A Cultural Day in Manchester

Over the Coronation Weekend we spent a thoroughly enjoyable day in Manchester.

Our first destination was Ordsall Hall. We've been planning a visit here for quite a while. We're fascinated to discover a Fifteenth Century manor house in the middle of Salford!

Ordsall Hall exceeded our expectations. We explored the house including the Great Hall, the Kitchen, Star Chamber and the Great Chamber. The restoration, which was only completed in 2011, is extremely sympathetic and ensured the survival of the Hall for generations to come.

I was thrilled to discover a connection with the Nineteenth Century author William Harrison Ainsworth. Ainsworth is best remembered for his Lancashire Novels, of which The Lancashire Witches is his most famous. In his time Ainsworth's novels were known as historical potboilers! The Lancashire Witches has never been out of print since its first publication in 1848, serialised in the Sunday Times. 

Whilst not featuring in The Lancashire Witches, Ordsall Hall plays an important role in the first of William Harrison Ainsworth's seven Lancashire novels: Guy Fawkes. The story is based on the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, although Ainsworth heavily embellished the known facts. He invented the character of Viviana Radcliffe, daughter of the prominent Radcliffe family of Ordsall Hall – who becomes Guy Fawkes's wife – and introduced gothic and supernatural elements into the story, such as the ability of the alchemist, John Dee, to raise the spirits of the dead.

After a thoroughly enjoyable couple of hours at Ordsall Hall, we moved onto Manchester Art Gallery. Here we explored one of the Gallery's current exhibitions Trading Stations: How Hot Drinks Shape our Lives. This is a fascinating exhibition and the highlight for me was the painting by James Durden: Summer in Cumberland.

We also spent some time in the Gallery's shop and left with a fine collection of books.

From the Gallery we walked through China Town to the Little Yang Sing, where we enjoyed a delicious meal. The final element of our day, following a walk past the Town Hall and Central Library, was to see Post Modern Jukebox at the Bridgewater Hall.

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable day.