Hawarden Castle

Gladstone's Hawarden Castle

Gladstone's Hawarden Castle, 1866

Hawarden Castle--The Library Front

Hawarden Castle--The Library Front, 1884, photograph by J. P. Mayall

Although not an artist’s studio in the conventional sense, Gladstone’s study, nicknamed the “Temple of Peace,” in his residence at Hawarden Castle, Wales, served as the setting for J. P. Mayall’s portrait of the prime minister for Artists at Home. Built in the mid-eighteenth century on land shared by ruins of the medieval Hawarden Castle, the new Hawarden Castle was home to W. E. Gladstone after his marriage to Catherine Glynne (1812–1900), whose family owned the estate. Originally built of brick and stone dressings, the residence was greatly renovated by architect George Shaw of Saddleworth (1810–1876), who converted the castle into the crenellated Gothic Revival style around 1810. Hawarden Castle was extended around 1830 and further altered at Gladstones request by architects John Douglas (1830–1911) and Daniel Porter Fordham (1846–1899) in the mid to late nineteenth century. The castle continues to stand today, and the residence, owned by a descendent of W. E. Gladstone, operates as a private home with outside grounds open to visitors. 

The Temple of Peace,” which Gladstone named after Vespasian’s Templum Pacis, was dark, with an abundance of wood furnishings. The grand bookcase in the center of Gladstone’s study contained several editions of Dante; other shelves held the works of ancient philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato, Herodotus, and Thucydides, plus other works written in Greek, Latin, Italian, French, and German.[1] A voracious reader—as suggested by his reading a volume in Greek of the Odes of Pindar as he sat for his Artists at Home portrait—Gladstone read about 20,000 books in his lifetime, as documented in his diary. Gladstone’s love of books led to his creation of the “Tin Tabernacle,” a public space built for the study of theology and the reading of an abundance of Gladstone’s books. Gladstone’s Library, formerly known as St. Deiniol’s, remains today “Britain’s only residential library,” a testament to Gladstone’s passion for reading and his desire to make great books accessible to others.[2

Vanessa Pike

 

[1] J.P. Mayall, “The Whole-Hearted Homage of a Hero Worshipper,” The Grand Old Man, The Pall Mall Gazette “Extra,” No. 44 (November 5, 1888): p. 27.  

[2Christopher Howse, "William Gladstone: A Prime Minister Who Read Books," The Telegraph (London), October 7, 2009. Accessed November 5, 2016.