84 Plymouth Grove

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84 Plymouth Grove
Gaskell House Plymouth Grove front.JPG
The front facade of 84 Plymouth Grove, now known as Elizabeth Gaskell's House
Former names42 Plymouth Grove
Alternative namesGaskell House
General information
Architectural style Neoclassical
Location Manchester, England
Coordinates 53°27′49″N2°13′16″W / 53.46361°N 2.22111°W / 53.46361; -2.22111 Coordinates: 53°27′49″N2°13′16″W / 53.46361°N 2.22111°W / 53.46361; -2.22111
Completedcirca 1838
OwnerManchester Historic Buildings Trust
Design and construction
Architect Richard Lane

84 Plymouth Grove, now known as Elizabeth Gaskell's House, is a writer's house museum in Manchester. [lower-alpha 1] The Grade II* listed neoclassical villa was the residence of William and Elizabeth Gaskell from 1850 till their deaths in 1884 and 1865 respectively. [5] The Gaskell household continued to occupy the villa after the deaths of Elizabeth and William. The death of Elizabeth Gaskell's daughter, Margaret Emily "Meta" Gaskell, in 1913, brought to an end the Gaskells' residence there.

Manchester City and metropolitan borough in England

Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England, with a population of 545,500 in 2017; the Greater Manchester Built-up Area is the United Kingdom's second-most populous, with a population of 2.55 million. It is fringed by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east, and an arc of towns with which it forms a continuous conurbation. The local authority is Manchester City Council.

Listed building Protected historic structure in the United Kingdom

A listed building, or listed structure, is one that has been placed on one of the four statutory lists maintained by Historic England in England, Historic Environment Scotland in Scotland, Cadw in Wales, and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency in Northern Ireland.

Neoclassical architecture is an architectural style produced by the neoclassical movement that began in the mid-18th century. In its purest form, it is a style principally derived from the architecture of classical antiquity, the Vitruvian principles, and the work of the Italian architect Andrea Palladio.

Contents

The house's architecture style is unusual in Manchester. The house itself was granted listed building status in 1952, partly due to its association with the Gaskells. This granted it protection from demolition, however, 84 Plymouth Grove slowly descended into a state of disrepair due to neglect.

Architecture of Manchester

The architecture of Manchester demonstrates a rich variety of architectural styles. The city is a product of the Industrial Revolution and is known as the first modern, industrial city. Manchester is noted for its warehouses, railway viaducts, cotton mills and canals - remnants of its past when the city produced and traded goods. Manchester has minimal Georgian or medieval architecture to speak of and consequently has a vast array of 19th and early 20th-century architecture styles; examples include Palazzo, Neo-Gothic, Venetian Gothic, Edwardian baroque, Art Nouveau, Art Deco and the Neo-Classical.

The Manchester Historic Buildings Trust commenced a restoration project in 2009, aiming to see 84 Plymouth Grove returned to its state as the Gaskells left it. By 2011, the Trust had finished the exterior, which included structural repairs and removing the pink paint that had coated the house for various years. However, in May 2011 their project was marred by the theft of the lead roof, which caused "extensive damage" according to the BBC. [6] On completion of the £2.5m restoration, the building was reopened to the public on 5 October 2014. [7]

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters are at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London, and it is the world's oldest national broadcasting organisation and the largest broadcaster in the world by number of employees. It employs over 20,950 staff in total, 16,672 of whom are in public sector broadcasting. The total number of staff is 35,402 when part-time, flexible, and fixed-contract staff are included.

History

84 Plymouth Grove was designed in the Greek Revival style, [8] probably by architect Richard Lane, circa 1838, and was speculatively built as part of a wider development catering to the burgeoning middle-classes in the area, then on the outskirts of the city. [9] The villa comprised drawing and dining rooms, seven bedrooms and a coach house wing. [10] The lavish house was built in response to the newly emerging middle class citizens of Manchester. The city, which had rapidly expanded due to the industrial revolution, held various degrees of housing, ranging from, poverty-ridden slum housing to the new era of luxurious housing such as 84 Plymouth Road.

