Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, Manchester

Elizabeth Gaskell’s House was bought to my attention by one of my course lecturers (Helen Rees Leahy), she was one of the curators on the project and talked very passionately about her involvement and all of the work that had gone into restoring the building to it’s former glory.

Formally owned by 19th century writer, Elizabeth Gaskell and her husband William, the house was only reopened to the public at the end of last year after being restored to its former period beauty. The rooms have been painstakingly designed and decorated to match the few photographs and descriptions to hand, using original furniture where possible and providing accurate replicas where not. I was impressed that everything down to the same type of horsehair seating has been used on the chairs to give the house the most authentic feel possible.

Some of the objects and furniture on display did originally belong to the Gaskell’s and give an air of authenticity and a personal touch to the restoration. I found the staff to be extremely knowledgeable and eager to share their information with the visitors in each room. Mostly, I found it fascinating that you were invited to touch, sit and fully experience all of the displays, something that I have never come across before. With it being so ingrained in my head that most things in museums aren’t for touching, it was hard to get my head around that I could sit on the chairs and take books off of the shelves but I found this to be a brilliant touch to this unique little house.

I was disappointed that, at the moment, there are only 4 rooms to explore and because of this considered the entrance fee maybe a little too high. There are plans to resume the restoration of the bedrooms upstairs and I think that when that does happen the entrance fee will be perfectly adequate, especially because it lasts for a full 12 months. There is also a lovely little tea room situated in the original kitchen of the house that does nice coffee and cake that is well worth a visit after you have explored the rooms. 

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