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Royalty at The Rylands

[Image- The Prince of Wales and the University Librarian on the Main Staircase]
The Prince of Wales admires the architecture of the Main Staircase with University Librarian and Director Jan Wilkinson.

Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall recently visited the John Rylands Library on Deansgate to view some of its most historic collections.

The magnificent neo-gothic building in Manchester city centre is a major visitor attraction as well as a research library of world renown.  The royal visitors met with the University's Deputy President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, the University Librarian and Director Jan Wilkinson and Deputy University Librarian Dr Stella Butler.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall were able to see the £17m restoration and conservation work undertaken during a recent three-year transformation project called 'Unlocking the Rylands', conserving the Grade I listed building and its collections.  During the project, many of the Library's four million books and manuscripts were stored in a Cheshire salt mine to protect them in a dry and stable atmosphere.

[The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall]
Ed Potten, Assistant Keeper of Printed Manuscripts, shows one of the smaller items from the collections to The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall.

During the visit, their Royal Highnesses viewed some of the most significant books and manuscripts ever produced including the St John Fragment, the oldest known surviving piece of the New Testament, dating from around 125AD.  They were also shown exquisite medieval illuminated manuscripts, the earliest example of European printing, the 1423 St. Christopher Woodcut, and the personal papers of distinguished historical figures including Elizabeth Gaskell.

Jan Wilkinson said: "We are truly honoured that The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall chose to visit the John Rylands Library today. We are very proud of the redevelopment of the Deansgate building, which has won a string of awards including a prestigious 2008 RIBA Award.

[Their Royal Highnesses meet Manchester firefighters]
Their Royal Highnesses meet the team of Greater Manchester firefighters who helped rescue survivors of the earthquake in Haiti.

""The John Rylands Library was founded by Enriqueta Rylands in memory of her husband John Rylands, and we feel that the building is once again true to what Mrs. Rylands intended to achieve all those years ago.  It is a powerful acknowledgement of her tremendous vision and determination, and of her unrivalled generosity in furnishing a library for the city of Manchester and the wider world.""

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall visited the Library as part of a series of engagements across Greater Manchester on Thursday 4th February. During their visit to the John Rylands, their Royal Highnesses also met with a team of Greater Manchester firefighters who recently returned from assisting the rescue effort in Haiti.