Saturday, 1 February 2014

A repurposed textile merchant's house

I spoke in my last post about visiting the Dior exhibition at the Gallery of Costume in Manchester. It is based in Platt Hall which was owned and built by Charles Worsley, a 17th century textiles merchant. He was a favourite of Cromwell, fighting with him in the civil war, and was made the first MP for Manchester by Cromwell. Sadly he died at the age of 35.

The original Platt Hall was a black and white timbered building. It was replaced by the current Georgian hall in 1746. The house and grounds (having undergone various changes throughout the years) remained within the Worsley family until 1908 when it was purchased by Manchester City Council. It had been under threat of being bought for development and would have been torn down and the land used for housing. The council purchase prevented this, the council turned the estate land into a park and the area was also used for exhibitions.

The Gallery now houses one of the biggest costume collections in the UK and I will talk more about this in an upcoming post.

What struck me as I wandered around looking at the Dior exhibition was the beauty of the inside of the house. Obviously not all it's original features and layout are intact but there are some really gorgeous parts which I felt were worth sharing.

When you walk into the entrance hall the first thing that you see is this grand staircase. This is just half of it, there is a mirror image going up the other side. I could quite imagine floating down it whilst wearing a very glamorous dress. The large pot in the cabinet is one of a pair by Grayson Perry, the artist and ceramicist. The blue rectangles contain intricate plasterwork and the alcoves are large enough for statues and maybe had them originally.

This huge window is on the landing at the top of the first set of stairs; you can see more plasterwork in the archway. The light is modern, I really liked the effect of the old and the modern together.

As you walk up the sweeping set of stairs this is what you see. A really detailed ironwork balustrade and a balcony. Standing on the balcony you can look out of the window shown in the previous picture. When you walk through the columned archway there are exhibition rooms to the right, left and straight ahead.

This is the really pretty and ornate ceiling which is in the hallway. You can see a glimpse of it in the picture above.

This lovely, ornate, intricate plasterwork is part of a fireplace in one of the exhibition rooms. Can you imagine living somewhere with such a glamorous fireplace!? I love the pale blue, white and gold colour scheme. There was so much to look at.

This shows the details of the doors and doorways upstairs. I really like the archway that goes into an area of amazing ceiling and also I like the glass archway above the door. You can just see the staircase that leads back downstairs, much less grand, I imagine it was the servants staircase.

That is the end of my little tour of the gallery. I really made a conscious effort this time to take in my surroundings, not just the exhibition that I went to see. That way, I thought I would get even more to look at and even more enjoyment from my outing.


  1. What a beautiful building! I am so glad it was rescued from flattening.. I totally agree about the staircase, it is as it was made for dress-posing :D I am thankful for getting to see this, you took us for a gorgeous tour!

    1. I am so glad that you enjoyed the tour Siri. Wouldn't it be lovely if we could all pose on the staircase in our best vintage outfits!?

  2. What a lovely building! Quite plain on the outside, but a real treat inside.

    1. I really wasn't expecting such a glorious inside, it was such a lovely surprise.

  3. That is a wonderful way to approach visiting such a grand and gorgeous location (and really, just about anywhere one might find themselves, come to think of it). You're captured the beauty and history of this elegant building so very well. I felt like I was walking its venerable halls with you through these lovely photos.

    ♥ Jessica

    1. Thank you so much Jessica. It would be fabulous to go and visit somewhere like this with you! I guess this is the next best way!