I am an unfettered sucker for spiral staircases, and the spiral staircase in St John’s library is indeed glorious: wrought iron, ethereal, delicate. Pure art. But what I love about it is: it’s not only artistic — it’s artful, too. It wends its way upward in a lazy sweep, and is positioned in just the right way so that one is unable to see any part of the library while still ascending the staircase … until the last step takes you right up to the ground level. Then you turn your head to the left, and your soul is sold.
rows and rows of shelves of books that look just like this —
and whose call-number indexes aren’t your average plastic/paper fare tacked unceremoniously to the ends of each bookshelf, but instead open out of the shelves like secret cupboards —
— and are handwritten —
and there’s more! Aside from being totally delicious, St John’s library is home to a sublime array of tomes, manuscripts, scrolls — pictures of which will follow in Part II to come. Stay with me, & don’t forget to breathe.