I was told by a lecturer on my first day at university, “the more you learn, the more you will realise you do not know yet,” and I can say the same is true of the wonderful Elizabeth Gaskell’s House. On my first day as a volunteer, I did not know what to expect; I had scoured the website in advance of sending my application for every possible detail, but truly the best way to experience this amazing historic site is to visit it. From every new volunteer I speak with, I feel I gain new snippets of detail and stories to be told in each of the beautifully restored rooms.
After just a few weeks here, I have met so many wonderful people, both fellow volunteers and visitors alike – you never know who might come through the door! I can confidently say that every object in every crevice of every room tells its own fantastic story, and helps to paint a colourful and wide-reaching tapestry of the lives of the Gaskells, including Elizabeth herself. I would never have guessed that Charlotte Bronte, much like the titular character at the beginning of Jane Eyre, would have hidden behind Elizabeth’s drawing room curtains for fear of another visitor who had come knocking.
Most importantly, I feel that the overarching atmosphere of the house today is one of welcoming, and I feel that Elizabeth would certainly have approved of this. Just as the Gaskells welcomed so many people into their home, now we too can welcome in so many visitors, and give them a glimpse into the life of not only a literary legend, but a family who cared so much for the city of Manchester, and who made so many memories here.