We Love Gladstone’s Library (Part Two)

I have been back at St. Deiniol’s all week.  I’ve been tired.  On Sunday morning a very nice woman I was sitting with at breakfast suggested I perhaps needed “some nourishment” and as Sunday was gorgeous weather I thus headed off further into Wales to find a point on my road atlas where the A road intersected with Offa’s Dyke Path.  I first got waylaid by Ruthin Craft Centre (lovely shop full of beautifully crafted things) and eventually found the path onto the Clwydian Hills.  It was just what I needed and the views were stunning.

Back in the Library, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and I have been making slow progress.  Today I ditched my Netbook completely and took to writing longhand.  I haven’t done that for years … and I actually wrote lots.  There’s some kind of moral/lesson in there to someone who is writing a blog on e-learning.  I do frequently find myself knowing that just because the technology exists, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the job is going to get done any more effectively/quicker.  Having said that, I’ve also bought myself a nifty digital camera and this evening I’ve been trying out a few photos.

Sophia and slate benches

Sophia and slate benches

To the right is a modern statue of Sophia (wisdom) set amidst four beautiful slate stone benches.  This is the view out the back of Gladstone’s Library complex.  For my tastes the statue is too representational in a way that doesn’t quite work in the twenty-first century and the benches, with their rough hewn edges and carved words in English and Welsh at either end – Love, Truth, Justice and Peace - somehow work much better.  Having said that I’m quite glad Sophia is there, emerging from the Tree of Knowledge as she is and looking towards the Library, although why she needs to be semi naked to do this is a little bit beyond me…


At any given time there will be an interesting range of people here at the Library.  Due to its history as a theological training college it is a popular stopping/resting point for clergy, and people seem to travel from far afield to be here. Every week I’ve been staying there has been at least one person from the USA.  I’ve met a few academics, various retired people looking for a bit of space to work on writing projects, and generally a pleasant and interesting variety of folk.

It’s the kind of place that is just somehow … conducive.  Conducive to what depends on why you are here.  Watching over it all is a statue of William Gladstone himself (apparently intended for Dublin, but by the time the statue was finished the political situation meant it was no longer welcome).  Probably the largest collection in the world of Gladstone-related images and memorabilia adorn the public ground floor corridors, and of course Gladstone’s own collection of books is dispersed amongst twentieth- and twenty-first-century additions, sometimes containing his annotations.