A- Z Guide

Coming to stay with us at Gladstone's Library? Here's a handbook full of tips!

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).


• 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. Travel to these airports can be arranged for you by Reception.

• American guests: The US Friends of Gladstone's Library is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organisation. Please speak to the Library's Development Manager, Annette Lewis, if you would like to know more about its 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. This room also houses books from the Reading Rooms - if you require access to these please speak to a member of staff in the library. Click here for more info.

• Art: We would like to introduce you to four artworks which can be found in and around the Library:

Sophia: Carved by sculptor 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 and prints may be purchased at Reception.

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, Theatre Clwyd, Chester Grosvenor Museum, and at main libraries in Denbigh, Wrexham and Llangollen.

• Archives: We have extensive archives here at Gladstone’s library. Our largest is the Glynne-Gladstone archive, but we also hold the A. M. Allchin, Anthony Freeman, Bishop Ceramics, British Crime Writing Archive, Cowley Manuscripts, Don Cupitt (Sea of Faith), Eric James, Esther de Waal, Jim Cotter, John Robinson, Robert Jeffrey and, Bishop Moorman Franciscan Collection. To view any items from these collections you must be a Reader or a resident of the library and complete a request to read form 14 days in advance. Archives are available 9.30am – 4.30pm on weekdays. Access may also be limited between 12 noon and 2pm, depending on staff availability.

• Accessibility: All of the ground floor is wheelchair-accessible. This includes two bedrooms (one twin, one double) that are wheelchair-friendly. As a Grade I-listed building, unfortunately we do not have a lift. It is possible to book a desk on the ground floor of the library, just mention this at the time of booking and the library staff will arrange this. If you require any books from the Reading Rooms galleries, please ask a member of staff on the Enquiry Desk who will be happy to help.


• Bank: The nearest ATMs are available at the Co-op near the Crown and Liver pub in Hawarden, Tesco at Broughton or Asda at Queensferry. The Post Office in Hawarden village will also issue cash over the counter.

• Bar: Drinks service is available 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: All our 26 bedrooms have private bathrooms and 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. Click here for more info.

• Beaches: If you are lucky enough to be with us in the summer then, for walking, Heswall and Thurstaston are around 20 minutes away, while Caldy and West Kirby are around 30 minutes from Hawarden and offer opportunities for a swim, too. Rhyl, Talacre and Prestatyn are within easy driving distance and also have some fabulous beaches. If you fancy venturing further then Llandudno’s beach is beautiful in the right weather and under a two hour drive away.

• 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:  Breakfast is served 8am – 9.30am and is included in your stay. Additional options are available for a small supplement. An abundance of free tea and coffee is also available. 

• 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 by Ian Hazeldine

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 HeartChester Cathedral is six miles away in Chester city centre. Click here to read about the Gladstone's Library Chapel.

• 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 storage room 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 CentreCheshire Oaks and Wrexham. There are also cinemas at Theatr Clwyd and Storyhouse showing recent release and art house films. 

• Contact us: If you have any queries or problems during your stay, please do contact us. Ask at Reception, ring 01244 532350 or email us. 

• 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 Reading Rooms.

 Closed access collections: Our closed access collections include manuscripts printed before the 19th Century and our archives. See Archives for more information and how to view these collections.


Digital Gladstone: Digital Gladstone is an umbrella term under which we can gather all the Library’s efforts to improve access to our online collections. The first major project of Digital Gladstone is externally funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The project began in January 2018 and will result in a fully-catalogued digital collection of 15,000 nineteenth-century manuscript letters and 5,390 annotated printed books. These will be partially transcribed and hosted online in a free-to-access CMS, making one of the world’s most significant Gladstonian collections available to all. The project builds on the work undertaken to create GladCat – part of our successful online catalogue – and ensure that the online presence of Gladstone’s Library is as unique and distinctive as the physical institution. 

• Dinner: Served each day between 6.30pm and 8.00pm in Food for Thought. We always have a vegetarian option and can cater to special dietary needs if given advanced warning. Dinner is open to both residents and non-residents.

• Disabled access: See Accessibility and Aid equipment above.

• Donation: As we are primarily a charity, 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. Any donation goes towards the upkeep of our grade one listed features, and the day to day operations of Gladstone’s Library. 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 in your bedroom. 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 our 24hr Reception immediately on 01244 532350

• Events: We always have events going on here - peruse the site to see what’s on over the next few months.

• 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 and in the kitchen.

• 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.

• Food for Thought: Our restaurant, Food for Thought, is open 10am to 8.30pm daily. Our chefs provide an excellent range of home-cooked meals, delicious coffee and a wide range of teas and cakes / biscuits (the scones are highly recommended!). All our food is cooked fresh in-house by our chefs, and we endeavour to use food that is locally sourced 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.


Gladstone Room

• 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.

• Gladstone (W. E.): William Ewart Gladstone was the founder of Gladstone’s Library, he was the pre-eminent politician of the 19th Century and was Prime Minister four times. His personal books make up the Gladstone Foundation Collection.

 Glynne Room: Our largest meeting / conference room, which is available for hire for up to 36 people. Can be set out in boardroom or lecture fashion. Includes a wide screen smart TV. 

• 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

• 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.

• Hawarden Castle: Hawarden Castle is privately owned so unfortunately there are no opportunities to view the inside of the castle. Hawarden Old Castle is now a ruin and is only opened for approximately two days a year due to health and safety concerns. If you’re lucky enough to be with us when it’s open we recommend a visit! We can give permits to residents for the estate grounds.

