Nantwich Free Library

The site of Nantwich  Museum has its own fascinating history. For many years a jail was situated here. In the 18th and early 19th centuries over half the population of England’s prisons were in jail because of debt. It also housed mentally ill people. When James Nield (a penal reformer and philanthropist) visited, in 1802, he reported that there were three lunatics in the prison. One of whom, a poor woman, was raving mad, and chained to her bed.

Some 80 years later the town decided to have a library here. Despite the fact that it was called Nantwich Free Library, ratepayers paid for the whole library (whether they used it or not) and then had to pay a subscription to be a member! Click on the pictures below, to find out more.

There’s more information here, written by Allan Whatley, who was a librarian and keen local historian.

Nantwich Museum would like to thank Cheshire Archives and Local Studies for providing some of the information on this page.

Nantwich Buildings

Nantwich Museum Home