Introducing Cranford

18th April 2018
in news

Elizabeth Gaskell’s House is delighted to introduce Cranford, our new (imaginary) House cat and star of our new Children’s Trail, created by one of our volunteers, Rebecca Heselton.

Rebecca is a graphic designer and illustrator currently based in Manchester. “After graduating last year from the University of Edinburgh with an MA in Fine Art and Art History, I went on to study Graphic Design for three months at Shillington College, Manchester. I first became involved with the Elizabeth Gaskell’s House after visiting just before Christmas and learning of the wide range of opportunities for volunteer contribution. It is fantastic that such an interesting place has survived and is now open to the public, and by re-designing an interactive children’s trail we hoped to make it more accessible for younger visitors as well.”

Rebecca was keen to invent an engaging children’s character to help convey information about the house and lives of the Gaskells, and originally came up with a squirrel, as there is one (named Knutsford by the gardeners) who is a persistent visitor to the house gardens. When she discovered that Elizabeth Gaskell had actually owned a cat called Cranford, from Paris, who she describes in a letter as having “very long hair and soft pretty eyes”, this seemed like the perfect choice for a children’s character.

Rebecca found Cranford the cat  fun to illustrate adding “The part I enjoyed the most about the project was finding objects to illustrate from around the house for children to identify whilst they are wandering round. I think the biggest thing I have learned is how to simplify information in a way that makes it digestible and engaging for children. Now that the trail is finished I can’t wait to see it in action and get some feedback from the children and other guests visiting the house!”

The trail is now available to all visitors and can be collected from the front desk. Purr-fect for our younger visitors and their families.


The House, garden and Tea Room are open every Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday 11am-4.30pm. £5/£4 per person and under 16s are free. Tickets last for 12 months.

Younger visitors might also be interested in our monthly Story and Play session for under fives – every second Wednesday during term time, 11am-12pm.


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

Elizabeth Gaskell, 1864