Gladstone's Library is a residential library and a unique and different place to stay, with a tranquil atmosphere ideal for inspiration. This guide has been produced to help make your stay with us as productive, enjoyable and memorable as possible.
Please do bear in mind that Gladstone's Library is a registered charity providing affordable accommodation particularly (but not exclusively) for those wanting a place to work or study. While our facilities and rooms are excellent, we do not have the resources to provide traditional "hotel" services such as room service, nor do we make your bed every day (although we will change your sheets and towels regularly).
• Accessibility: All of the ground floor is wheelchair-accessible. This includes two bedrooms (one twin, one double) that are wheelchair-friendly. Access to these bedrooms, Food for Thought and main meeting rooms is via a single step near the main entrance, with a ramp available from Reception. As a Grade I listed building, unfortunately we do not have a lift. If you require any books from the Reading Rooms galleries, please do ask a member of staff on the Enquiry Desk who will be happy to help.
• Afternoon Tea: Available in Food for Thought between 3pm and 4pm, Monday - Friday. Booking is essential.
• Aid equipment: We have equipment which we can supply within your room to aid your stay (booking in advance is necessary). We have a bed guard, a 'cool to touch' kettle, a fire warning alarm system and a personal hearing system (for those attending a course or using conference facilities).
• Airports: Liverpool John Lennon and Manchester Airport are both approximately one hour away. There is also a small, private airport in Hawarden.
• American guests: The US Friends of Gladstone's Library is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organisation. Please speak to the Library's Development Officer, Annette Lewis, if you would like to know more about their activities or are interested in making a tax-efficient donation.
• Anwyl Room: Previously our chapel, the Anwyl Room is one of our well-equipped meeting rooms, available to hire for groups of up to 16 people.
• Art: We would like to introduce you to four artworks to be found in and around the Library:
- Sophia: Carved by sculpture and architectural stone carver Tom Waugh, Sophia (meaning 'Wisdom' in Greek) has watched over the gardens at Gladstone's Library since 2010. Her four stone benches - Cariad (Love), Heddwch (Peace), Gwirionedd (Truth), and Cyfiawnder (Justice) - invite the thinker to come and idle for a while. Read a poem about Sophia here.
- Batik artist Buffy Robinson created a complex and stunning image of the interior of the Library in 2012. Permanently on display in Food for Thought, more information about the work and its creator can be found on Buffy's website.
- Monad: The glass altarpiece was created by artist Linda Crabbe for the new Chapel (built in 2009)
- Quilt: Also on permanent display (in the corridor that leads from Food for Thought to the Chapel) is a quilt designed and worked by 36 members of Hawarden Women's Institute. Celebrating the Millennium, it features the Community, the Environment, Religion and symbols of village life.
• Art Galleries: There are galleries at Ruthin Craft Centre, Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Chester Grosvenor Museum, and at main libraries in Denbigh, Wrexham and Llangollen.
• Bank: The nearest ATMs are available at the Co-op and HSBC bank in Ewloe, Tesco at Broughton or Asda at Queensferry. The Post Office in Hawarden village will also issue cash over the counter.
• Bar: We operate an Honesty Bar for residents in the Gladstone Room. If you would like bottles of wine or spirits / mixers in your room this can be arranged and the appropriate charge added to your bill. Please ask at Reception.
• Bedrooms: Most of our 26 bedrooms are en-suite. All have tea and coffee making facilities, hairdryers and Roberts digital radios. Bed linen is changed approximately every fourth day of your stay. Rooms are tended daily to change wet towels and replenish tea / coffee. Please do ask if you need more towels or additional blankets.
• Bathrooms: If you are in a standard room, there is a shared bathroom / toilet on each floor. If you have an en-suite room, we would ask that you do not use the shared bathrooms.
• Books: The unique offering at Gladstone's Library is our world-renowned collection of books, journals and periodicals. As well as the main collection, you will find books in all of our public rooms. Books cannot be taken off the premises, but most can be taken to your room – the only exceptions are Gladstone's own books which get homesick if they leave the Library!
