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City Art Galleries (Manchester)
Member Name: Shazzy
City Art Galleries (Manchester)
Date: 02/07/01, updated on 02/07/01 (41 review reads)
Advantages: Free admission
Disadvantages: Not enough information
A few weeks back, daughter no. 2 and I were out giving the dogs a run in Wythenshawe Park. It was the first time we’d been there, and although we knew it was large, we hadn’t expected to come across a half-timbered Tudor house in the middle of it.
On closer inspection, we found that Wythenshawe Hall now houses an art gallery, so we decided to return another day, when daughter no. 1 would be with us, and take a look around.
We went today.
As an art gallery, part of Manchester City Art Galleries, I can’t say I was impressed. Sure, there were some old paintings there, but there was too little information about them to hold my interest. Daughter no. 1, who’s probably more interested in art than me, also found it something of a disappointment.
The house itself was interesting though, and the Tudor section dates back to 1540. That’s a long way back!
Evidently, the house was built by one Robert Tatton. The house remained in the same family up until 1926, when Ernest Simon, then Lord Mayor of Manchester, and his wife, bought the house and donated it to the people of Manchester. What an extraordinary thing to do. It’s sound as if they were probably very nice people. You’d have to be to give a house like that away wouldn’t you?
The house has been extended several times over the years so it’s a hotchpotch of styles. I’ve no idea which styles are represented, I don’t know enough about early building styles to be able to even make a guess, but just by looking at the front of the building you’re left in no doubt as to which parts are extensions. I found that just gave the place a charm of its own. Somewhat disorganised you could say, rather like me.
I would have liked to explore the entire house, but unfortunately only the main part of the hall, the Tudor part, is open to the public. But with free admission, you can’t really complain.
The old wood carvings were impressive, and the furnishings made me realise just how comfortable my old three-piece suite actually is!
On the second floor there are some visible beams in one of the walls. If you look closely, you can see traces of graffiti on them. No, don’t worry, some little tyke hasn’t been writing all over them with felt tip. They were made by the workmen who built the original house! They doodled their patterns on to beams that had been taken when another properly, dating back to medieval times, was demolished, and the timber re-used to build Wythenshawe Hall.
Behind the house is a tree and shrub garden. Walking through this small wood is enchanting. I’ve no idea how many varieties are represented, but it felt as though every tree that can grow in our climate must have been there. There were certainly a good few varieties I’d never seen before. There were lots of shrubs, but the huge rhododendron and azalea were my favourites. The explosions of colour they produced amongst the cool green of the trees was dazzling.
The park’s also well tended, with a visitor’s center where the wardens are helpful with information about the park and hall, and happy to answer your questions.
The whole thing made for a lovely afternoon out and I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t cost me a penny. No, sorry…. It cost £1 to park the car. But what’s a pound for an afternoon of relaxation in fascinating, historic surroundings?