TREASURES OF THE BRITISH LIBRARY, LONDON, WITH KIDS

It was World Book Day recently and, if you are looking for a literary based trip with the children, where could be better than The Treasures of the British Library?  The British library is the second largest in the world and holds 150 million items.  It’s a serious research library rather than a place to find a kids’ corner with a range of picture books and you have to be a member to access reading materials. You won’t be taking books home with you unless you visit the excellent bookshop on site.

This huge collection has some interesting highlights for families. I confess we popped in on a whim, as we were staying in a hotel next door, rather than because we were planning an educational literary journey. What we found was far more than we were expecting. I won’t be showing you a lot of photos on this post because photography isn’t allowed in the collections. You need to go and see them with your own eyes!  There is no cost and it’s well worth a visit if you are in London.

HARRY POTTER

Later this year the British Library will be celebrating 20 years of Harry Potter with an exhibition dedicated to the books.  Tickets for the exhibition Harry Potter, A History of Magic go on sale 3rd April 2017. The exhibition runs from 20 October 2017 – 28 February 2018. Inspired by the subjects that Harry studies at Hogwarts ‘This is a thrilling new exhibition that will showcase a fascinating display of wizarding books, manuscripts and magical objects, and combine centuries-old British Library treasures with original material from Bloomsbury’s and J.K. Rowling’s own archives’.

Click here to find out more.

 

PHILATELY

I noted an old printing press, which  printed the first Penny Black stamps in Britain, next to the philately gallery where some of the rarest and greatest stamps in the world are displayed.

TREASURES OF THE BRITISH LIBRARY

The Sir John Ritblat Treasures of the British Library Gallery is an astonishing collection of key pieces of interest. There is literally something for everyone in this fascinating collection. An original Magna Carta, the Lindisfarne Gospels, Beowolf, Handel’s Messiah written by Handel himself, writings of Charles Dickens and Jane Austen and let’s not forget Leonardo da Vinci’s notebook.

Photo Paul Downey CC/BY

All of these treasures are originals, stored carefully (in some cases for hundreds of years) and available to everyone to see for free, in a darkened room in the middle of London.

If that all sounds highbrow, the collection includes the Beatles’ original lyrics for various songs, some written quite literally on the backs of envelopes and cards. Original drafts of Ian Fleming’s James Bond sit alongside 600 year old bibles.

Some exhibits particularly appealed to my 9 year olds. A letter from Florence Nightingale reporting on the conduct and ability of her nurses was one and correspondence between Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII another. Each case reveals another story, another piece of history. A letter from Churchill, writing by Darwin, the fascinating stories told by the writers of these documents forming part of British and international history for centuries. Items come and go from the collection here.

The Alice in Wonderland piece we had wanted to see had been removed as some items can only be in the light for a certain period of time. As you walk around the darkened room you hear people exclaiming and calling to each other quietly as they discover something else. I hadn’t been expecting that Sunday morning to see documents relating to the beginnings of the British constitution, the founding of the Christian monasteries or even discovering quite how short some of the Beatles songs really are. The gallery is a treasure trove of literary achievement in all its forms.

On World Book Day and beyond, the place to go for a trip through Britain’s literary legacy is undoubtedly the British Library.

 

PIN FOR LATER

 

WHERE JO GOES -CITY BREAKS WITH KIDS 

Porto – Jardins do Palacio de Cristal/Porto- Food Tour/Porto City Highlights/New York/Oxford UK/London – Greenwich/HMS Belfast/British Library/O2 Arena/Royal Albert Hall/World’s Biggest Lego Store/Ham House /Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre/

 

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This post is in no way endorsed or sponsored by any of the organisations mentioned. All views and book browsing recommendations are the opinion of the author.

49 Comments

  1. February 28, 2017 / 3:20 pm

    Where better to visit on world book day, I’m embarrassed to say I have never been myself #CityTripping

    • March 1, 2017 / 10:43 am

      Neither had I till this year! It deserves more prominence on the tourist trail. Thanks for reading.

  2. February 28, 2017 / 4:45 pm

    Love this! Thank you for sharing! It’s definitely going on my next time I’m in London list… #citytripping

    • March 1, 2017 / 10:42 am

      Such a lot of amazing things in one room! Thanks for reading.

  3. February 28, 2017 / 7:27 pm

    I can’t believe I’ve never been to the library either. I obviously spent too much time in the British Museum. #CityTripping

    • March 1, 2017 / 10:40 am

      Well worth a pop in! Thanks for reading.

  4. March 1, 2017 / 12:24 pm

    I’ve been into the British Library a few times, but I haven’t yet explored all it has to offer. I really want to go back to look at the Magna carta now! And I’m slightly taken aback that it’s almost 20 years since the first Harry Potter. Where do the years go? I came to this post via #citytripping, but it would be perfect for my own #CulturedKids too, if you wanted to link up with another great linky this Friday (3 March). We’d be delighted to have you!

    • March 1, 2017 / 1:48 pm

      Thanks Nell I would love to! My husband is a lawyer so he was well excited to see the Magna Carta. They have a great little film explaining it too.

