101 Treasures of Chetham's

A weekly series in which we highlight some of the Library's most interesting stuff, which as well as famous books and manuscripts includes furniture, paintings, and objects from the museum collection.

Limited space means that much of this material is not on permanent display, making this a rare opportunity to get a closer look at some of the jewels in the Library's crown.

Each weekly instalment is archived to create a unique perspective of the Library's holdings. Click on the links below to see treasures from previous weeks:

Opera of St Augustine, Bishop of Hippo

Sir Henry Knyvett's 'Defence of this Realm'

Ben Jonson's Plato

The Manchester Man

Sir William Hamilton: Campi Phlegraei

Tim Bobbin

Hooke's Micrographia

Clog Almanack

Budé Bible

Thomas Barritt's Sketchbook

Strawberry Hill

Aulus Gellius

John Dee

Newton's Principia

Harrold's Diary

Albert Memorial

Bolton's Harmonia Ruralis

Henry VIII's Prosper of Aquitaine

Saxton's Atlas of England and Wales

Latin Vulgate Bible

Portrait of Humphrey Chetham

Plantin Polyglot Bible

Karl Marx's Desk

Kuerden's History of Lancashire

Fore-edge Painting

Poetry of Alain Chartier

Glass Slides

Hollingworth's Mancuniensis

De Bry's Emblemata


Rocque's Map of London

Library of the Parish Church of Gorton

Christians Awake

Cologne Chronicle

Casson and Berry

Mouth of Hell

Manchester Scrapbook

Valentine's Rebus

Luddite Ticket

Book of Common Prayer

Flores Historiarum

William Seward's Diary

The Pigmy Revels

Papal Prayers of Alexander VII

Register of Swan Marks

Palm Leaf Manuscript

Hiroshige Woodblock Print


Death Mask

Medical Recipes

Mandate from Walter Ralegh

General Wolfe's Sword

Halliwell-Phillips Collection

Theatre Royal Playbills

Lysons' Woodchester

Hogarth Prints

Gibbs' Book of Architecture

Mercator's Atlas

Hobson's Musci Britannici

Lord's Prayer in Shorthand

Bomberg Biblia Rabbinica

Homer Editio Princeps

Grant of Edward VI

De Laet's Novus Orbis

Hymnorum de Sanctis Collectio

The Manchester Comet

John Donne's Poems

Withering's Account of the Foxglove

Milton's Paradise Lost

Percival's Census of Manchester

C16th and C17th Greek Orthodox Books

Works of the French Prophets

Southey's Letters to Espriella

Works of Athanasius Kircher

Arabic New Testament

Works of Terence in French and Latin

James Crossley

Chetham's Library Accessions Register and Booksellers' Invoices

Peterloo Massacre

Besler's Hortus Eystettensis

The Papers of Laurence Vaux

Belle Vue

Sarum Missal

Nuremberg Chronicle

Material Relating to John Dalton

The Armburgh Roll

Incline Press

William Hulme's Survey

Acta Sanctorum

Genoa Quadruplex Psalter

William Tyndale's New Testament

Historic Bindings from the Byrom Collection

Diaries and Life Writing

Reading Room Clock

Humphrey Chetham's Private Papers

South West Prospect

Tractatis de nigromatia

Wooden Printing Press

Rocque map of Smithfield

John Rocque, A plan of the cities of London and Westminster, and borough of Southwark, with the contiguous buildings; from an actual survey, taken by John Rocque, land-surveyor, and engraved by John Pine, Bluemantle.

Printed in London, 1746

It may seem odd for a library which specialises in the history of Manchester to single out a map of London as a treasure, but John Rocque’s 1746  large-scale plan of London is both a magnificent example of cartography and an indispensable reference tool for historians: one of the greatest and most handsome plans of any city.

Rocque map of London Bridge

John Rocque (properly Jean) was a French Huguenot émigré whose family settled in London in 1709. He worked initially as an estate surveyor with his brother Bartholomew, who ran a market garden in Fulham, and the two produced a number of plans of fashionable London estates. In 1737 he embarked on the ambitious project of surveying the whole of London at a scale of 26 inches to the mile, an undertaking which would take him more than nine years to complete.

The map was squared and numbered for reference, with scale bars in several measures, and was issued with an alphabetical index to streets and thoroughfares. Rocque produced an elaborate system of hatching and broken lines to distinguish buildings, market gardens, fields and woods and the map was engraved by John Pine, who described himself as Bluemantel Pursuivant at Arms and Engraver of Seals to His Majesty.

Rocque map of St Pauls

The Library holds a copy of Rocque’s 1740 proposal for engraving and printing the map as well as the 1746 plan. Each sheet measures approximately 27 x 19 inches (77 x 57 cm.) The twenty-four sheets are arranged in three rows of eight, and are referenced A-H horizontally and 1-3 vertically.

Rocque map of the Tower of London

The map proved popular and Rocque produced several later editions during his lifetime, in addition to several smaller plans of the London area. But the making and publishing of maps did not bring him material rewards: despite the grand title of ‘Topographer to His Majesty George III’, at his death in 1762 Rocque left his nephews just one shilling each.