84 Plymouth Grove, Manchester

Elizabeth_Gaskell

Elizabeth Gaskell was a renowned author of the Victorian era (1810-65). Some of her noted works include Wives and Daughters, North and South, Cranford and even a biography of her beloved friend Charlotte Bronte titled The Life of Charlotte Bronte.

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Taking a quote from her novel, North and South, I would continue further into my post.  She wrote “Oh, I can’t describe my home. It is home, and I can’t put its charm into words”.  And definitely one cannot describe the charm of her home – a remnant of all the descriptions of a Victorian era home- long after the era itself has gone forever. It is said that those involved in literary and artistic passions live amongst us, they are immortal. In a similar way, Gaskell’s house has made her, her works and those of her contemporaries immortal. Elizabeth Gaskell lived with her husband William Gaskell and four daughters in 84, Plymouth Grove Manchester. Thus, it would be out of question to live in the same city and not visit her house which has now been turned into a museum. The house is open to visitors only on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.  It is run mostly by eager and enthusiastic volunteers and maintained by donations and collections.

The first words with which I was greeted were “You can touch anything, you can sit on original furniture’s and Yes, You can photograph anything and everything.” The house looked just as I had imagined a Victorian Era house would look like. A walkway leads to the main door. On my right was a little library and on my left was another study room. A little further on was the drawing room or commonly called parlour in those days followed by an elegantly decorated dining room. A staircase leads us upstairs where, from time to time different exhibitions are held. Another staircase leads us down to the basement which has a little café and a bookstore. A door from the basement also directs us towards the garden.

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Staircase leading to the second floor

Each of these rooms need an elaborate explanation to actually understand the success of the museum in upholding the look and essence of the Victorian era.

The Library

Complete with floor to roof long racks of books, a fireplace and a study table.  The library window overlooks the beautiful street outside and I could make out where from inspiration crept into the mind of this great literary figure. The walls were adorned by photographs of the family.

The Study

The study had a history of Gaskell which would give a visitor some background about the author and her life. It had some original clothes worn by the author.

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Parlour

The Parlour literally transformed me back to the days of Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, Jane Eyre, Sense and Sensibility and the list can go on. Right on entering the room one finds the traditional piano. The room had a cosy setting with a fireplace in the middle with a beautifully decorated mantelpiece, sofas, long curtains tied around the middle with strings hanging off the windows and a small study desk. The room was fully decorated with antique wall clocks, table clocks, tea sets and pillows. Even smaller details like a quill on the study table were in its proper place.

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Dining

The dining room had a large six- seater dining table.  The table had hand woven table cloth on it, complete with silver cutleries and china dishes. The wine glass was even filled with liquid (I am not really sure it was wine, didn’t taste it). There were cupboards equipped with tea sets, plates, cups, bowls etc. A mandatory fireplace was in position. A huge framed photograph of Elizabeth hung on the wall.

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A little further onto the dining room was a small table overlooking the garden. This table had original manuscripts of the author’s publications and letters. There was also a printed version of the original letters and manuscripts to make it easier for the visitors to understand. I was particularly interested in two  letters- one  written to Charles Dickens by Gaskell and one  written by Dickens to her (I must say Dickens had a better handwriting though).

 

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Charles Dickens 
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Dickens’ letter in print

 

Café

The café had a lovely ambience. The fact that I was drinking tea at a place where literary legends like Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte and Florence Nightingale had set foot was an honour in itself. It is more like a visitor’s library and a bookshop where you can purchase the works of Gaskell and other authors. Alternatively, you can read a book while sipping tea or coffee and relax for sometime.

As we (My parents and I) were about to leave this warmly place, one of the volunteers gave us another surprise. She asked us to ring the doorbell, which was antique and old. It looked nothing like modern day doorbells and sounded a bit different too. After my mother rang it, she smiled and said “ You have now joined Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens and Florence Nightingale, who stood in the exact same spot years ago ringing the same bell .’’

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24 Comments Add yours

  1. What a lovely home 🙂 I love visiting the homes of authors and imagining where they wrote my favourite stories. I’ve never read anything by Elizabeth Gaskell before but this has inspired me to add them to my wishlist 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I majored in history in school so old historical homes definitely interest me!!! This house is just amazing

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ana De Jesus says:

    My favourite Elizabeth Gaskell novel was ‘Ruth’ which incidentally was one of the books I used in my dissertation ‘ The Representation of The Fallen Woman In Nineteenth Century Literature’ and it was a fascinating tale of an innocent young woman led astray. Gaskell was such a champion of women’s rights and her and her husbands religious background as unitarian universalists was an exciting read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the info. I will try to get hold of the book and read it. I have only read Bronte’s biography by her.

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  4. karlapitzen says:

    Usually when you go to a home like this, the rooms are roped off. It’s amazing that they let visitors touch and sit on everything.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My mom LOVES visiting historical buildings like this and can spend hours looking at all the details and hearing the stores from the tour guides.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe you can take your mom along for a visit. She would love it . 🙂

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  6. Kati says:

    I’m slightly obsessed with Victorian times and style, so now I’m a little bit jealous that we don’t have similar place around 🙂 I love the fact that they allow to actually touch everything and take pictures – it’s not so common for the museums!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I originally come from India, and there its not allowed to take pictures inside museums; but in manchester I have seen that you can take pics (without flash) and even touch objects in art galleries and museums.

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  7. mutange12 says:

    A very engaaging article. Am a fan of Charles Dickens and Jane Austen and loved going through this article. http://giiybu.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Kage says:

    Since my aim is to become a future Author I hope my house will become a museum one day… Wait, no, that is a bad idea my house is a mess, anyway great post such a beautiful building.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I don’t know why but this article made me so emotional especially with the doorbell ring. When you visit places like that you can feel the history in your whole body. When I visit Manchester again I would love to drink my afternoon tea there reading a book. Thank’s for sharing!

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    1. Yes you should try the cafe. From what I could make out it was the original kitchen and servant’s quarters (the ones which are located in the basement in the Victorian times). Though the interiors have been re-done to accomodate the cafe, somehow it still holds the rustic feel of an era gone by. So, that is something worth feeling and experiencing. 🙂

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  10. Nya says:

    Very interesting article, well written and you described it all amazingly well! I love the pictures. Places like this always fascinate me

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Bee Smetana says:

    This house looks so English…lol
    Didn’t know anything about her but at least now I do. Thanks to you 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  12. maryamkabir says:

    It’s amazing ! I love the fact that they left everything the way it actually was 🙂 It’s a way for us to relive history and find our own way to connect with such amazing souls

    Liked by 1 person

  13. What a freedom visiting historical place like this and you can picture every corner with your camera. Your post and the photos bring me into the feeling of the Victorian era. Ringing the bell is a pleasent surprise, knowing that those famous figures did ring the same beals and the exact spot.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Wow! You have described everything so beautifully. Awesome vintage pics too – will try to visit this during my visit to Manchester !

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    1. Sure. You should visit it once.

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  15. Franco says:

    That’s a lovely house, although it’s kinda creepy.And I also love that they have a library!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. This place looks interesting. Never heard of her before!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Fabulous article! I love old buildings and getting a feel of how they lived years ago. Love the carpet on the staircase, it looks very grand. Beautiful pictures, you have captured it well 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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