Gladstone's Library, Hawarden

By Rhian Waller - Gladstone's Library PR and marketing

Hello to our readers! Many of you will be very familiar with the Gladstone's Library building, but we wanted to take a moment to celebrate the artistry of architect John Douglas and the many who have contributed to the development and upkeep of this Grade I listed neo-Gothic Victorian construction.

Over the next few weeks, we will highlight some of the features guests often ask us about.

The Library is owned and operated by a self-supporting charity (Gladstone's Library, registered charity no 701399), as are the grounds on which it sits. This tradition of public support goes back to the inception of the current building, with the first wing funded by public subscription collected following the death of William Ewart Gladstone.

It is constructed of red sandstone (a familiar material in nearby Chester as there were sandstone quarries in Cheshire), complete with slate roof. This distinctive green slate was probably quarried in Westmoreland (much Welsh slate is purpleish in colour, in contrast).


Monda and porch at Gladstones Library.

Monad and porch at Gladstone's Library.


The style is Victorian neo-Gothic, and it is quite dramatic!

The first, temporary, version of the Library (named St Deiniol's until 2010) opened in the late 1800s. It was nicknamed the 'Tin Tabernacle', as it closely resembled a prefabricated tin church. A picture of the Tabernacle hangs in the Gladstone Room today.

The Reading Rooms were the first wing of the stone structure to be built. They opened in 1902.

If you stand with the Reading Rooms on your right and the Annex in front, you will find the original entrance porch on the right. The motto carved above the door (which is no longer in general use) reads: Dominus illuminatio mea (The Lord is my Light).

There is another carved motto Adiuvet Deus Misericors (Merciful God, help us) above our main porch. If you have visited us, you'll know our Reception office lies just beyond the entrance.

If you look closely at the symbol above the porch lettering, you might recognise the swirling pattern. This design has come to be known as the Monad and has been adopted as the Library logo. You might spot it on our website, leaflets and even on the floor mat near our restaurant!

Next week, you are invited to meet the first faces you’ll see on arrival – the many statues on the grounds…