Sunday, 12 April 2015

A Trip to Gladstone’s Library

William Ewart Gladstone (29 December 1809 – 19 May 1898), was a British Liberal politician. In a career lasting over sixty years, he served as Prime Minister four separate times (1868–74, 1880–85, February–July 1886 and 1892–94); more than any other person.He also served as Chancellor of the Exchequer four times. Gladstone was also Britain's oldest Prime Minister; he resigned for the final time when he was 84 years old.  Gladstone is consistently ranked as one of Britain's greatest Prime Ministers.  Few politicians have achieved as many lasting reforms as Gladstone. He was a pragmatic political leader with an incessant concern with history, literature, the classical world and theological dispute and was a voracious reader.

Gladstone was born in Rodney Street, Liverpool, in a house directly opposite the office of Partner-who-loves-tea.

Gladstone lived in the village of Hawarden in North Wales, a few miles from Chester. He was eager to make his personal library accessible to others and with this in mind founded Gladstone’s Library in 1889, donating 32,000 of his own collection. After his death the library became the national memorial to ‘the grand old man’.

Today it serves as a residential library and meeting place dedicated to dialogue, debate and learning. It forms a hub of social interaction with 26 bedrooms, a varied programme of courses and events, conference rooms and free daily tours.

Formerly known as St Deiniol’s Library, Gladstone’s Library is run as a charity. 

We had a brief tour inside one of the rooms.

A folding wooden book rest.

In my last post you saw some of my pens. Here in a display case were some rather more memorable ones – those used by Gladstone.

If you are ever near Hawarden it is well worth a visit.


  1. It looks a superb day out.

  2. Wonderful :) That's what a library should look like. The old library in my birth town also had a high ceiling and a balcony. Not quite as impressive as this one, but still. It was my first library and it left an imprint! ;)

  3. My idea of heaven is a library. My Sweetie would live in the romance section!

  4. The words "residential library" and "26 bedrooms" made my heart beat faster - a library with bedrooms!!! Can't get any better than that, can it?
    The first picture of the inside looks like something out of Harry Potter.
    This was a very interesting post, and I learned some things I didn't know about. Thank you!

  5. What a glorious memorial to a great man. Andrew Carnegie, the steel baron, did a similar thing for the United States. For much of the early 20th century, nearly every town had a free Carnegie Library. Later the role was taken over by county and city libraries, but the original idea and first implementation of the idea came from Andrew Carnegie. A nice way to spend some of the millions he made with his steel mills.

    1. Carnegie did the same in this country and when I worked in Liverpool City Libraries there were at least eight Carnegie Libraries around the city. I worked, briefly, in all of them and they were so much more pleasant than the modern buildings. They haver a distinctive external appearance and one can spot them in various other cities as one passes through. . Sadly the Council has since closed some of them.

    2. I love the libraries, old and new. I've spent a lot of happy hours there, sitting a a carrell writing and reading, or browsing the shelves. I think it's shame when any library has to close.

    3. Carnegie's interests even stretched to the Outer Hebrides and when I came here 4 decades ago there was still a hostel for girls from outlying areas attending the Nicolson Institute named after his wife, Louise Carnegie.

  6. How educational was that CJ? Of course I know of Glasdtone's Liverpool birthplace and connections and, indeed, know quite a lot about him as Prime Minister and Statesman but I didn't know about the library.

  7. Beautiful library inside and out. Not blogging yet.

  8. Ah, I love the history and architecture here. Very impressive.


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