Academic journal article The Gaskell Journal

London & South East Branch

Academic journal article The Gaskell Journal

London & South East Branch

Article excerpt

The branch continues to flourish for two very good reasons. One is the loyal and committed membership. Our meetings have been very well attended for the past year, with several new recruits and some visitors. All are welcome and make a valuable contribution to the afternoons. Not only do members participate with enthusiasm, but they also bring books for and buy books from the bookstall, making it possible to donate money to Elizabeth Gaskell's House.

The first meeting of the new year (we use the academic year for our meetings) was perhaps its highlight. A group of us signed up to a train trip to Manchester to visit the newly restored and furnished Elizabeth Gaskell's House. We had no idea when we started out on a peaceful train (no football fans!) that we were in for such a treat. It was an 'open house' weekend with guides to explain and show us round. The committee responsible should be justly proud of the authentic objects and furnishings, the books in William's library that replicate what would have been on the shelves then, and the sense that the house is actually occupied. With the garden partly planted and the exterior re-painted, it is easy to see why William and Elizabeth chose this elegant mansion. No wonder she felt slightly guilty at dwelling in such lovely semi-rural surroundings and in such a charming home.

The tea provided in a private room especially for us was delicious. Sandwiches and cake refreshed us for the journey home, which was uneventful, and we arrived back in London enriched by the day. Our thanks must go to everyone in Manchester who made it such a memorable experience, notably Janet Allan and all her helpers. Thank you so much.

This year we were able to make a special contribution to the house through one of our members, Sean Martin. …

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