My Time at Gladstone’s Library
I spent a wonderful week at Gladstone’s Library in Hawarden in North Wales last week. I was lucky enough to be given a week’s scholarship, so all I had to do was write, think and enjoy these beautiful and tranquil surroundings.
Gladstone’s comprises a residential library and meeting place which is dedicated to dialogue, debate and learning for open-minded individuals and groups, who are looking to explore pressing questions and to pursue study and research in an age of distraction and easy solutions.
This institution pays tribute to William Gladstone. It is Britain’s finest residential library, and its only Prime Ministerial library. It was founded by the great Victorian statesman himself and, following his death in 1898, became the national memorial to his life and work as well as one of the few Grade 1 listed buildings in North Wales.
I went to Gladstone’s not knowing quite what to expect but the experience was more than I could have hoped for. Somehow, released from everyday life – no domestic stuff, no television, no whirlwind of emails to answer, Facebook to check, classes to teach, the day opened up to provide hours of time when the hands on the clock normally whizz round.
I finished a short story – had only a couple of paragraphs before I went – and worked on revisions for my novel. I had the editor’s report back, and there’s a lot to work on! I’d gone with the intention of planning my next novel, but the current one was filling my head too much, so I decided to concentrate on that.
Although the library is awe-inspiring, I found I preferred working in my room.
It was at the back of the library with a lovely view of the garden. It also looked out at the sculpture of Sophia, goddess of wisdom, and I spent a lot of time gazing at her, hoping to acquire some!
Although I was very happy with my room, perhaps my favourite spot was the Gladstone Room, a wonderful sitting room with a huge fireplace at each end, oak panelled walls, an immense bay window, brown leather sofas and a great collection of 21st century fiction.
Again, the photo doesn’t do the room justice fully – this is only about a third of the room.
I hope I can go back to Gladstone’s. It’s a unique and special place, and I feel privileged to have spent a week there.Tags: Gladstone's Library