• Breakfast: A continental breakfast is served from 8am – 9am and included in your stay. Hot options are available for a small extra fee.
• Buses: Hawarden has good bus links into North Wales and Chester (the number 4 runs twice an hour from the Glynne Arms to Chester and the X44 goes to Chester and Mold). The number 11 bus operates every half hour to Chester – it's quicker than the No.4. Bus timetables are available in the main corridor or on the Arriva bus website. Click here for discounted bus tickets and information on free hot drinks for adults travelling to / from Gladstone's Library by Arriva bus!
• Car parking: Parking onsite is limited. There is a good (free) public car park on Tinkersdale (A550), five minutes' walk away. Free parking is also available at the public library on Rectory Lane.
• Chapel and church services: There is a Eucharist every weekday morning at 8am in our Chapel. All are welcome. The Chapel provides a quiet space for contemplation and prayer. St Deiniol's Church (Church of Wales) is right next to the Library – times of services are available on the church noticeboard. The church is often left open during the day for visitors to explore and pre-booked tours are available (please see the church noticeboard for details). This church has the last ever stained glass window attributed to notable Pre-Raphaelite Edward Burne-Jones. Other churches in the area include Mancot Presbyterian, Ewloe Methodist and Hawarden Sacred Heart. Chester Cathedral is six miles away in Chester city centre.
• Check-out: Please check out of your room and settle your account by 10am on the day of departure. You are welcome to stay on after that time – luggage can be left in a locked room next to Reception but remember to hand in your key! Please see below for information about a voluntary donation which will be added to your bill.
• Cinema: The nearest multiplex cinemas are at Broughton Park Shopping Centre, Cheshire Oaks and Wrexham. There is also a cinema at Clwyd Theatr Cymru showing recent release and art house films.
• Coffee Shop: (See Food for Thought below)
• Computer access: Public computers are available in Library Services, in the Annex. These have internet access. Please be aware that as these are in the public domain, it is possible that some restrictions on which websites can be accessed may apply.
• Contact us: If you have any queries or problems during your stay, please do contact us. Ask at Reception, dial 0 from your room, ring 01244 532350 or email.
• Courses and events: We have a wide range of courses and events at Gladstone's Library. For more information please look at our calendar, pick up a programme or see the flyers displayed in the corridor next to Reception. While we try not to disturb residents with the events, from time to time we do use the Gladstone Room or (for our annual literary festival, Gladfest) the Library.
• Dinner: Served each day between 6.45pm and 7.15pm in Food for Thought.
• Disabled access: (See 'accessibility' and 'aid equipment' above)
• Donation: We add a suggested, voluntary, donation of £3 per night to your invoice, which can be Gift-Aided by UK taxpayers. You can increase or decrease the donation as it suits you. If you do not wish to make a donation, please inform Reception in advance or when settling your account and we will amend your bill accordingly.
• Do not disturb: Signs are available from Reception. If a sign is on your door we will not come in to clean / change beds etc.
• Electrical appliances: The European voltage of 240v applies throughout the building. Please do not plug in any appliance of any other lower voltage, or plug any appliances into the specialist adapters, clearly marked with a warning.
• Emergencies: We hope that there won't be any emergencies during your stay, but if you do experience any difficulties, please contact Reception immediately. Dial 0 from your room between 8.45am and 5pm, or 388 at any other time.
• Events (See our 'courses' and 'events' pages)
• Extras: If you would like anything extra in your room eg. wine, chocolates, flowers, just let Reception know and we'll add any charges to your bill.
• Fire alarm: If you hear an alarm, please leave the building by the nearest available exit without hesitation – please do not return to your room or go to collect any personal belongings. Details of what to do in the event of a fire or of the alarm sounding can be found in your bedroom. The muster point is on the lawn opposite the front of the building, adjacent to the Lodge
• First Aid: Many of our staff are first aid trained. Boxes can be found at Reception, in the library and in the kitchen.