Richard Lane (architect) English architect

Richard Lane was a distinguished English architect of the early and mid-19th century. Born in London and based in Manchester, he was known in great part for his restrained and austere Greek-inspired classicism. He also designed a few buildings – mainly churches – in the Gothic style. He was also known for masterplanning and designing many of the houses in the exclusive Victoria Park estate.

The middle class is a class of people in the middle of a social hierarchy. The very definition of the term "middle class" is highly political and vigorously contested by various schools of political and economic philosophy. Modern social theorists - and especially economists - have defined and re-defined the term "middle class" in order to serve their particular political ends. The definitions of the term "middle class" therefore are the result of the more- or less-scientific methods used when delineating the parameters of what is and isn't "middle class".

The design is striking; the house contains twenty rooms on two floors over a concealed basement with a front porch containing four columns carved with a lotus leaf shape, reminiscent of the Tower of the Winds in Athens. [5] [9] Stucco features on the front facade of the house. [8] Despite the house's facade having a pink coat for years, earning it the nickname 'The Pink House', [11] during the times of Elizabeth Gaskell the walls were described as a "stone-colour". [12]

Tower of the Winds tower in Athens, Greece

The Tower of the Winds or the Horologion of Andronikos Kyrrhestes is an octagonal Pentelic marble clocktower in the Roman Agora in Athens that functioned as a horologion or "timepiece". It is considered the world's first meteorological station. Unofficially, the monument is also called Aerides, which means Winds. The structure features a combination of sundials, a water clock, and a wind vane. It was supposedly built by Andronicus of Cyrrhus around 50 BC, but according to other sources, might have been constructed in the 2nd century BC before the rest of the forum. In summer of 2014, the Athens Ephorate of Antiquities began cleaning and conserving the structure; restoration work was completed in August 2016.

Athens Capital and largest city of Greece

Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, with its recorded history spanning over 3,400 years and its earliest human presence starting somewhere between the 11th and 7th millennium BC.

Stucco material made of aggregates, a binder, and water

Stucco or render is a material made of aggregates, a binder, and water. Stucco is applied wet and hardens to a very dense solid. It is used as a decorative coating for walls and ceilings, and as a sculptural and artistic material in architecture. Stucco may be used to cover less visually appealing construction materials, such as metal, concrete, cinder block, or clay brick and adobe.

The Gaskells' residence

Elizabeth Gaskell, in portrait of 1851 by George Richmond Elizabeth Gaskell.jpg
Elizabeth Gaskell, in portrait of 1851 by George Richmond

Elizabeth and William, along with their children, Marianne, Margaret Emily "Meta", Florence, and Julia, moved into the house (then numbered 42 Plymouth Grove) in June 1850, after the publication of Elizabeth's first novel, Mary Barton . [13] However, they had lived in Manchester for some time previously as William Gaskell's job of assistant Minister at Cross Street Unitarian Chapel, required the family to move from Knutsford, in neighbouring Cheshire. [14] The family had stayed at two different locations in Manchester, both of which have now been demolished. [14]

<i>Mary Barton</i> novel by Elizabeth Gaskell

Mary Barton is the first novel by English author Elizabeth Gaskell, published in 1848. The story is set in the English city of Manchester between 1839 and 1842, and deals with the difficulties faced by the Victorian working class. It is subtitled "A Tale of Manchester Life".

Cross Street Chapel church in United Kingdom

Cross Street Chapel is a Unitarian church in central Manchester, England. It is a member of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, the umbrella organisation for British Unitarians. Its present minister is Cody Coyne.

Knutsford town in Cheshire, England, United Kingdom

Knutsford is a town in Cheshire, England, 14 miles (23 km) south-west of Manchester and 9 miles (14 km) north-west of Macclesfield. The population at the 2011 Census was 13,191.

