Treasures of The British Library
By Francesca Fenn, Apr 2 2019 02:06PM
The British Library cannot be classed as a 'Little Museum of London'. However, it’s ‘Treasures’ gallery is an absolute gem, and it is not very large. It is very well worth searching out, so I wanted to include it in this series.
The Treasures gallery, or to give it its full name The Sir John Ritblat Treasures of the British Library Gallery offers a glimpse at some of the finest, rarest, oldest and most important items held by the Library. This gallery is a little cooler and darker than the surrounding rooms, as many of the display items are fragile. But don’t let that put you off. Tog up and enter, and you will see wonderful things wherever you turn!
The Magna Carta, 800 years old, and the document on which much of our common law is based, rubs shoulders with the first folio of Shakespeare’s works, published only seven years after his death. The words to ‘Yesterday’, scribbled on the back of a children’s birthday card by Paul McCartney shares space with Beethoven’s 6th Symphony, written in his own hand, and Handel’s Messiah, again in his own hand. Exquisite illuminated manuscripts, including the famous Lindisfarne Gospels are here, as is Charles’ Darwin’s letter, written when the penny dropped regarding the origin of species, and Galileo’s observations on sun spots. There books and manuscripts from ancient times to bang-up-to-date science and literature and, maps and objects too.
I could go on listing the many wonders in the gallery, but it is far better that you go and see them all for yourself. We are not allowed to take photos inside the gallery, but the rest of the public spaces in the library are worth a wander, especially the fabulous King’s Library in its glass case in the centre of the atrium, containing 65,000 books from the 18th century and before. And there’s a decent café!
Open daily, entrance is free.
Nearest stations: Kings Cross St Pancras, Euston and Euston Square.