• Food for Thought: Our coffee shop, the snappily titled Food for Thought, is open from 10am to 5pm daily and lunch is served between 12noon and 2pm. Our chefs provide an excellent range of home-cooked lunches, delicious coffee and a wide range of teas and cakes / biscuits (scones are highly recommended!) as well as breakfast and dinner for residents. All our food is cooked to fresh and to perfection in-house by our chefs, Al and Steve, and we endeavour to use food that is locally sourced, organic, animal friendly and fairly traded. If you have any dietary requirements, please let the Receptionist or chef know – we will do everything we can to accommodate your needs.
• Friends of Gladstone's Library: On arrival, you will be issued with a Friends leaflet. Please take the time to read this and to consider whether you could support our work by becoming a Friend of Gladstone's Library. Donations from Friends are of vital importance to us as we receive no funding from the government, local authority or church towards our running costs. By becoming a Friend, you will be helping us maintain and secure the future of this wonderful Grade I listed building.
• Gladstone Room: This is a comfortable common room in which you can read the papers or a book, play chess, chat, work, play a board game or enjoy a pre- or post-dinner drink. In winter, the room has the added attraction of a roaring fire. During the day, the Gladstone Room is also open to non-residents and is occasionally used for special events like our micro-festival, Hearth.
• Glynne Room: Our largest meeting / conference room, which is available for hire for up to 36 people.
• Grounds: All residents are welcome to use the grounds – when the weather suits, please do make use of the back lawn and picnic benches!
• Hawarden village: The family home of the Gladstone family. More information about Gladstone and Hawarden can be found in the Library. A brief history is provided at the end of this A – Z. Hawarden has a small yet eclectic range of shops including a Post Office and general store, hairdressers, chemist – and, importantly, two pubs. There are plenty of local (and not too challenging!) walks nearby. We can issue residents with a special permit to walk on the Hawarden estate.
• Honesty Bar: (See 'bar' above)
• Housekeeping: If you need additional towels or bed linen, please contact Reception (dial 0 from your room). Housekeeping staff will tend to your room daily and change beds approximately every fourth day of your stay.
• Internet access: Free Wi Fi is available in all bedrooms and public areas (including the library). No password is needed – just log on to the LibraryNet network with the strongest signal.
• Ironing: Irons and ironing boards are available for use in the Laundry on the first floor. Please ask for the key at Reception.
• Keys: Please keep your room locked when unoccupied – while we do all we can to keep the building as secure as possible, we cannot be held responsible for anything that goes missing. You are welcome to leave your key with Reception when leaving the building during the day. Don't forget to return it when you check out! A £15 charge is levied for keys that are lost or not returned.
• Laundry: The residents' laundry is on the first floor and is equipped with a washing machine (detergent is provided), tumble-dryer, iron and ironing board. This is available for residents' use daily from 9am – 5pm. The key is available from Reception for a small charge.
• Leaving: All guests are welcome to stay after the check-out time of 10am to use the Library, Gladstone Room etc (see also 'check-out' above). We will be happy to book a taxi for you, if needed, when you leave. Just let Reception know.
• Leisure facilities: We do not have facilities onsite, but there are public facilities at Deeside Leisure Centre (gym and ice skating) and Connah's Quay Sports Centre (gym and swimming pool). There are also lovely walks in and around Hawarden – for more information, ask at Reception.
• Library: The library is open for residents daily from 9am until 10pm. If you have not used the library before, please make yourself known to a member of staff at the library Enquiry Desk and s/he will give you the necessary information about the collection and how best to use it.
• Lunch: Served in Food for Thought from 12noon – 2pm seven days a week. Homemade hot and cold meals are available and our Sunday lunches are not to be missed (booking advisable)!
• Maps: If you would like to explore the area we have a few Ordnance Survey maps available at Reception to purchase and some print outs of local routes.