84 Plymouth Grove's spacious accommodation concerned Gaskell, who, despite calling the house "a beauty", was concerned about residing in such an expensive house (the rent was £150 per annum) while others lived in poverty. [15] Despite Elizabeth's concerns, the Gaskells were not frugal, with the twenty room house costing half of William's salary in rent. [9] Elizabeth, feeling guilty, justified it by stating, "It is [William] who is to decide on all these things". [16] Until the birth of their children they required only one servant, Betsy, however, at Plymouth Grove much more domestic staff were employed, including a cook, several maids, a handyman for outdoor work, as well as a washerwoman and a seamstress. [16] Elizabeth trained her staff and looked after their welfare whilst they were employed at the house. [16]

Charlotte Bronte, one of the many guests who stayed at 84 Plymouth Grove on various occasions Charlotte Bronte.jpg
Charlotte Brontë, one of the many guests who stayed at 84 Plymouth Grove on various occasions

Charlotte Brontë, who visited the house three times between 1851 and 1854, described it as "a large, cheerful, airy house, quite out of Manchester smoke". [13] The "Manchester smoke", as Brontë described it, was generated from the hundreds of textile factories and cotton mills situated within the inner city, in particular the Ancoats area. In the 1850s there were over 100 mills in Manchester. [17] On one occasion, the meek Brontë even hid behind the curtains in Gaskells' drawing room as she was too shy to meet the other guests. [18]

Barbara Brill, biographer of William Gaskell, stated that "Plymouth Grove could be likened to the activities of a beehive", [16] due to the Gaskells entertaining many guests whilst living at the house. Besides Brontë, visitors to the house during Elizabeth Gaskell's lifetime included Charles Dickens, who, on one occasion in 1852, made an impromptu visit to the house, along with his wife at 10 am, much to the dismay of Elizabeth, who mentioned it to be "far too early". [9] John Ruskin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, American writer Charles Eliot Norton and conductor Charles Hallé also visited Elizabeth Gaskell at Plymouth Grove. [9] Hallé visited the house often, teaching Meta Gaskell how to play the piano. [14]

Gaskell lived at Plymouth Grove with her family until her death 15 years later, in 1865, and all of her later books were written there, including some of her most famous works, such as Cranford and North and South . Gaskell died in Alton, Hampshire, in a house she had just secretly purchased, without informing William. [19] She had planned to entice William into leaving Manchester and retiring there, but she collapsed suddenly in the arms of Meta, and died on 12 November 1865. [19] Her husband, William Gaskell, a Unitarian minister and educationalist, survived Elizabeth by nearly two decades, dying in 1884 of bronchitis. [20] Upon his death, his two surviving unmarried daughters, Meta and Julia, lived in the house (his two other daughters, Marianne and Florence, had both married, though Florence died 3 years prior to William's death). [14] The two sisters continued living at Plymouth Grove and both were involved in various charitable causes throughout their lives. Julia, despite being the youngest, died before Meta, in October 1908, leaving Meta Gaskell alone at 84 Plymouth Grove. [14]

Meta Gaskell's death

The house, pictured in 1913, the year that the Gaskells' occupancy ended Gaskell 1913.jpg
The house, pictured in 1913, the year that the Gaskells' occupancy ended
"
WOULD BUY GASKELL HOME.
Suggestion That Manchester Make It a Literary Museum

LONDON, 28 Jan..—A suggestion made by Derwent Simpson, and supported by The Manchester Guardian, is that the home of the Gaskell family in Plymouth Grove, Manchester, should be bought by the Manchester Corporation and be made a literary museum. [21]
"
— 8 February 1914, The New York Times

In 1913 Meta Gaskell, the last of the Gaskells residing at Plymouth Grove, died, ending the family's 63 year occupancy of the villa. [13] Meta was not, however, the last living Gaskell daughter. Marianne Gaskell, the eldest child, lived until 1920. [14] Marianne, a married woman and mother of three children, did not live in Plymouth Grove, so Meta's death marked the end of the Gaskells in Plymouth Grove. Many suggested that the house become a public museum dedicated to Gaskell and her literary works, with the idea being supported by The Manchester Guardian .

