Monday, 7 September 2015
It's always a joy to return to Gladstone's Library, especially if it's a trip that involves an overnight stay in Britain's gem of a residential library.And this past week-end I was there for Gladfest, a festival now in its third year, and going from strength to strength. Two years ago, I put on a Victorian murder mystery event. This year, it was time for a 1920s murder mystery - very appropriate in the year of The Golden Age of Murder!
The mystery was performed with gusto by a young and splendid cast of actors,and as usual with anything organised by Gladstone's Library, the whole event went swimmingly. My thanks to Susan Miller, who took the photo of the "scene of the crime" as members of the audience were arrviing. Even though,because of the festival, the place was packed, it retains its essential peacefulness,and the rooms for those staying overnight are wonderfully quiet. If you are ever in the vicinity of Chester and North Wales, I can't recommend it highly enough.
Gladstone's Library has been around a long time - since the days of William.Ewart Gladstone himself, whose wonderful idea it was. The Gladstone family retains a keen interest in the place, and I had the pleasure of meeting them a couple of years back at the Sherlock Holmes Society's annual conference dinner. But there's also a determination to adapt with the times, and events such as Gladfest are helping the Library to extend its reach. This is sensible, because there are ambitious plans afoot to build additional facilities, which will further enhance the appeal of the Library, whilst maintaining its essential character.
Among many other things, the Library helps to develop the skills of young interns with a keen interest in librarianship, and also supports writers in residence - an announcement was made about the next group of writers who will be fortunate enough to spend time there under a very well thought-out scheme. All in all, the Library offers a model for any charity that seeks to combine a strong interest in cultural heritage (and much else) while playing an active and positive part in a wide range of valuable activities. The past is very important to Gladstone's Library, but it is also responding very effectively to the challenges that face any charity in the twenty-first century.