• Medical: Local doctors can be found in Hawarden Health Centre and there is an out of hours emergency clinic at Deeside Hospital (Plough Lane, Aston, Deeside, Flintshire CH5 1XS/01244 830461). Accident and Emergency departments are at Wrexham Maelor Hospital and the Countess of Chester. The Countess of Chester also has an emergency dentist (appointment only). There is a pharmacy in the village, just opposite the entrance to Church Lane – we regret that we cannot sell any pharmaceutical products. The NHS Direct Wales non-emergency number is 0845 4647 and the emergency number is 999.
• Meeting rooms: We have a range of meeting and conference rooms available which are suitable from 2 – 40 people. If you would like to see them or may be interested in hiring one, please let Reception know. Full details can be found on our website.
• Newspapers: Daily and Sunday newspapers are available in Food for Thought and in the Gladstone Room.
• Pets: We regret that, with the exception of guide and hearing dogs, no animals are allowed within the building.
• Post: We can receive post on your behalf, but please do advise Reception if this is likely. Our post is taken at 2pm if you would like to leave anything with us.
• Pubs: There are two pubs in the village (the Glynne Arms and the Fox and Grapes), all within a stone's throw.
• Reception: Staffed from 8.45am until 5pm seven days a week. At other times, the duty member of staff may be contacted on the telephone number posted outside Reception. At night, in an emergency, please dial 388. We also have a range of books for sale at Reception along with greetings card, postcards and bookmarks.
• Record Office: Flintshire Record Office is located in Hawarden. The Record Office is open from 10am – 4.30pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
• Roberts Radio: All our bedrooms are equipped with Roberts Radios. Please do leave it behind when you check-out – a charge of £200 will be made if it disappears.
• Robinson Room: This is one of our smaller meeting rooms, accommodating up to six people comfortably.
• Room service: We are unable to offer room service. If you are expecting to arrive at a time when Food for Thought (see above) is closed, please ask Reception (01244 532350) if you would like sandwiches left for you. Hot meals cannot be prepared outside Food for Thought's opening hours.
• Sea of Faith: This is one of our smaller meeting rooms, accommodating up to six people comfortably.
• Security: On arrival you are given a door code which will give you access through the front and side doors. Please keep the code safe. Do not let anyone into the building but contact a member of staff who will be pleased to come and attend to the matter.
• Shops: There are a number of shops in Hawarden and Ewloe (the neighbouring village). These range from the Post Office and General Store to specialist gift and design shops, and from the Co-op to a floatation and massage therapy centre. There are supermarkets nearby (Tesco at Broughton and Asda in Queensferry), and at Broughton Shopping Park you will find a wide range of high street stores as well as restaurants and a cinema.
• Side door: The side door is at the end of the short passage between the kitchen and the Anwyl Room. It is also a space where you can leave muddy or wet boots, umbrellas and coats (at your own risk).
• Smoking: All of our building (including bedrooms) is non-smoking. Wall-mounted ashtrays are available outside the main entrance and the side door.
• Sunday Lunch: We serve a traditional Sunday Lunch in our Food For Thought restaurant.
• Taxis: If you would like us to book a taxi for you, please let Reception know between 8.45am and 5pm. The local firm that we tend to use is Q Cars (01244 816677).
• Telephone: The telephone in your bedroom will enable you to make national or international calls. Please dial 9 for an outside line. Charges will be added to your bill automatically. To ring Reception, please dial 0. For other rooms, dial 3 before the room number (eg. 301 for room number 1).
• Television: A television is available for residents' use in the Wickham Room on the ground floor.
• Theatre: The nearest (professional) theatre is Clwyd Theatr Cymru in Mold. There are also amateur theatre companies in Chester and an annual summer outdoor programme in Grosvenor Park plus a brand new theatre, Storyhouse. Full details are available in the What's On guide available from the display in the main corridor.
• Toilets: Public toilets are available on the ground floor (Ladies' and Disabled adjacent to the Gladstone Room; Gents' adjacent to the Library).