The New York Times stated that the conversion to a museum could be achieved at "small expense", as it could sell some of the land belonging to the house for development. [21] Despite the suggestion, the idea was rejected by the local authority, with The Manchester Guardian quoting them as stating, "The house belonged to one of the ugliest periods of architecture and was of no value beyond its association with the Gaskell family." [9] Hopes of turning 84 Plymouth Grove into a museum were soon extinguished, and the house was simply left there. The University of Manchester purchased the building in 1969, converting it for use by the International Society. The university relinquished the building in 2000.

The house was listed Grade II* on the National Heritage List for England in February 1952. [22]

Restoration

84 Plymouth Grove pictured in 2009, immediately before restoration work began 84 Plymouth Grove, Manchester.jpg
84 Plymouth Grove pictured in 2009, immediately before restoration work began

The building was purchased in 2004 by the Manchester Historic Buildings Trust, with the aim of restoring the building and allowing it to be opened to the public. A blue commemorative plaque on the front of the house reads: "Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell (1810–1865) Novelist and authoress of Mary Barton and Cranford and many other works lived here (1850–1865)". In 2006, the house was in a very poor state of repair with severe structural problems, [9] and was listed on the English Heritage Buildings at Risk Register. An article in The Independent noted the state of disrepair: "Structural cracks run through the walls, the foundations have to be underpinned, the whole roof replaced and dry rot eradicated, while the entire building must be restored and upgraded." [9]

Restoration work began in September 2009. [23] The house stands within a five-minute walk of Victoria Baths, another Victorian-era landmark requiring substantial restoration. The villa was given a £750,000 restoration of its exterior and new roof was placed on the house in 2010. [24] Lead was used at the insistence of English Heritage. However, in May 2011, metal thieves stole most of the lead from the new roof, which caused £250,000 worth of damage in the process and allowed rainwater into the house. [24] The remaining lead was removed from the roof to deter any further thefts and a new roof constructed in its place. [24]

Work on the first phase of restoration, which fixed the roof, drains and structural damage, [25] finished in February 2013, [8] with most of the external work complete and the building made water-tight. During this time, the pink paint covering the house was stripped off and replaced with an off-white colour. [25]

A plaque in honour of Elizabeth Gaskell adorns the front of the house Elizabeth Gaskell blue plaque.JPG
A plaque in honour of Elizabeth Gaskell adorns the front of the house

In June 2012 it was announced that a grant of £1.85 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund had been secured, allowing restoration of the house's interior to take place. [25] The funding paid for the restoration of the bedrooms and reception rooms and created a visitor learning area. [25] The lottery grant was also used to help restore the house's garden, where the Gaskells once kept pigs, poultry and a cow. [8]

The ground floor of the house has been fully restored in the style of an authentic Victorian home. [1] Curators of the house researched what 84 Plymouth Grove would have looked like during the Gaskells' residence and borrowed a number of period items of furniture from the Manchester's art galleries and the John Rylands Library in order to recreate the Gaskells' study and other rooms. [1] Heritage experts from the Whitworth Art Gallery were consulted to help find the right wallpaper and paint colours that would have been used in the house at the time. [26] Armitage Construction, a specialist heritage firm founded in 1874, restored the decorative plasterwork and carpentry in the house using traditional lime plaster and woodworking techniques from the period. [26] In February 2014 the renovators of the house were seeking a donation of a mid-19th century Broadwood demi grand piano—the model that Charles Hallé used to teach Elizabeth Gaskell's daughters at the house—for the drawing room of 84 Plymouth Grove. [27]

The upstairs of the house has a number of rooms and performance spaces dedicated to educational work, literary and community events. [1] Gaskell House reopened to the public on 5 October 2014. [28] Curators of 84 Plymouth Grove hope that literary tourism will benefit the house, and make it a destination similar Shakespeare's Birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon or the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth. [1]

