Books, glorious books! Whether you’re looking for the latest page-turner or simply love the company of literature, these five beautiful libraries across the network make for the perfect afternoon escape, and better yet, they’re all easily reached by GWR train.
The world-famous Bodleian Libraries in Oxford are a combination of 28 libraries that serve the university and collectively house 13 million printed items. Bookworms should head to the Bodleian Library’s oldest reading room, The Duke Humfrey’s Library, which is quite simply breath-taking. Ancient texts and antique books line the creaking oak shelves, offering visitors an unforgettable glimpse at what is undoubtedly a medieval literary institution. Daily tours are available.
The London Library is every bit as swanky, elegant and exclusive as you might imagine, given that you need a membership to gain entry. We’re not talking bog standard library cards, either – access to The London Library will set individual’s back £510 a year. However, there are regular, free public tours during weekday evenings – reservation is essential. With over a million books, a grand setting and an extraordinary history to boot, The London Library is a must-visit next time you’re in the Big Smoke.
Built in 1906, Bristol Central Library is a historic building that boasts stunning architecture, a restful atmosphere and books, books and more books. Inside you’ll discover a beautiful vaulted glass ceiling, open paneled walls displaying rows of bookcases and shelves on each floor, and a fantastic desk space for studious visitors.
Anyone who thinks libraries are stuffy places to hang out should visit Cardiff Central Library, which is quite frankly as hip as they come. As well as boasting a modern and trendy exterior – a work of art in itself – the building is also totally energy efficient and as much a ‘green’ space as a literary one. With open plan design and breath-taking views of the city, this library is a perfect place to sit back and relax in… with a good book of course.
You won’t find the latest crime thrillers on the shelves of this wonderful literary space. The National Art Library holds the UK’s most comprehensive public reference collection of literature on the fine and decorative arts. The library area itself is located in a magnificent reading room that wouldn’t go amiss in a period drama. It’s free to visit and is open from 10am, Tuesday to Saturday throughout the week.