• Tourist attractions: There are leaflets about some of the local attractions on display in the main corridor. These include Erddig (National Trust), Holywell and Llangollen.
• Tours: We offer a free 'Glimpse' of the Reading Rooms at 12noon, 2pm and 4pm seven days a week. Full details are available from Reception or on the website.
• Trains: Hawarden train station is on the Wrexham – Bidston line which has connections to Liverpool. Information on train times is available here. Hawarden station is on Station Road and is 5 – 7 minutes' walk away from the Library. If you are travelling long distance, you may find it easier to travel to Chester and then get a bus (no 4) or a taxi (we are approximately 8 miles from the railway station). For information on how to plan a national journey click here.
• Visitor survey: With your welcome pack you will receive a short visitor survey form. Feedback from residents is very important to us, so please do complete and return it.
• Walks: Hawarden is at the heart of a number of attractive (and not too challenging!) local walks. Please ask at Reception for information and maps.
• What's On: Full details of the courses and events on at Gladstone's Library on our website. We also publish an annual programme and flyers for individual events, all of which are available at Reception. Information about events and activities in the local area are also on display. This includes copies of What's On in Chester and North Wales which will have details of all theatre, entertainment and sporting events as well as information about visitor attractions.
• Wickham Room: On the ground floor, this is one of our small meeting rooms, accommodating up to six people in an informal setting. It is also the television room for residents.
• Wi Fi (see 'internet access' above): Should you experience any difficulties with Wi-Fi, please let the Receptionist know.
Gladstone's Library was founded in 1894 by William Ewart Gladstone (1809-98) in the Flintshire village of Hawarden, just six miles from Chester. Four times Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer, delivering 13 budgets and in Parliament for over 60 years, Gladstone is often regarded as the greatest statesman that Britain has ever produced. In the final years of his long life, Gladstone put his still-prodigious energy into establishing a library "for the pursuit of divine learning".
The Grade I listed building (which succeeded the original 'tin tabernacle') first opened its doors in 1902 after a public subscription was raised to create Britain's first (and only) Prime Ministerial Library.
Gladstone himself donated 32,000 volumes (legend has it that he wheeled them himself from his home at Hawarden Castle to the Library's site). Today, we have somewhere in the region of 150,000 printed items, and the collection continues to grow. While it still reflects Gladstone's main interests (politics, history, theology and literature), the collection grows constantly and remains contemporary. It includes several distinct collections including Islamic Faith and Culture, the Moorman Franciscan Collection and the John AT Robinson Library and archive. The full library catalogue is online and can be found here.
More information about the origins of the Library can be found at Reception. There are also many biographies about the 'Grand Old Man' in the Library.
The Latin inscription above the front door reads "Adiuvet Deus Misericors". This is translated as "Merciful God, help us".
The wreath was given to Gladstone's family by the Bulgarian nation on the centenary of his birth in 1909. The dedication reads: "To a great William Gladstone from the grateful Bulgarian nation". Through his political intervention, Gladstone saved the Bulgarians from ethnic cleansing by Ottoman Turks, and was consequently considered to be a hero. Initially, the wreath was laid on Gladstone's tomb in Westminster Abbey where it was guarded by 21 police officers overnight.
The monument in front of the Library was commissioned in 1910 by the National Gladstone Memorial Committee for erection in the city of Dublin. In 1923, the Dublin City Council refused to accept it and the bronze figure of Gladstone was placed in the Library grounds in 1925. It is the work of John Hughes. The monument features four allegorical figures: Erin, Classical Learning, Finance and Eloquence (from TW Pritchard's A History of St Deiniol's Library, 1999).
The figure that stands above the main entrance of Gladstone's Library is St. Augustine. Augustine was one the four 'doctors' Gladstone considered major influences on his thinking, alongside Dante, Aristotle, and Joseph Butler.
The statues were designed by George Walker, member of the Royal Academy of Art, who was a major public sculptor at the time (there are some bronzes of his in the Walker Art Gallery, and a big statue of Florence Nightingale on a plinth in central London as well).