Thatcher memorial UK's second prime ministerial library

One week after her death, plans are afoot for a Margaret Thatcher memorial library, museum and educational centre as a permanent memorial to the former prime minister.

Welsh Secretary David Jones told The Sunday Telegraph: "Margaret Thatcher was Britain's greatest post-war leader. I can think of no better tribute to her than the establishment of the Margaret Thatcher Library."

The idea is based on similar institutions in the name of former US presidents. It sounds novel for the UK, although the Gladstone Library in north Wales has been in touch to point out that the Thatcher library won't be the first prime ministerial library in the UK.

The Gladstone Library at Hawarden was created as a national memorial to the former Liberal prime minister after his death in 1898. Its warden, Peter Francis, said: "Public mourning for Gladstone was of epic proportions and non-divisive. Ten years after his death, Gladstone's statue in The Strand was covered with a carpet of flowers."

Unlike Margaret Thatcher, Gladstone did have a state funeral before being buried in Westminster Abbey. Mr Francis said the library houses many of his personal papers and his personal collection of 32,000 books

"In his later years, Gladstone began to think about making his personal library accessible to others. "Often pondering," wrote his daughter, Mary Drew, "how to bring together readers who had no books and books who had no readers, gradually the thought evolved itself in his mind into a plan for the permanent disposal of his library. A country home for the purposes of study and research, for the pursuit of divine learning, a centre of religious life."

A public appeal for funds was launched after Gladstone's death in 1898 to provide a permanent building to house the collection. Designed by John Douglas, it was officially opened by Earl Spencer in 1902 as the National Memorial to W. E. Gladstone. The Gladstone family funded the residential wing.

Mr Francis added: "The library has continued to acquire books specialising in those subjects that were of most interest to Gladstone. There are now over 200,000 volumes of theology and history as well as excellent material on philosophy, classics, art and literature.

"Today, Gladstone's library offers its guests the possibility of individual reflection, as well as social interaction. With an evolving programme of courses and events, the priority is to build and nurture a wide network of writers and thinkers in order to maintain Gladstone's legacy of engagement with social, moral and spiritual questions, helping people reflect more deeply on issues and ideas that concern them."