What’s New in 2018

10th January 2018
in news

Manchester’s literary landmark, Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, will offer visitors a wealth of new cultural treats in 2018.  As Manchester celebrates its UNESCO City of Literature status, the beautifully-restored home of one of its finest and most famous Victorian writers has some treats in store, including the exhibition of a letter to one of Elizabeth Gaskell’s servants, discovered in the attic during restoration work last year, and the debut in the house of an impressive Italian artwork in the style of Fifteenth-Century sculptor Luca della Robbia, bought by Elizabeth Gaskell’s daughters on a trip to Italy and originally given to the Whitworth Gallery. There will be events and activities for families, crafters, literature and heritage fans, and for anyone wanting to enjoy a hands-on experience of Manchester’s fine cultural history.

NEW: Della Robbia style Altarpiece

In 1898 Elizabeth’s daughters Meta and Julia Gaskell purchased aNineteenth-Century Della Robbia style altarpiece which was gifted to the then newly-founded Whitworth Art Gallery.  In a happy reversal of generosity, it has been given to Elizabeth Gaskell’s House by the Whitworth Art Gallery and is now on display in the hallway in the house. Find out more

A letter to William
In July 2016, while working on the Coach House at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, workmen discovered a letter wedged between the brickwork and roof trusses in this room. Although the pages were badly scorched, they were reasonably legible. It was sent from Maryport, Cumberland, in June 1853, to William (Will) Preston, a servant to the Gaskell family. In one of her letters, Elizabeth Gaskell noted that Will slept in the attic space above the stables. A new exhibition on servants will include the letter itself and more information about Will Preston himself. In the meantime, you can read about the letter in the basement of Elizabeth Gaskell’s House. Find out more

NEW EXHIBITION –  Household Commotion: Domestic Management at Plymouth Grove
This new exhibition focuses on the servants and will open at Easter 2018. Led by the Elizabeth Gaskell House Research Volunteers this new exhibition will look in detail at some of the individual servants that worked for the Gaskells including Hearn, Elizabeth’s faithful housekeeper, and Will Preston, the outdoor servant from Cumbria, whose letter was found during the renovations of the house. The exhibition will also look at the role of servants within Victorian Manchester and the ‘servants’ problem’ shared by Elizabeth’s contemporaries. Find out more

NEW: Story and Play sessions
Join us every second Wednesday* from 14 February, 11am-12pm for a story and play session in the Servants’ Hall for under-fives. Included in admission. *Excluding school holidays

The Manchester Quilt
19 Feb – 4 March
The Elizabeth Gaskell’s House Sewing Bee present their Manchester Quilt in this temporary exhibition over February Half Term. Take a closer look at the beautiful quilt made by the group, find out more about quilt making in the 19th Century and read about Elizabeth’s own sewing habits in this mini exhibition. Included in admission. Find out more

Half Term Family Crafts
21 February
Join us for textile-based craft activities with visual artist Rose Miller in the Servants’ Hall from 1-3pm. Usual admission applies (under 16s free) plus £1 for children taking part in the craft activity. No need to book – just turn up. Find out more

Rose Miller is a visual artist, originally from Brighton and now based in Manchester. She currently works freelance in prop making, puppetry, carnival and community arts. Find out more about her at

Mothering Sunday at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House
11 March

Diane Duffy will be giving a short talk in the Dining Room at 1pm about how Elizabeth constructed a space to write amidst her busy life as a wife and mother. All mums will get a free cup of the Elizabeth Gaskell’s House Blend Tea or filter coffee in the tea room. Included in admission. Find out more

Victorian Parlour Music
Sunday 18 March
Join amateur musicians Matt Holker and Robert Nicholls in the Drawing Room for an afternoon of Victorian parlour songs, including some referred to by Elizabeth Gaskell. At intervals from 2pm. Included in admission. Find out more

Calligraphy Workshop
Friday 23 March
Learn the beautiful skill of writing with nib and ink in a bespoke calligraphy workshop at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House. A wonderful opportunity to relax and let your creativity flow, in the splendidly-restored home of one of Manchester’s most famous writers.

You will be introduced to the elegant art of calligraphy by calligrapher and brush lettering artist Joyce Lee*, in the glorious Regency-style house in the heart of Manchester. With Joyce’s expert tuition, you’ll learn modern calligraphy techniques, and have the chance to pen a letter yourself during the three-hour workshop.

Workshop participants will have the whole house to themselves, for inspiration and contemplative work – from the beautiful garden to the book-lined Study, and the graceful Drawing Room to the Dining Room where Elizabeth Gaskell herself sat with quill pen and ink to pen her famous novels – and many letters.

Participants will be given a specially-curated calligraphy starter kit to keep, including nibs, nib holder, ink, letter writing supplies and notes.  They will enjoy home-made cake and Elizabeth Gaskell’s House-blend tea or filter coffee in our Tearoom, as part of the workshop.

The workshop will be held to celebrate the exhibition of the letter to Elizabeth Gaskell’s servant, Will Preston, found during renovations to the house in 2016, and will be the start of a project inviting people to write a letter and have it displayed as part of the exhibition.

The price of the workshop is £70 and includes a calligraphy starter kit and refreshments. Find out more and Book

Father’s Day at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House
17 June
Join us for a short talk from one of our volunteers ‘Through the Study Window’. This short talk will discuss what the Revd. William Gaskell (husband and father) would have seen from his window in the study at Plymouth Grove and how that outlook changed during the Gaskells’ residency. Who were their neighbours and where did these people move to as Manchester pushed its way further into the suburbs? All Dads will get a free cup of the Elizabeth Gaskell’s House Blend Tea or filter coffee in the Tearoom.

Plymouth Grove Creative Writing Group – every fourth Thursday, 2-3pm
We are very excited to introduce a new leader for our monthly Plymouth Grove Writing Group; the writer and Anne Brontë expert, Nick Holland. Nick will be leading our monthly group which meets every fourth Thursday of the month (2-3pm) and is looking forward to be inspired by both the house and the group itself.
All welcome – no need to book. It’s just £1 plus usual admission. Find out more

Reading the Nineteenth Century
Nineteenth-Century novelists are not only masterful storytellers, but also valuable witnesses of their times. This brand-new course will be focusing on four writers, each of whom throw a fascinating light on the issues of the day, starting with Elizabeth Gaskell herself.

This course is for the general reader who wants to delve a little more deeply into their reading. Participants will be expected to read all four novels ahead of the monthly discussions, and to share their ideas with the rest of the group.

The course will run 7-9pm on Wednesdays, 24 January, 28 February, 28 March, 25 April, 23 May. The seminars are led by Sherry Ashworth, writer and Visiting Teaching Fellow at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Each session is £8 or book all five courses for £35. Find out more and book


New cooks always want their own peculiar little odds & ends for cookery

Elizabeth Gaskell 1863