Fiendish Family Fun

9th October 2022
in news

October half-term (Sunday 23, Wednesday 26, Thursday 27 and Sunday 30 October) is the perfect time for families to visit Elizabeth Gaskell’s House with batty Halloween crafts to have fun with, cuddly cats playing hide and seek, ghost stories to track down and a new permanent exhibition about Elizabeth’s life as an author at the heart of Victorian society to enjoy.

Children can make a creepy (or cute!) Halloween bat decoration to take home with them and spook their friends.  All of the crafting will take place in the Servants’ Hall and is included within the admission cost.

They might not be witches’ cats, but there are lots of feline friends to look out for when you follow the Cranford Trail.  Aptly inspired by Elizabeth’s cat called Cranford, this is designed as an exciting way for families to experience the house and is also included within the admission cost. 

There aren’t reported to have been any ghosts spotted in the house or any historic hauntings, but it has played witness to the creation of a ghost.  Written whilst Elizabeth lived in the house, The Old Nurse’s Story is a book that belongs in all the best collections of Gothic ghost stories.  You can find out more about Elizabeth’s supernatural writing by chatting to any of the volunteer guides during your visit.

As well as all the main rooms to look around, there is a new permanent exhibition to explore, which shares more of Elizabeth’s life and introduces her friends, people such as Charlotte Brontë and Florence Nightingale.  Designed to be family friendly, it includes an interactive dressing table that helps you picture Elizabeth preparing to get ready to attend an art exhibition, which you can imagine yourself doing with a Victorian trunk full of dressing-up outfits to try on.  You can find out more about Elizabeth’s friends by playing a specially created game inspired by Top Trumps.

On good weather days you can finish off your visit by heading to the garden to follow the Garden Trail, with fun facts, the language of flowers, ideas for sustainability and more all woven into the experience.

Located on the edge of Manchester city centre Elizabeth Gaskell’s House is open every Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 11:00am to 4:30pm.  Entry is £6.50 (£7.00 from 1 November 2022) for adults and free for children under 16, when accompanied by an adult.  All the family friendly activities for October half-term are included within the ticket price.  Tickets are valid for 12 months from purchase and can be pre-booked via  For further information on Elizabeth Gaskell’s House visit


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About Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

Elizabeth Gaskell’s House is a Grade II* listed property that was built around 1835-1841 and is a rare surviving example of a suburban villa.  The Manchester author lived in the House with her family from 1850 until her death in 1865.  Her two daughters lived at the house until 1913.  

The Manchester Historic Buildings Trust was established in 1998 with the primary aim of saving Elizabeth Gaskell’s House.  The House opened to the public in October 2014 with support and funding from National Lottery Heritage Fund and other charitable trusts.

In 2019 Elizabeth Gaskell’s House Volunteer Team was presented with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

Plans are like a card-house-if one gives way, all the others come rattling about your head

Elizabeth Gaskell, 1864