Welcome to 84 Plymouth Grove, Manchester. For over 150 years, this house has been associated with its most famous resident: the novelist, Elizabeth Gaskell, who lived here from 1850 to 1865. Cited after her death as ‘one of the greatest female novelists of all time’, she is best known for writing the novels Cranford, Ruth, North and South and Wives and Daughters, as well as the biography of her friend Charlotte Brontë,
The House, now a Grade II* listed property, was built between 1835-1841 on the outer edge of the growing city. It was built as part of a new suburban development planned by Richard Lane and is a rare example of the elegant Regency-style villas once popular in Manchester.
The Victorian Period Rooms
The Study, Morning Room, Drawing Room, Dining Room and Elizabeth’s bedroom have been restored to how they would have looked in around 1857. Elizabeth’s letters and our own research have enabled us to present the rooms as we think they were. The fireplaces, sourced locally, date from around 1840 when the House was built and the light fittings have all been converted from gas to electricity. Research identified the original paint colours and the styles of the wallpapers.
Loans of items originally from the house are displayed throughout the house, some of which are from descendants of the family, and include Elizabeth’s wedding veil, her Paisley shawls and miniatures.
The Morning Room
Watch an introductory film about to Elizabeth Gaskell and learn about Victorian Manchester in what was the Morning Room when the Gaskell family lived at the House.
William Gaskell’s Study
The books on the shelves today are volumes that we know or believe that the Gaskells either owned or read. The evidence for reconstructing the Gaskells’ book collection comes from various historical and literary sources, including the 1914 catalogue of books sold after Meta’s death, references in Elizabeth’s works and letters, and the records of books and periodicals borrowed from the Portico Library.
The Drawing Room
The restoration of the Drawing Room is based on a variety of historical sources: letters to and from Elizabeth; evidence of similar middle-class drawing rooms of this time; and photographs of this room in 1897. The chintz for the curtains and loose covers have been printed from a 1850s design, and the carpets have been specially woven, using Victorian patterns preserved by a mill in Halifax.
The Dining Room
The round table in the bay window was Elizabeth’s favourite place in the house to write, although the Dining Room has three doors and there were frequent interruptions.
The bedroom restoration was a volunteer-led project, completed in April 2021 and was funded by donations and sponsorship of objects. We used the reference documents from the original house restoration, with advice from the curators and research by volunteers.
William and his two unmarried daughters, Meta and Julia, continued to live in the House after Elizabeth’s death in 1865. When Meta died in 1913, the house and its contents were sold at auction.
Bringing the House back to life
Thanks to a major £2.5m project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and others, the restored House is fully open to the public. The following film shows the transformation.
Historic Images of the House and the Restoration
Elizabeth Gaskell’s House is run by Manchester Historic Buildings Trust (charity no. 1080606) and all money gained through private tours, talks, room hire and ticket sales goes towards the ongoing maintenance and running costs of the house. If you would like to support the house with an additional donation you can do so via this link.