Annual Impact Report 2023

8th March 2024
in news

The Board of Trustees of Elizabeth Gaskell’s House are pleased to share the 2023 Annual Impact Report which can be read in full via the link below.

These are just some of the things we’ve achieved in 2023:

  • We welcomed 4,877 visitors (6% more than last year, but still below pre-pandemic numbers)
  • We held 41 online talks, 21 private tours to groups & secondary schools and hosted 25 weddings
  • We received £14,300 in donations (compared to £2,230 in 2022)
  • We received £11,800 in charitable grants for projects across the year including:
    i) £5,000 for our ‘Tales of Manchester Life’ temporary exhibition (Museum Development North West)
    ii) £3,500 to create a Collections Store in our Attic (Association of Independent Museums)
    iii) £3,300 to update our signage to make the House more accessible (Museum Development North West)
  • Our garden won Gold at the Britain in Bloom Awards!
  • Finally, after tireless work from the team, we have submitted our Museum Accreditation application and should hear back in the summer.

One of the things that stands out in the Report is the consistent high quality experience our visitors have. We think this quote says it all:

“Excellent. Exceeded expectations. Highly recommended. Good displays. Good videos and interactives, House beautifully restored, Staff and Guides very friendly, enthusiastic and well-informed about the house, the author and her family. (Also a lovely tearoom!)”

Despite the incredible efforts of our staff and volunteers, the reality of the cost of preserving a building like Elizabeth Gaskell’s House for the public continues to be a real financial challenge in the current economic climate.

We are an independent charity, we don’t get regular local or national government funding and we rely completely on income from admissions, hires, weddings, events, shop sales and donations to cover our core running costs. As inflation and energy costs rise, audiences are also slow to return post-pandemic (a similar story that is seen in small museums and historic houses across the country).  Funding is more and more competitive, and as the restored House ages, the needs for repair and maintenance are greater than ever (as we saw with last year’s storm damage). In short, it is getting more and more challenging to balance the books.

We’re taking steps to address this – our Board are working together to review our business model and identify new income opportunities (especially around our 10th anniversary), and our staff team are maximising opportunities through weddings, hires, group bookings and online events. We’re making sure we can stay relevant and bring in new visitors to the House, whilst continuing to offer an excellent visitor experience. And we simply wouldn’t be able to survive without the constant dedication of our volunteers.

This House survived thanks to the generosity, hard work and determination of the people involved in saving it. The House’s story is one of resilience, and we will continue. 

We've got a certainly is a beauty...I must try and make the house give as much pleasure to others as I can.’

Elizabeth Gaskell, in a letter to her friend Eliza Fox in 1850.