See also

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References

Notes

  1. 84 Plymouth Grove has been variously described as located within Ardwick, [1] Chorlton-on-Medlock, [2] Longsight [3] and Victoria Park. [4]

Footnotes

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Qureshi, Yakub (3 February 2014). "Elizabeth Gaskell house to reopen in October after £2.5m revamp". Manchester Evening News. Manchester. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  2. "Elizabeth Gaskell's House". Time Out . 3 February 2014. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  3. "Longsight's literary star". Manchester Evening News. Manchester. 10 April 2010. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  4. "Elizabeth Gaskell's house opens for history festival". BBC . 26 February 2012. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  5. 1 2 Images of England: 84 Plymouth Grove, Chorlton-On-Medlock
  6. "Elizabeth Gaskell's house damaged after lead theft". BBC News. 11 May 2011. Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  7. "Elizabeth Gaskell House Reopens". The Guardian. Guardian news and media. 4 October 2014. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  8. 1 2 3 4 Sykes, Alan (13 February 2013). "Elizabeth Gaskell's Manchester home to get £2.5m restoration". The Guardian . London. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "An ending Dickens would have liked". The Independent. London. 26 March 2006.
  10. Tapp, Blaise (1 June 2004). "Life of fame for Gaskell house". Manchester Evening News. M.E.N. Media. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  11. Qureshi, Yakub (7 January 2010). "Pink house to fade to grey". North East Manchester Advertiser. M.E.N. Media. Retrieved 5 February 2010.
  12. "The House". The Gaskells' House. Archived from the original on 20 January 2010. Retrieved 5 February 2010.
  13. 1 2 3 Uglow, J (1993). Elizabeth Gaskell: A Habit of Stories. Faber and Faber. ISBN   0-571-20359-0.
  14. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Elizabeth Gaskell and family". The Gaskells' House. Archived from the original on 9 December 2009. Retrieved 5 February 2010.
  15. Letter to Eliza Fox (April 1850) in Chapple, J A V; Pollard, A, eds. (1997). The Letters of Mrs Gaskell. Mandolin. ISBN   1-901341-03-8.
  16. 1 2 3 4 Brill (1984), pp 81–83.
  17. McNeil, Robina; Michael Nevell (2000). A Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of Greater Manchester. Association for Industrial Archaeology. ISBN   0-9528930-3-7.
  18. Adams, Stephen (15 April 2009). "Cranford comes to rescue of Elizabeth Gaskell's house". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 18 June 2010.
  19. 1 2 Rusell Jenkins (5 December 2008). "I won't see out the year, Elizabeth Gaskell told dear friend, months before she died". The Times. London. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  20. Brill (1984), pp 117–118.
  21. 1 2 "Would Buy Gaskell Home". The New York Times. 8 February 1914. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  22. Historic England, "Mrs Gaskells House (1271082)", National Heritage List for England , retrieved 12 January 2017
  23. http://www.elizabethgaskellhouse.org
  24. 1 2 3 "Elizabeth Gaskell's house damaged after lead theft". BBC News. 11 May 2011.
  25. 1 2 3 4 "Elizabeth Gaskell's home books a £1.8m facelift". Manchester Evening News. Manchester. 15 June 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  26. 1 2 Glendinning, Amy (25 March 2013). "Fans can book a table at novelist Elizabeth Gaskell's Ardwick home". Manchester Evening News. Manchester. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  27. "Wanted: 19th century Broadwood piano for Elizabeth Gaskell's house". International Piano. 5 February 2014. Archived from the original on 3 April 2014. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  28. Nugent, Helen (3 October 2013). "Elizabeth Gaskell's rare Victorian villa reopens after £2.5m restoration". The Guardian . Retrieved 27 October 2014.

Bibliography

Brill, Barbara (1984). William Gaskell, 1805–1884: A Portrait. Manchester Literary and Philosophical Publications. ISBN   0-902428-05-5.