Book sale at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Elizabeth Gaskell's House garden. Photo by Chris Tucker
Elizabeth Gaskell's House. Photo by Chris Tucker.

Activities at Elizabeth Gaskell's House, online, Until 12 December 2021, free entry - Visit now

Elizabeth Gaskell’s House has to be on the must-see list of every discerning literary tourist exploring the UNESCO City of Literature and was home to the famous Victorian writer and her husband from 1850 until her death in 1865, and is where Elizabeth wrote some of her most famous novels. A Grade II*-listed neoclassical Regency-style villa on Plymouth Grove in Ardwick, just one mile from Manchester City centre, the award-winning writer’s house museum has been lovingly restored, with renovations still taking place, including on Elizabeth’s bedroom.

Although the house is not fully reopen to the public until 19 May, the book sale is back on Sunday 18 April, with timed visits now available to book in advance. Elizabeth Gaskell’s House is also home to ‘possibly the best secondhand book sale in Manchester’, serving up cheap reads – and not just for copies of North & South – in the Servants Hall. There are always both new and secondhand books for sale in the tearoom but this monthly fair is a chance to come and browse a wider selection of tomes, including a variety of fiction and gardening, of course, plus art, photography, classics, biographies, history, OS maps and much more, and prices are as little as £1 for a paperback. The sales – which raise valuable funds – are scheduled for 2021, 11am-4pm, as follows: 18 April, 9 May, 13 June, 11 July, 8 August, 12 September, 10 October, 14 November and 12 December.

Elizabeth Gaskell’s House is also home to ‘possibly the best secondhand book sale in Manchester’, serving up cheap reads – and not just for copies of North & South – in the Servants Hall.

Elizabeth Gaskell’s House has been awarded the Visit England We’re Good To Go badge, demonstrating that the team makes sure it adheres to the respective Government and public health guidance in regards to COVID-19. To ensure a safe, socially distanced visit, you must pre-book a timeslot (these are every 15 minutes, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday 11am to 4.30pm – last entry 3.30pm; tickets are bookable up to two weeks in advance) and wear a face mask. An average visit to Elizabeth Gaskell’s House lasts approximately two hours, including a visit to the newly reopened Tea Room, located in the original kitchen and serving light refreshments.

Aside from the house, there’s a wonderful garden, replanted and returned to its former glory by a dedicated group of volunteers. The purpose of the garden at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House has always been to give as much enjoyment today as it did in Elizabeth’s time, and this has recently been recognised with the presentation of a prestigious RHS Britain In Bloom Silver Gilt Award. The garden’s layout is based on a detailed map of Manchester in 1850 which shows the paths and planting areas, and the choice of plants has been informed by references in Elizabeth’s letters and novels, as well as by Victorian garden history. The garden was very important to Elizabeth, for both pleasure and practical reasons – this was where she could grow flowers that were a sensory delight and also vegetables for the kitchen – and plans are afoot to reinstate the conservatory outside the Drawing Room, which would provide additional enjoyment of the garden to visitors… watch this space.

Also be sure to also check out the exhibition, currently “My Dear Mr Ruskin…” Friendship, Inspiration and Scandal, John Ruskin and the Gaskell Family. It’s part of a programme of activities celebrating the bicentenary of the birth of writer, artist, social reformer, philanthropist, ecologist and ‘visionary thinker’ John Ruskin, that have been taking place around the UK and also abroad. Often sharing the same ideals, putting them at odds with their contemporaries, John Ruskin and Elizabeth Gaskell were controversial writers during the 19th century.

Activities at Elizabeth Gaskell's House, online

Reoccurring dates
Free entry