z Murder in the Library: An A – Z of Crime Fiction
This display was arresting to say the least; it covers all aspects of crime fiction with a small display of books and related memorabilia. I didn’t spend long there though because I got distracted by another exhibit.
The Sir John Ritblat Gallery: Treasures of the British library
I have officially found a new happy place. Next time my sickness gets too much I shall close my eyes and remember this gallery. It’s dark, calm peace was a balm and the books, oh the books! I only left because time was getting on and I felt rude abandoning my friends for so long.
This gallery houses some great treasures, books I’d thought I wouldn’t see for years. The Beowulf manuscript, Jane Austen’s notebook (Volume the third) and writing desk given to her by her father, the Lindesfarne Gospels and The Gutenberg Bible, illuminated manuscripts, the Luttrel Psalter, Leonardo Da Vinci’s notebook, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the Magna Carta. So much, so many precious manuscripts. I can’t. There are no words.
Go and see it if you are in London. So much history is laid out before your eyes. There are interactive units that allow you to ‘turn the page’ virtually. I had a quick look at them but they were in use so I can’t really give an opinion on them.
The Library also houses The Philatelic Collection – a collection of stamps from all over the world as well as die blanks. I had a quick look in some of the frames, but I’m not really interested in stamps. I should imagine though that from its range in terms of age and origins, for a philatelist it would be very interesting.
The Library also has a Café, which seem busy when I peeked in. I didn’t get too see what sort of food was on offer or the prices.
There was ample seating/study areas throughout the Library for those who were there to study, and it seemed to be a very popular place.
The shop – I spent money I didn’t have on five books. I am bad. Very bad. However two of the books are new books which will get reviewed and the other three were about certain of the ‘Treasures’ exhibit manuscripts.
So that was my afternoon at the British Library. I would recommend anyone go to visit it, whether for study, to see the exhibits or just to get out of the cold for an hour because it’s a fascinating place. I’ll stop rhapsodising about old books now, and say goodbye,