After having last week off for reading week, we were eager to get back and properly start volunteering at the House, however once we arrived at the house we were told by the deputy manager that we weren’t needed and that Angela must have forgotten to tell us. We agreed we would come back in two weeks, spending next week as a group discussing ideas to bring to the house.
Today Abbie and I went back to Gaskell’s House to shadow some of the volunteers in order to learn a bit more about the running of the house. Apart from the managers, all aspects of the House is run by volunteers, it is evident that they have played a significant role in the running of the house following its’ renovation.
We chatted with Margaret, the volunteer usually based in the main living room, who showed us some of Gaskell’s original belongings, including her passport which she told us was important considering the amount of travelling Gaskell liked doing with her daughters. Margaret was interesting to talk to and clearly knowledgeable on the topics faced, she did however raise the idea of creating more interactive exhibitions and more interesting ways of displaying the relevant information- something that both Abbie and I had commented on ourselves whilst walking round the House. Much of the information is displayed in A4 black and white booklets which are difficult for adults to fully take in, let alone children or teenagers. We agreed that we would bring this up with Angela when we next see her as part of our work in developing educational packs and making the information about Elizabeth Gaskell and her House more accessible and interesting for younger people.
Today was my first day on placement at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House in Manchester as one of my units for my degree at MMU. We met with Angela today to have a casual meeting and discussion about why we wanted to work at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House for our placement.
For me, working here seemed the perfect choice for my placement. I am doing an English and Social History degree, and as part of the reading for my English units I am actually studying some of Gaskell’s novels, therefore choosing to enhance my study by working at her actual house seemed a good choice. I was also interested in the opportunity to develop educational packs for the House that would be directed specifically at Key Stage 2 students. Along with the girls who are also doing this placement with me, we expressed these reasons for wanting to do this particular placement.
Angela then took us for a brief tour of the house; the house was recently renovated and although many of the pieces in the house aren’t the original artifacts belonging to Gaskell, they tried to replicate it to be as similar as possible. There were, however, a few pieces that actually belonged to Gaskell that were donated by her family, these pieces were particularly interesting to look at.
Overall, our visit today was beneficial in introducing us to the house, we have arranged to meet again in just over a week to shadow some of the volunteers and learn a bit more about the house and how it is run.