British Library

Panoramas from London. Virtual tour and map of London

Photo By Peter Watts


This panorama was taken near to the entrance to the British Library in London, overlooking the library buildings and courtyard. The courtyard contains some interesting sculptures. Towering above the building to the east are the towers of the old St. Pancras railway station, now home to the Eurostar. The old station buildings are being converted into a new 5 star hotel.


British Library - London visitor guide showing a virtual tour of 'British Library' linked to an interactive map with local and travel information. 360° panoramas from Greater London.

The British Library, London, is home to the Lindisfarne Gospels, Two Gutenberg Bibles, Two 1215 copies of Magna Carta, the Egerton Gospel, the only surviving manuscript copy of the poem Beowulf and 347 leaves of the Codex Sinaiticus, the Stein collection from Central Asia and The Diamond Sutra (claimed to be the world's oldest dated printed book). And that is just the start, though some of the highlights, of one of the largest collections of manuscripts and other articles in the world. The King's Library is also housed here in a 3 storey glass tower. This collection itself has some 65,000 books apart from other pamphlets, manuscripts and maps, all collected by King George III between 1763 and 1820.

The British Library is now housed in a purpose built building near to Kings Cross station, right next to the Novotel London St Pancras Hotel. You pass through huge iron gates into a courtyard and then into the building itself. On your left will be a large crouching bronze called Newton, after William Blake. Ahead lies the layered building with the spires of the old St. Pancreas Station peering over the top to the right. There are a few places to sit and relax in the courtyard.

The British Library is more than just a building, but refers to a collection of books, which started off in 1753 as a department of the British Museum. Over the next 200 years the collection at the British Museum grew to become one of the largest in the world. This was helped by the fact that the British Library was entitled by law to obtain a free copy of almost every item printed in the UK, be they books, periodicals, maps newspapers or sheet music.
The British Library also contains a large number of foreign works, so many that Lenin declared it contained more Russian books than the libraries of Moscow or St. Petersburg. In 1983 the library expanded yet further with the addition of the National Sound Archive.

Currently the British Library contains some 150 million items, including 25 million books and continues to expand at a rate of some 3 million items annually. The collection includes manuscripts and documents that date back to 300 BC, thus the British Library has become not only a collection of books, but a vast museum as well. As mentioned before, many unique and important manuscripts are housed here, often on display to the public.

The Kings Collection and many antique items used to be on display in the British Museum, but in the late 20C a purpose built building was erected to contain it. This new library was not without controversy, no least the cost which soared to some £496 million. However, the result is a dedicated archive of printed and audio material from around the world, many of which are unique and present an invaluable research tool for everyone.


British Library
96 Euston Road
London, NW1 2DB
0870 444 1500
British Library Website


Tube: Kings Cross St Pancras (Circle, Metropolitan, Hammersmith & City, Norther, Victoria, Piccadilly lines), Euston (Northern, Victoria lines).

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