A love affair with Cranford
Patron of Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, Dame Judi Dench, has shared memories of her appearance in the BBC adaption of Cranford creating a delightful introduction to the literacy house’s exhibition A Love Affair with Cranford. The exhibition, which is on until 30 April 2022, also includes the costume that Dame Judi wore in the 2007 BBC production, in which she played Miss Matty Jenkyns.
Cranford is recognised as Elizabeth Gaskell’s most popular novel, having never been out of print since its publication in 1851 and continuing to attract great international appeal. And, as Dame Judi reveals, those involved in making the TV production also found great joy in their Cranford days. Recounting a humorous interlude with Dame Eileen Atkins in the personal film recorded especially for Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, Dame Judi talks of the “greatest laugh and greatest time” shared with the “most wonderful company of people”. You can see Dame Judi talking about her Cranford experience here.
Cranford invites you into the world of Matty and Deborah Jenkyns, Mary Smith, Octavia Pole and complements the experience that visitors enjoy stepping into the period setting of the author’s former home. Having spent many months restricted to seeing period dramas only on the small screen, the real life experience is well worth the wait.
Sally Jastrzebski, House Manager of Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, says, “Receiving a personal message from Dame Judi has been a thrilling for our small team, who have worked so hard to get the House ready for visitors, with both a new exhibition to prepare and the completion of Elizabeth Gaskell’s reimagined bedroom. It’s brought a smile to our faces to hear Dame Judi reminisce about her much-loved role in Cranford and we hope it will inspire people to visit the exhibition.”
Family Friendly Fun
Elizabeth Gaskell’s cat was appropriately named Cranford and the thought of him pitter-pattering around the house is the inspiration for some family fun. There’s a whole cast of cuddly cats dressed in literary creations to spot, which form a trail through the house with some entertaining activities along the way.
Entry is free for under 16s accompanied by a paying adult, with booking recommended.
Time for Tea
When you’ve spent time exploring the beautifully appointed period rooms of this Grade II listed home, which include the recently revealed bedroom of Elizabeth Gaskell, it’s time to enjoy some refreshments. The Tea Room occupies what would have originally been the basement kitchen, where a wide selection of drinks is served alongside delicious cakes and biscuits. Traditional china and book-lined shelves add to the atmosphere of this charming space, which includes a small shop.
Picture Perfect Picnic
The gardens are one of the highlights of a visit to Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, with its volunteers having worked hard throughout the spring to ensure that the borders are at their colourful best and the vegetable patches are looking bountiful. The lawn that Elizabeth would have overlooked from one of her favourite writing spots is also the perfect place to enjoy a picnic for those that want to bring their own refreshments, with lots of space to roll out a picnic blanket and enjoy lunch in this serene setting.
A Love Affair with Cranford is included within the ticket price to Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, which is £5.50 for adults and £4.50 for concessions (senior citizens and students) and free for under 16s accompanied by a paying adult. Opening hours are 11:00am to 4:30pm every Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 11:00am to 4:30pm. Tickets can be pre-booked up to two weeks in advance via www.ticketsource.co.uk/elizabeth-gaskell-house.
This project is funded by the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage. The Culture Recovery Fund is being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic England, using funds provided by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.