7 December – Spend a wintry day at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

Polly Checkland Harding

Our cultural countdown to Christmas… Today, plan a visit to one of Manchester’s most historic attractions (which happens to do great tea and cake).

Elizabeth Gaskell’s House is a rather magical place in the winter; the garden and trees that surround it become gilded with frost, and there’s a cosy fire inside. The house has been lovingly restored to how it would have looked when the novelist Elizabeth Gaskell lived there – now, you can sit at her desk in the dining room, where her writing was constantly disrupted with questions about the children or how long to boil the beef for tea. You can also see the window where Charlotte Brontë hid behind the curtains, too shy to join the company (a bit like the opening scene in her novel Jane Eyre). Best of all, you can get some idea of what Christmas might have been like in the mid-1800s.

Get some idea of what Christmas might have been like in the mid-1800s

Downstairs, there’s a tea room located in what was originally the house’s kitchens; it’s a cosy, elegant space with exposed brick, quotes on the walls and a basement view up into the garden. It’s this that makes spending a good part of a day here truly enjoyable; in between admiring an interactive map of 19th-century Manchester, William Gaskell’s study and the exhibition space upstairs, you can enjoy a restorative hot or cold drink, plus a lush slice of cake. Bliss. Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, open Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays until 20 December (reopens 3 January), 11am-4.30pm. Tickets £4.95 / £3.95 Conc. and valid for 12 months from date of purchase.

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