Gladstone's Library, Hawarden

By Rhian Waller - Gladstone's Library PR and marketing

Keen-eyed readers may have noticed the last two column entries were about the sights and sounds of Gladstone's Library. The 'smells' of Gladstone's Library might sound much less appealing, but bear with us as we invite you to follow your nose.

This time of year, the air around the Library grounds is often infused with the mellow scent of cut grass. The blend of rain and occasional spring sunshine has coaxed the lawn to speedy growth, and the mower has shaped the blades into neat rows.

If you hurry beneath the trees, you might catch the sweetness of the last few falling cherry blossoms.

Once you walk inside the Library, depending on the time of day, you'll be greeted by different cooking smells. At breakfast (available to residents), toast and hot coffee waft down the corridor, at lunchtime, when diners come into the restaurant from the Reading Rooms, conference rooms and from outside the Library, savoury scents spread from the hobs and ovens.

As we pass, my colleagues and I are often tempted by the mouthwatering fragrance of baking scones and biscuits.

When the housekeepers are on shift upstairs and in the corridors, you might catch the faint spritz of cleaning products and the tang of polish as they dust off the woodwork in the corridors and on the stairwells. The bedrooms, aired after checkout for new guests, smell of clean linen and freshly scrubbed sinks.

The one scent everybody notices, though, is the scent of old books. It surrounds you as you enter the Reading Rooms, and the fragrance is at its heaviest in the History Room, where the books are 120 years old or more. It's difficult to describe: there's a faint, dry, papery note and slightly earthy and tarry component - this is the blend of volatiles - ink and wood pulp giving off tiny chemical signatures as they age.

You can sometimes see Readers and residents pause to breathe it all in.