• Housekeeping: If you need additional towels or bed linen, please contact Reception. 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). Just log on to the Gladstone Guest network and use the password 'Gladstone'.

• Ironing: Irons and ironing boards are available for use in the Laundry on the first floor. Please ask for the key at Reception.


• Joining the library: It is free to join the library as a Reader, which gives you access Monday – Sunday 9am – 10pm, just bring in two forms of ID (one photographic and one proof of address) to the library staff who will give you a form to fill out.


• 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). Please ask at Reception if you require a taxi.

• Leisure facilities: We do not have facilities onsite, but there are public facilities at Deeside Leisure Centre (gym and ice skating) and Buckley Leisure Centre (gym and swimming pool). If you are staying with us you are also entitled to a special rate of £5 per day at Village St. Davids There are also lovely walks in and around Hawarden – for more information, ask at Reception. 

• Lunch: Served in Food for Thought 12 noon – 2pm seven days a week. Homemade hot and cold meals are available and our Sunday lunches are not to be missed (booking required)! 


• Maps: If you would like to explore the area we have Ordnance Survey maps available at Reception 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 for groups of 2 to 36 people. If you would like to see them or are interested in hiring one, please let Reception know.


• Nibbles: Tea and cake are available in Food for Thought.


The Glynne

• 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. Both serve food if you fancy a change of scenery.


• Reception: Staffed from 8am - 8pm seven days a week. At other times, the Night Porter can be contacted on the telephone number posted outside Reception. 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.
• Readers: It is free to sign up as a Reader, and you have access to the Library 9am – 10pm 7 days per week. 


• Sea of Faith: This is one of our smaller meeting rooms, accommodating up to six people comfortably. **Currently this room is being used for our Digital Gladstone project and cannot be booked.** If you would like to borrow books from this room, please ask in advance at the Enquiry Desk.

• 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 number of hair and beauty salons. 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.

• Snowdonia: We are on the doorstep of Snowdonia national park, about an hour drive or train ride will take you into the heart of the North Wales. For more information about attractions in Snowdonia and how to get there speak to Reception.

• Sunday Lunch: We serve a traditional Sunday Lunch in our Food for Thought restaurant 12pm - 2pm. This includes a vegetarian option and other special dietary requirements can be catered to with advanced warning. If you are a non-resident we recommend booking this in advance as it can get busy. 


Clwyd Theatre Cymru

• Taxis: If you would to book a taxi, please let Reception know between 8.45am and 9pm. The local firm that we tend to use is Q Cars (01244 816677).

• Television: A television is available for residents' use in the Robinson Room on the 1st floor.

• Theatre: The nearest (professional) theatre is Theatr Clwyd 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: Unisex public toilets are available on the ground floor adjacent to the Reading Rooms and then past the Restaurant.  There is a disabled toilet adjacent to the Gladstone Room.

Erdigg National Trust

• 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. The Library is an attraction on the North East Circular route of The Wales Way.

• Tours: The Reading Rooms are currently only accessible to residents and registered Readers. However, we do sometimes organise tours. These will be announced on the Events page of our website and on social media. 

• 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.


Hawarden Castle

• 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.

• Wi Fi (see 'internet access' above): See Internet above. Should you experience any difficulties with Wi Fi, please let the Receptionist know.


• Zoo: Chester Zoo is only a half an hour drive away and a great family day out!

History of Gladstone's Library

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.

Other questions

What is the translation of the Latin quoted above the front door?

Latin Inscription

 The Latin inscription above the front door reads 'Adiuvet Deus Misericors'. This is translated as 'Merciful God, help us'.

Is there a story to the wreath (found on the balcony of the library)?

Bulgarian Wreath

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.

Where is the monument on the front lawn from?

Statue at Gladstone's Library

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).

Who are the figures around the outside of the Library building?

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).


If you are staying with us and looking for days out to fill your time, download our handy guides below for inspiration.

Local Walks:

  • Hawarden Characters and Customs tour: Use your mobile phone to take a tour around the centre of Hawarden to discover fascinating places and stories. You’ll discover where Emma Hamilton, later Lord Nelson’s mistress and mother of his child, grew up, and the former home of a Lord Mayor of London who transformed European attitudes to British art in the 18th Century. You’ll also see the shambles, where butchers traded, and the place where the Archbishop of Canterbury died in 1896.
  • Bilberry Wood Walk 2012: This is a largely wooded walk which skirts the Castle parkland and private Hawarden Estate, crossing a stream near the ruined corn mill. Following the long straight track to Cherry Orchard Farm, the path returns via a quiet roadway, rising above the by-pass to give good views of surrounding countryside. The final stage, curving round past the estate woodland and rejoining Tinkersdale along its bend, completes its course at the car park.
  • Tinkersdale/Oaks Farm/Higher House Circular Walk: This is a circular walk over varied and undulating farmland. Open views are to be had especially on the returning stretch.
  • Mancot and Moor Circular walk: This walk traverses the fields of Mancot and Moor by old rights of way, green lanes and the quieter roads in two interlinking loops. Most of the terrain is level, however the ground may be muddy and so appropriate footwear is required.
  • Ewloe/Ewloe Green Circular Walk: This walk which takes approximately one hour, crosses fields to Ewloe Green and returns to pass close to Wepre Wood and Castle (an additional detour is indicated). The route drops down over fields and tracks towards Shotton, returning to Ewloe via a metalled lane.