Outer Hall

‘A large, cheerful, airy house, quite out of Manchester smoke.’

- Charlotte Brontë, 1851

The exterior of the house was (and is) dignified and solid, but the interior was, by all accounts, cheerful and welcoming. No doubt, the generous hallway was useful when the Gaskells’ numerous visitors arrived. The doors dividing the Outer Hall from the rooms at the centre of the house created a degree of privacy for the household while William’s pupils waited outside his study, just inside the front door.


In the early 1860s, the popularity of swapping cartes de visite gave rise to a craze called ‘cardomania’. Cartes de visite were small portrait photographs printed on card, which were enthusiastically exchanged by friends and visitors. Elizabeth’s photograph was taken by the Edinburgh photographer, Alexander McGlashon, probably on a visit there in 1864. In
the photograph, she turns the pages of a book: an appropriate pose for a well-known author.

Elizabeth and William would have received cartes de visite from their friends and acquaintances. Some of these have been reproduced in the Outer Hall.