Gaskell’s House is preparing to reopen its doors on Wednesday 12 August, with visitors invited to enjoy exploring the Grade II* listed Regency-style villa where Elizabeth wrote some of her most famous novels.
Pre-booked tickets, bookable up to two weeks in advance, with allocated admission times will ensure a smooth and safe process is in place. All of the house will be open, which visitors will explore in groups of up to five people. Elizabeth’s favourite writing spot, stories of entertaining guests including Charlotte Bronte and Charles Dickens and life for this Victorian family are all part of the discoveries to be made. The Tea Room, located in the original kitchen, will also be open serving light refreshments, or visitors can bring a picnic blanket and sit in the garden with their own picnic lunch
Sally Jastrzebski-Lloyd, House Manager of Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, says, “We are delighted to be able to open the House again and that people will be able to visit us in the summer, when the garden is an array of colour thanks to our wonderful volunteers. Over the next few weeks we are putting all the preparations and measures into place to ensure that what awaits is a really enjoyable experience for visitors, volunteers and staff.”
Whilst the doors of the House were closed to the public behind the scenes an army of volunteers has continued to donate its time and expertise to maintain the beautiful gardens that surround the House, entertain literary lovers with a digital readalong and support the project to recreate Elizabeth’s bedroom.
The gardens of this once family home are part of its crowning glory, the work to keep them looking pristine has continued throughout spring and summer with a team of four to five volunteers working on the maintenance each week during lockdown. And for those missing the chance to visit the House, the perfect antidote has been a Elizabeth Gaskell readalong; led by volunteers and held on Twitter and Facebook these have taken readers on a chapter by chapter discussion through North & South and Tales of Mystery & the Macabre. Not only have they drawn in international audiences, many of those participating have also donated towards the Elizabeth Gaskell bedroom project.
Just before lockdown, Manchester Historic Buildings Trust, the charity that cares for the house, launched a fundraising campaign to support the re-creation of Elizabeth’s bedroom as it would have been when the property was her much-loved home. It has been a long term aim to achieve this vision, with the room left unrestored since the House was opened as a visitor attraction in 2014. As a completely empty space every element is required from the decoration and furniture, to the soft furnishings and decorative accessories.
Sally continues, “The support we’ve had for the fundraiser has been amazing and means that even during lockdown some of the work has been able to take place. This is particularly thanks to volunteers, who have been researching key items such as textiles, and the work to install the fireplace has also happened in the last couple of weeks. We’ve almost achieved the funding for the entire project and hope that with the reopening of the house that we’ll be able to reach our final funding goal.”
It is hoped that the work to Elizabeth’s bedroom can be completed later this year, with this then not only becoming part of the visitor experience, but also a place where wedding couples will be able to get ready for their celebrations. Donations to the bedroom project can be made via www.givey.com/manchesterhistoricbuildingstrust
Elizabeth Gaskell’s House will reopen from Wednesday 12 August when it will be open every Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 11:00am to 4:30pm. Entry is £5.50 for adults and £4.50 for concessions (senior citizens and students). Tickets can be pre-booked up to two weeks in advance via www.ticketsource.co.uk/elizabeth-gaskell-house.
Elizabeth Gaskell’s House has received the VisitEngland accreditation, We’re Good To Go, which means that it has followed all of the government and industry Covid-19 guidelines and implemented the recommended measures. Visitors will also find creative signage around the house that carries the instructions of Elizabeth Gaskell’s very good friend Florence Nightingale, who recommended “wash your hands frequently and thoroughly”.
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