16 February 2012

Hawarden, Flintshire

William Ewart Gladstone, four-time Prime Minister, was a voracious reader, and collected books from his childhood. Whilst at Christ Church, Oxford, from which he took a double first in Classics and Mathematics, and another first in History, his collection grew apace.

Gladstone’s collection ultimately consisted of 32,000 volumes, of which the Grand Old Man read an incredible 22,000, a book a day, every day, for 60 years. In 1889 a pair of corrugated iron rooms, known as the Tin Tabernacle, was erected to house the library for public use – there is a famous photograph of Gladstone moving books from Hawarden Castle the half mile to their new home, using a wheelbarrow.

When Gladstone died in 1898 a public subscription funded the building in which the residential library is now housed, designed by John Douglas, and opened in 1902. The collection has grown to over 250,000 books, largely theology, history, philosophy, classics and literature.

The library, in front of which is the Gladstone Monument, intended for Dublin but refused by that city’s council, centres the village of Hawarden. For the bad is the House of Correction of the mid-eighteenth century (third photograph); for the good, Hawarden Park, entered via heavy wooden gates.


abijsmith said...

Do you think he'd have been interested in a Kindle...?

YMGW said...

No! Never was a piece of technology so suitably named: Kindles are book-burning by other means.

Frank's Trailer Works said...

Nice place, but I like the cold war era bunkers and the mines best. Obsolete industry excites me for some reason.