Cultural adventures

The idea for a visit to Elizabeth Gaskell’s house in Manchester came after John Flynn met the house manager, Sally Jastrzebski-Lloyd, at a travel trade show. He explains more about the trip.

Dressing up at Elizabeth Gaskell’s house.

‘In April I took 45 members of Role On – the support group for recent long term former carers across the Wirral – on a day trip to Manchester. We travelled with Rochdale based Ellen Smith Coach Tours, whose drivers are friendly and very supportive of members who need help with mobility.

Elizabeth Gaskell’s novels such as Mary Barton, Cranford and North and South are well known, and we thought it would be interesting to learn more about the writer herself. Arriving at the house our coach parked close to the entrance and we were welcomed by Sally, who gave us an overview about the house’s history and what we would see during our visit. We were then split into two groups, each with a guide who led us round the ground and upper floors. The guides were excellent, they gave us plenty of information, could answer any question we posed and encouraged us to touch and inspect the exhibits. The house is fully accessible with lifts between the floors.

The basement houses an excellent café where we enjoyed ‘cakes to die for’ and also discovered more about Elizabeth herself, and the people who had visited her ‘at home’, including Charles Halle (founder of the Manchester based Halle orchestra) and writers such as Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens and Beatrix Potter. There’s a pretty and compact garden to wander around too.

We followed on with a coach tour of Victorian Manchester and had lunch at the grade II listed 200 year old pub, The Briton’s Protection, which is decorated with murals relating to the Peterloo Massacre. Our literary and historically rich day was much enjoyed by all.’