British Library

Price guide: Free

96 Euston Road, St Pancras, London, NW1 2DB

Price guide: Free

British Library main entrance - © visitlondonimages/britainonview
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By Nigel Tisdall, your London expert

I write for Marie Claire, The Daily .... Read more
#20 of 30
expert-rated things to do in London
Expert overall rating:3.9 out of 5
Value for money:
Recommended for:
Culture vultures, Families with teenagers, Mature travellers, Singles, Education, History, Sightseeing

Expert review of British Library

A small but powerful display of literary treasures.

Home to the UK's national library, this austere red-brick colossus opened next to St Pancras railway station in 1998. While it is primarily used for study and research, there are also several exhibition spaces that will appeal to lovers of books, stamps, illustration and the spoken word. Some are used for changing displays on subjects ranging from the use of censuses to the playwright Terence Rattigan (2011 is the centenary of his birth). The prime lure, though, is the permanent Sir John Ritblat Gallery. Here, in a hushed, low-lit atmosphere you can admire a treasure-house of maps, illuminated manuscripts, sacred texts and historical documents that includes the Magna Carta, works by Shakespeare, the score for Handel's Messiah and the diary of the doomed polar explorer Captain Scott. I always find something to marvel at here - most recently the spidery handwriting of Charlotte Bronte penning 'Reader, I married him' in her 1846 novel Jane Eyre.

Price advice: 

Admission to exhibitions is free. Access to the Reading Rooms is only for registered users.

Expert tips: 
Catching a train at Euston or King's Cross St Pancras stations and have some spare time? Then drop in here and learn something!
If you want to see the Reading Rooms, book a free Viewing Gallery tour - they take place Mon, Wed and Fri at 11am.

More information on British Library:

Price guide:
96 Euston Road, St Pancras, London, NW1 2DB
0843 2081144
Months open:
All year round
Opening times:
Mon,Wed-Fri 9.30am-6pm, Tue 9.30am-8pm, Sat 9.30am-5pm, Sun 11am-5pm.

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