Saturday, 3 August 2013

Staircase & Stockport

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was meeting some friends in Stockport for the afternoon. It's not generally the first place which springs to mind when planning an outing. However, we're always looking for somewhere new to try and I'd heard about a couple of interesting-sounding museums which were worth investigating. Our destination on this occasion was Staircase House which dates from the 1600s, though there's been a house on the site since the 1400s.

Surprisingly, the House isn't named after its most famous feature but after a cafe, one of the last businesses to operate there - the House has been used both as a family home and as business premises. You might be thinking this staircase looks very new for such an old house, and you'd be right. In 1995, a fire swept through the House and badly damaged a lot of the interior and it's taken them years to restore it.

Carpenters rebuilt the staircase, incorporating as much of the original wood as they could.

The rooms are decorated to represent different periods of the House's life, like this 1650s kitchen.

I really liked this blue dish, complete with fake fish.

One of the best aspects of the house is that there are several interactive elements. In the Counting Room, we practised writing with quill and ink.

In the bedroom, we dressed up in period costume. Well, ok, I did - my friends were less keen on putting on thick wool coats and hats on a very hot day.

Another lovely dish on the chest in the bedroom. Like most of the furnishings and decoration in the House, it's a reproduction which means that you can touch and handle almost everything on your tour round.

 You can also sit on the chairs and be thankful you don't have to sit on hard wooden seats every day. This reproduction was 'dated' 1683. Not the most comfortable, even with this pretty tapestry cushion.

By coincidence, Chickpea and I went to a fete last weekend and, as we passed by one of the stalls, I remarked that one of the chairs on the stall looked very similar to this one. It turned out that the stallholder was the person who made it!

All of the lovely curtains and bed linens were embroidered by volunteers.

They've done such a wonderful job.

A really interesting place to visit. We easily spent over an hour there and didn't even listen to all of the audio guide (which was a bit too long).

Back outside it was still hot and sunny. At the front of Staircase House is the market and the Market Hall. Beautiful Victorian architecture.

There were some lovely stalls and, in particular, this one selling plants. I saw some real beauties and, if it hadn't been such a very hot day, I might have bought a few. As it was, I rationed myself to something from the indoor market which I'll be telling you about next time.

I thought this building toned in beautifully with the awnings on the stalls and had such lovely detailing. Unfortunately, as so many shops in town centres, it was empty. You'll also have noticed that the street around the market isn't exactly teeming with people. However, it was mid-afternoon by this point so maybe the rush happened earlier in the day. I hope so because the market hall in particular is a real gem of a building inside and out, and it would be a shame if it fell into disuse too.

One of the other things I enjoyed about our trip to Stockport was a glass of Dandelion and Burdock. I'll be hunting down some of this brand because it was soooooo good. It was one of my favourite drinks as a child but I haven't had it in years. It made us reminisce about visits from the 'pop man' who used to bring round all kinds of pop in his van. That and the milkman who brought orange in milk bottles. And does anyone remember the craze for homemade ginger beer in the '70s when neighbours would pass on their 'starter' for you to feed up to create your own? Funny the things you remember :)

All in all, we really enjoyed our day out in Stockport and there are some surprisingly pretty parts amongst the urban sprall. We'll be going back in a couple of weeks as we still have a date with the Hat Museum.


Hope you're all enjoying the weekend. I'm having a long one as yesterday was my birthday :) After shovelling potatoes and carrots on a market stall on my 17th birthday, I vowed never to work on my birthday ever again and have pretty much stuck to that ever since!

I had a lovely day and went for dinner (lunch) with Mum and Dad and Chickpea. The place is known for its enormous desserts and ice cream flavours - we all got a different scoop so we could try out as many flavours as possible.

In the afternoon I wandered around in a tiara, only taking it off to mow the lawn.

If only the birthday glow had lasted. Today I suffered the torture of taking Chickpea to look for shoes for the party she's gone to tonight. She ended up going in some shoes she already had - aaghhh! I'm going to pick her up in the early hours so tomorrow will be a quiet day of sleeping and resting. Hope your Sunday is a bit more exciting! x


  1. Looks like a really nice and interesting day out, I'm wondering now what you bought?! Wishing you a very, very happy birthday Julie and glad you are having a lovely weekend, those ice creams look amazing!
    Marianne x

  2. What a wonderful day out and isn't it surprising what lovely details you can find on buildings even in places that you wouldn't expect, but just think what these places would have been like originally, a lot different to our modern day sites! x

  3. Charming town. And tiaras are always fun.

  4. I know nothing about Stockport but it looks as though you had a great day, interesting and fun. I think you should keep your tiara on all week and maybe wear it to work... And happy birthday!! xx

  5. I'm glad you have a lovely birthday :) I've never worked or even been to school on my birthday as it's this month so has always been during the holidays for me! I cannot believe how great you have made Stockport look - wow! I've driven through it so many times and have never had a nice thought about the place, but this post makes it look really tempting and interesting so I might have to give it a chance!

  6. What a wonderful post! I love visiting hidden treasures like Stockport. I am so intrigued by the Dandelion and Burdoch soda that I really must source it here in Melbourne. It took me a moment to realise your photo of the lush folds of ice cream were in fact ice cream. At first glance I thought they were hats! Ha ha! Happy Birthday for last week and I adore the tiara. A must for my next birthday!

  7. Happy Birthday to you, a bit late!!
    This was a great post, thanks so much for sharing!
    That's good how they used as much of that staircase that they could when they restored it, shame that it burned though.
    How clever that you recognized the chair at the stall! Well done!

    I have fond memories of Mars Bars and Milky Bars from England so it was nice to see that photo from the ice cream shop.

    Also, I love the architecture from the Victorians! I remember exclaiming over many buildings in London, when I first met Richard there, and he would say, "But that is not that old, it is just Victorian"!

  8. Belated birthday wishes to you, it sounds like you had a great day.

    Those are ice creams? Wow, I think I'd have the Milky way one :-)

    And I loved seeing the inside of Satircase House through your photos, I really like the bed with the embroidered linen and curtains but my favourite item is that kitchen table. I'd love one like that.