    • March 1, 2017 / 6:45 pm

      Yes I think the Harry Potter exhibition will be very popular! Thanks for reading.

  5. March 1, 2017 / 6:35 pm

    What an eclectic range of artefacts. I really must visit especially with the Harry Potter exhibition. Like your idea of combining with the studio tour for a Potter filled weekend! Thanks for linking #citytripping

    • March 1, 2017 / 6:46 pm

      Eclectic about sums it up! Thanks for hosting #citytripping

  6. March 3, 2017 / 11:13 am

    This is honestly a place I would never thought was a good place for kids. Goon for you for giving it a go! #CulturedKids

    • March 3, 2017 / 11:16 am

      Oops, today is typo day 😉 Of course I mean GOOD for you. Can I blame that one on having the twins trying to tell me it is lunch time at 11am? I used to be able to think straight, I swear.

  7. March 3, 2017 / 4:22 pm

    I am embarrassed to say I had no idea that this was all in the British Library… as I’ve never been either! What a fascinating collection, must go and check it out #citytripping

    • March 3, 2017 / 10:55 pm

      I’d love to have a root around some of the bookshelves! Such a fascinating place. Thanks for hosting #citytripping

  8. March 3, 2017 / 4:25 pm

    An excellent destination for World Book Day. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in that library for work purposes but never with the kids. Sounds like a good offering.
    #culturedkids

    • March 3, 2017 / 10:53 pm

      What a wonderful environment to work in. 150 million books! 📖 Thanks for reading.

  9. March 3, 2017 / 6:41 pm

    Thanks for this. I didn’t know about the Roald Dahl exhibition, we are reading ‘George’s marvellous medicine at the moment’ Kitty loves Quentin Blake’s drawings. My friend once interviewed him and it was Valentines and she asked him to draw something for her husband and he did !! What a lovely man. Anyway thanks for the post.

    • March 3, 2017 / 10:48 pm

      Wow that is an awesome Quentin Blake story! Lucky husband! Thanks for reading. My kids are 9 and still like ve Roald Dahl ❤

  10. March 24, 2017 / 8:45 pm

    What a wonderful way to spend a day! We visited the British Library some years ago and loved it. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  11. March 24, 2017 / 11:03 pm

    Coming from the US it amazes me that this is free! It sounds so interesting, I love all those authors, so definitely will add to my London to do list. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

  12. March 24, 2017 / 11:19 pm

    Wow, I never realized there was so much to see at the British Library. Thank you for sharing. I’m definitely going to plan a visit. #theweeklypostcard

  13. March 25, 2017 / 1:15 am

    I have never been but sounds like a fun place to explore. Interesting to hear they are doing something for the Harry Potter anniversary, it is a much talked about anniversary up here in Edinburgh as well 😉

    • March 25, 2017 / 6:52 am

      Yes I had a look for what was happening in Edinburgh but couldn’t find any specifics. I’ll keep an eye out!

  14. April 6, 2017 / 12:23 am

    I’ve never been to BL with kids before… well not inside with them yet but we had stopped by in the garden to have picnics. I can’t wait for my kids to get stuck into these books so I can take them in without braking anything! lol! #FamilyDaysOut @Britmums

    • April 6, 2017 / 8:18 pm

      Yes they need to be probably junior school age to appreciate it!

  15. April 14, 2017 / 10:29 pm

    This is a great resource. I wish I had visited when I was in London several years ago. My daughter would love to visit the Harry Potter exhibit when it arrives.

    • April 14, 2017 / 10:41 pm

      Tickets went on sale last week it looks fascinating!

  16. April 15, 2017 / 1:03 pm

    OK, we’ll be in London this May. I’m adding the library to my itinerary! Thanks for linking up this week! #wkendtravelinspiration

  17. April 16, 2017 / 4:40 am

    Being a nerdy librarian, the British Library was one of the highlights of my trip to London, many years ago!!

  18. April 22, 2017 / 9:13 pm

    150 million items!! that’s a lot. My kids don’t know Harry Potter yet, otherwise, it would have been a great way to spend a day

  19. April 26, 2017 / 4:33 pm

    I’ve always wanted to go inside and look around but always felt too awkward to do it! I’ll def have to next time Im in that part of town now! #wanderfulwednesday

  20. April 26, 2017 / 6:35 pm

    I love the British Library! Had no clue about this HP exhibit though and now I’m desperate to go!!!

  21. April 27, 2017 / 3:48 pm

    I absolutely loved Roald Dahl as a kid (and now!) and Quentin Blake’s illustrations. I would visit this just for that alone!

  22. April 27, 2017 / 5:21 pm

    Awww I would love to visit tha Harry Potter Exhibition! Guess that’s a good “excuse” to visit London before the year ends…

  23. June 25, 2017 / 8:47 pm

    What a brilliant trip! Are there any exhibits there which would appeal to younger children? What age do you think they would need to be to get the most out of a trip? Thank you #TheListLinky

    • June 26, 2017 / 10:07 am

      I would say it’s for children who are age 8+ rather than younger ones. Thanks for reading.

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