Ardwick Heritage Trail

Gaskell House


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elizabeth gaskell house manchesterIntroduction
The writer Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-65) lived in this Manchester house from 1850, and it is here that all but the first of her books were written. 84 Plymouth Grove is a detached Regency-style villa, which originally stood in the leafy outskirts of Manchester, ‘quite outside the smoke’. Elizabeth and William Gaskell and their four daughters loved its generous atmosphere, its spacious rooms and its walled garden. Many guests enjoyed their hospitality, including Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens, John Ruskin and Harriet Beecher Stowe, When Elizabeth died William and their two unmarried daughters lived on in the house until the death of last survivor, Meta Gaskell, in 1913.

Elizabeth Gaskell’s books
Cranford, is the most popular of her books and has never been out of print, and was televised in 2007. Mary Barton, is a tale of Manchester in the hungry forties, her Life of Charlotte Brontë is the first biography of modern times, Ruth deals with illegitimacy, North and South about the old and new values in an industrial age, Cousin Phillis set in the Cheshire countryside and her last work, Wives and Daughters, which was successfully televised in 1999. She also wrote many vivid letters. Her books are all available today, in many different editions.

84 Plymouth Grove today
Work started on the restoration of the exterior in spring 2009. The house is on the Buildings at Risk Register because of its sad condition. It was saved from demolition in the 1960s by being listed as Grade II*, and in 2004 was acquired by the Manchester Historic Buildings Trust for restoration. It is a building of literary significance rivalling the Brontë Parsonage at Haworth; and as one of the very few surviving nineteenth century women writers homes it is of local, national and international importance.

gaskell house guided tour

The cost of restoration is over two million pounds, of which approximately one quarter has already been raised.

For further information about the programme please click here

Born in Rochdale in 1804, Sir James P. Kay-Shuttleworth studied in Edinburgh and became a doctor in 1827, having worked among the poor in Edinburgh and then, on qualifying, as a medical officer at the Ancoats and Ardwick Dispensary in Manchester (of which he was one of the founders), he became increasingly aware of appalling living conditions of the poor He worked tirelessly to help them, especially during the cholera epidemic of 1832 He wrote extensively on these unsanitary conditions and on what he believed should be done to eradicate them, serving on committees in order to bring about change In 1835 he became an assistant Poor Law Commissioner and his experinces among the poor then, allied with his earlier experiences among the poor of Manchester, developed in him an interest in education as a way of helping them; this led to him being responsible to a large degree for our present national system of education. He also wrote two novels! If you want to learn more about the many facets of the life and work of this important, though now, sadly, underrated Victorian, be sure to book in for the Day School.

Details of the 2010 activity and event programme will follow soon.

For more information please visit the Official Website

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