The first classic book I ever read of my own free will (aka outside of school) was North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. It is my favorite classic book written in the Victorian times.
So when I was choosing somewhere to visit in the UK, I chose Manchester… I’ll admit, mostly because I wanted to visit Elizabeth Gaskell’s House.
Who is Elizabeth Gaskell?
Author, biographer, wife, mother, traveler.
Born in 1810, Elizabeth was a relation of the Wedgwood family and Charles Dickens. It was her husband, Reverend William Gaskell who encouraged Elizabeth to write after the death of their son.
How to Get to Elizabeth Gaskell’s House
Elizabeth Gaskell’s House is located at 84 Plymouth Grove. I was staying in the city center at The Midland Manchester and decided to walk. It’s about a 1.5 mile walk, a little over 30 minutes. There weren’t a ton of people walking on a Sunday morning but it is pedestrian friendly with sidewalks all the way to the house.
If you don’t want to walk, the public transportation option is to take the 197 bus. If I didn’t walk I’d take the Manchester City Centre/Princess St station near the hotel and direct to the Hyde Gr stop. It would’ve taken around 20 minutes.
What to See and Do at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House
Admission is £5. The house is open three days a week – Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from 11 am to 4.30 pm.
Tour the home and talk to a friendly volunteer
How long or short you spend at the house is up to how interested you are. I could easily have spent several hours talking to the volunteers who are so knowledgeable about her life.
Each room has a volunteer who can answer any questions you have. In William Gaskell’s study, none of the books actually belonged to Gaskell, so you’re free to touch all of the books on the shelf. In each book is a little description about why the book is in his study.
The house underwent a £2.5m renovation to restore the home back to what it would’ve looked like when Elizabeth Gaskell lived in it. And how her guests might have seen it – including her friend Charlotte Bronte who visited her several times.
So you can imagine exactly how it was when the family lived in the home.
Don’t Miss Her Writing Table!
This is exactly where Elizabeth Gaskell sat to write her famous novels. You can just imagine she had the same light come into the room at that hour.
She would’ve looked out into her garden, beyond where the gate currently is.
Don’t miss going to the basement of the house. There’s a gift shop, tea room and once a month – a used book sale. I happened to be there on that day. You must pay the admission to access the book sale.
Total Day Trip Cost:
Admission: £5 (about USD $6)
Optional costs: Transportation (bus or Uber), tea in the tea room (including an exclusive tea blend made for the house) – £1.80
Hours: Wed, Thurs and Sun 11.00 – 4.30pm