Elizabeth Gaskell House

Elizabeth Gaskell House is in Plymouth Grove, Manchester and was a home of, obviously, Elizabeth Gaskell, the writer, who lived here between 1850 and 1865. After recently reading her book North and South, I thought I should go and see it, so I did.

And here’s the pics:

This is the study of William Gaskell, Elizabeth’s husband, a Unitarian minister, teacher and and all round remarkable person.

The drawing room:

Pictures on the wall in the drawing room. Portrait of Elizabeth on the left, the one on the right you may recognise as fellow Victorian author Charlotte Brontë , who was Elizabeth’s friend. After Charlotte’s death, Elizabeth wrote The Life of Charlotte Brontë, biography of Charlotte on request of Charlotte’s father Patrick Brontë. (My Haworth Parsonage post is here, if interested.)

The dining room:

Table in the dining room where Elizabeth did her writing work:

The contents of the house are not originals. Elizabeth and William had four daughters, two of whom never married and lived here till their death. The last one, Margaret, nicknamed Meta, died in 1913 and after that the house and its contents were sold. Later, the house was used as accommodation for students (Plymouth Grove is not far from the universities), until it was acquired by Manchester Historic Buildings Trust and reconstructed to look as much as possible as how it did during Elizabeth’s life.

The Gaskells used to have a lot of famous visitors, aside from Charlotte Brontë these included Harriet Beecher Stowe, Charles Dickens and John Ruskin. You look at that nice tea set and think, hmmm, I bet there was a lot of tea spilt!

Here’s the link the Elizabeth Gaskell House website, which has all the info.

Elizabeth Gaskell’s books are all now in public domain so you can read them for free or download them from Gutenberg. I’ve only read North and South so far, it’s her most famous novel and it’s a fantastic story but… on my dears, 19th century literature is… well, 19th century literature. Why use two words when you can use twenty in a sentence, eh? I don’t think I’m ever going to not struggle with it *long sigh*. But in the case of North and South, it’s worth it. The 2004 miniseries is pretty good too and it’s on Netflix, so go check it out. (Also, Richard Armitage as the love interest Mr Thornton, need I say more?)

Have you read any Elizabeth Gaskell? Have you visited the house? Tell me in the comments!

Pigeon Takeover

More pigeons!

Last Friday (3rd May), Piccadilly Gardens, an area in Manchester city centre, got evacuated due to a suspicious package. The police and bomb disposal squad were called, did their thing, the device was not viable, nothing bad happened and the culprit was arrested. So what has this got to do with pigeons?

I went out on my lunch break to see what Piccadilly Gardens looked like when it was empty. It was empty of people, but not of all living creatures, as you can see on these shots.

This wasn’t more than half an hour after the evacuation. It’s amazing how fast they took over once people were gone. But that is more of a topic for my Gloomscapes series.

Alan Turing Memorial, Manchester

It’s in Sackville Gardens, a small park bordering Canal Street, aka the area in Manchester commonly known as Gay Village.

Alan Turing was a brilliant computer scientist and mathematician, who worked on first computers at the University of Manchester and during WW2 was part of a team at Bletchley Park, working for the Government Code and Cypher School, cracking Germany’s military codes. Unfortunately he was not treated very well and was prosecuted because of his sexuality. He was granted a posthumous pardon in 2013.

Essentially, Alan Turing is the godfather of all modern computers.

Manchester Baby

It’s a computer!

A replica of the world’s first electronic store-program computer, to be precise.

Baby was built in Manchester and ran its first program in June 1948. This replica is now displayed in Science + Industry Museum in Manchester.

If you’re ever in Manchester and have time, I very much recommend Science and Industry Museum, it’s full of interesting things and great for kids too. Anyone been here?

The Pigeon Conferences

You see them everywhere.

You live in a city, you’re familiar with the sight of them.

Yeah, I know.

The above three photographs are from Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester.

I took this from the bus, as you can see. Somewhere in Salford.

This is the statue of Edward The Black Prince in City Square in Leeds. From my trip to Leeds.

Speaking of pigeons on statues of royalty, there is a statue of Queen Victoria in Piccadilly Gardens (which I’ve never taken a picture of) and, well, let’s just say Her Majesty would not exactly be happy.

What can you do but shrug? Pigeons gonna pigeon.