So, you’re visiting Gladstone's Library for the first time, fantastic! What’s the plan?
11am: We recommend arriving around 11am. Our on-site café and bistro Food for Thought is open to the public (10am - 5pm), and a nice hot cup of coffee is the perfect start to your day.
12pm: At 12pm you can check out our historic Reading Rooms on a Glimpse. As the library itself is still a silent working space, access is reserved for members and residents only and so a Glimpse is the only way that a visiting member of the public can get a look inside! Glimpses are run at 12pm, 2pm and 4pm seven days a week and are completely free of charge. On a Glimpse a member of staff will give you a brief history of the Library and its founder William Ewart Gladstone, plus a sneaky peak inside the History Room where Gladstone’s own books are kept. Meet outside Reception, and remember, shhhhh…
The Glimpse should take around 10 – 15 minutes with time for questions at the end. And then guess what? There’s even more to see outside! Just next door, for example, is St. Deiniol’s Church. At least 1,000 years old, the church is open to the public and has stunning stained-glass windows, the last cycle ever designed by Edward Burne-Jones, a family friend of the Gladstones. There is also the impressive model of the church, created by two dedicated volunteers (which provoked a Twitter-storm last year) and the stone effigies of William Gladstone and his wife, Catherine.
1pm: Lunch is available 12pm – 2pm at Gladstone’s Library. The menu changes every day but there’s always a variety of tasty options whether you’re a meat eater, fish fan, vegan or vegetarian. And there are always a few tasty treats for afters too! All meals are freshly prepared using tasty local produce, and if you have and specific dietary requirements, just let us know in advance.
2pm: Once you’re filled up and refreshed, how about a nice stroll? Gladstone’s Library is surrounded by beautiful fields and pathways if you feel like a wander, and in the village there’s The Glynne Arms and The Fox & Grapes pubs if you don’t! Ask at Reception - we can equip you with some walking guides!
3pm: When you return it’s definitely time for a nice sit down by the fire in our cosy Gladstone Room common room. Pick a book off the shelf to curl up with, read the daily newspapers, or how about trying one of our many board games? There’s even an honesty bar for you to warm your cockles with a soft drink or something stronger.
3.30pm: Between 3pm and 4pm Monday - Friday Afternoon Tea is served. With fresh sandwiches, cakes and scones made just for you, as well as a big pot of tea of course, it’s a lovely way to spend the afternoon with friends or family. Fancy something special like a little Prosecco or a birthday cake? Just let us know! Afternoon Tea must be booked in advance by calling 01244 532350 and a £5 per person deposit is required at the time of booking.
5pm: The Library building closes to the visiting public at 5pm, so if you’ve not booked to stay the night with us, now is the time to leave.
We also host an annual programme of events, courses and festivals. To find out more about what’s going on at Gladstone’s Library, click here. Upcoming events for March and April include talks on the history of our beautiful Reading Rooms and the historical novel, plus a residential course on art and faith.
And if you’re wondering where to go from here, there are a number of fantastic attractions accessible by car and public transport including the Roman city of Chester (and its famous Zoo), Conwy Castle, and if you’re feeling like a real adventure you can brave Snowdonia, as one of our intrepid Writers in Residence did in 2016.
Remember: Gladstone’s Library is open on Bank Holidays but closed for two weeks at Christmas. Remember to double check our openings before you leave the house!
We look forward to welcoming you to the Library soon!
By Alex Locke, Intern