Page last updated at 06:30 GMT, Thursday, 16 April 2009 07:30 UK

Grant for Cranford author's home

Gaskell's House
The money will go towards repairing the roof, windows and cracked walls

The home of Cranford author Elizabeth Gaskell has been awarded a £262,000 grant for urgent repairs.

The English Heritage cash will pay for structural work on the Grade II-listed house in Plymouth Grove, Manchester, considered a British literary shrine.

Gaskell wrote most of her novels in the detached Regency-style Villa from 1850 until her death in 1865.

Authors including Charles Dickens and Charlotte Bronte are known to have visited and stayed at the house.

Built in the 1830s, the house is described by heritage groups as second only in importance to the Bronte Parsonage in Haworth, Yorkshire.

This is a major historical building and it will be wonderful to see it restored to its former glory
Dame Judi Dench

It is also one of the few surviving buildings of its type in Manchester.

The property is owned by the Manchester Historic Buildings Trust, which needs about £2m for a full restoration.

The grant will allow repairs to the roof, rotten windows and cracked walls as well as removing the dry rot, which is eating its way through the house.

'Former glory'

Dame Judi Dench, a patron of the Trust and star of the recent BBC television adaptation of Cranford, welcomed the grant.

She said: "I am delighted that English Heritage is offering a grant to carry out the work that is needed on Elizabeth Gaskell's house.

"This is a major historical building and it will be wonderful to see it restored to its former glory."

Elizabeth Gaskell. Copyright John Rylands University Library
Gaskell lived in the villa until her death in 1865

As part of its long-term project, the trust wants to open the house to visitors and refurbish parts of the interior as it was in Gaskell's time.

Henry Owen-John, of English Heritage, said: "The house where she wrote much of her work is an integral part of the story of this dynamic period when Manchester's textile industry was at the forefront of world trade.

"It is vitally important that this building is saved from dereliction so it can help to tell the story of Manchester and the industrial north."

While Gaskell is best known for Cranford, she wrote five other books along with two novellas, numerous articles and short stories and a biography of her friend, Charlotte Bronte.



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