Warwick Stories and Tips

Exploring Manchester

Coroporation Street pedway Photo, Manchester, England

I had an easy morning and didn't leave the flat until after 11. Got off the bus at St. Peter's Square which is where you will find the Tourist Information Center. There is a lovely central library here, a large round building with lovely stained glass in the entrance lobby. The back of Manchester Town Hall is beside it. I followed the lane between the main Town Hall building and the civic buildings beside it, adjoined by an overhead walkway and came out into Albert Square. The Town Hall was built in 1877 and has a large clock tower looming over the square. There's a smaller replica of London's Albert Memorial here.

I went inside Town Hall, visitors are allowed on the ground floor. The ceiling is low and vaulted like the inside of a cathedral and there was a Police history exhibit with old photos and posters. There are lots of sculptures, statues, busts and friezes decorating the walls and an information desk there if you have any questions.
I went back out behind the Town Hall into the little Peace Park. I turned back towards Castlefield along Peter Street. Just past Deansgate, where Peter Street turns into Quay Street is a pub owned by a Corrie star, Liz Dawn who plays Vera Duckworth. It's called The Old Grapes and as it's lunchtime I decided to go in. The walls inside are covered with photos of Ms. Dawn and various celebrities and Corrie cast members. There's no doubt who owns that pub and by the time I left it was quite busy.

I walked a little further and did some window shopping on Deansgate which is one of the main thoroughfares in Manchester. Down King Street West which is a posh shopping area as I soon found out.

I came along to Manchester Cathedral at the far end of
Deansgate and entered through the side door as instructed. It was cool inside the church, the light filtering thought the wonderfully intricate stained glass windows. The cathedral dates from the 15th C. though some parts were rebuilt and restored after the war because of bomb damage and again, all the stained glass is post war. One chapel is dedicated to therebuilding and the glass window here is called the Fire Window and looks like orange and yellow flames.

You would think that one cathedral interior would look pretty much like the next and in some ways they do but I've been in a lot and I still find each seems to have it's own atmosphere, it's own personality. Some are sparsely decorated, some elaborately so, some have evident loving touches. Some are so inviting that you want to sit and enjoy and some are more businesslike which is sort of how I found this one to be.

The largest Marks and Spencer store is just behind the Cathedral in an area called the Shambles which has a few old buildings but is the site of a lot of construction. The old M&S was destroyed in the mid 90s from an IRA bomb. It's been rebuilt and is bright, modern and huge! It's connected to the Arndale Shopping Mall by an overhead walkway.

Just behind it are two very old pubs, one called the Duke of Wellington. There's an interesting story to these buildings. These buildings have been relocated twice. Once when the Arndale was built. They dug down around the foundations and lifted them and moved them to the other side of the old M&S store. After the bomb went off, they weren't damaged very much but the construction that was planned for the area forced another move to their present location. This time the buildings were taken down brick by brick and rebuilt.

I walked through the mall but really wasn't up for shopping. I found myself back at Picadilly Gardens where the bus terminal is. Decided it was a good a time as any to head back.

We are off tonight for a pub quiz with John, Nikki and Annie. We walked as it was a nice night, down a lovely neighbourhood here in Chorlton, Beech Street, and through an old graveyard to get to the pub which seemed to me to be a bit out of the way. This is the Bowling Green, so called because they actually do have a little bowling green outside it. The quiz was great fun and we took none of it seriously.

Wednesday's excursion was to Ordsall Manor in Salford. This is a very old manor, some of it dating back to medieval and Tudor times that one of my friends had told me about. It looked as if a bus would go right by the door of the manor so I went over to the terminal under the Arndale center to wait. And wait. Luckily there was a bus shelter where this stop was because it was raining and windy. The bus seemed to be a once an hour affair but it never came at its appointed time, apparently stuck somewhere in traffic. I didn't have any more patience so strode off and took a taxi. That's what happens when you have limited patience. The Tramlink would have taken me within a 3 minute walk and taken only 10 minutes to get there! That's how I got back to central Manchester later in the afternoon!

Ordsall Hall's earliest parts date to the late 14th C. It was owned for the first few hundred years by the Radclyffe family. There are only a few rooms open to the public but entrance is free. They cater mainly to school groups and there was a class of children there when I arrived, learning how to do such courtly things as bowing and curtseying across the long oak table in the great hall! There was a tall man dressed in Elizabethan costume, complete with white neck ruff instructing them with a twinkle in his eye.
I went through the Great Hall and into a smaller chamber behind that which was empty. This is the oldest of the rooms and is the Star Chamber, named so because of the gilded lead stars affixed to the blackened beamed ceiling. It's also known as the Lord's Chamber or Great Chamber and it's where the lord of the manor would have done his business though it's also a bedroom. The furniture, bed, desk, chairs are all authentic from various eras between the 15th to 17th C. Parts of the wall are some examples of the oldest surviving wattle and daub walls in England, dating from 1340. There is another room in Italianate design upstairs but it isn't open to the public. There is an Elizabethan lady's dress on a form and a small suit of armour on display. There are swords and an old rifle and the 14th C fireplace still has scars from where swords were sharpened as men gathered in front of the fire.
The costumed guide came in and chatted with me for awhile. It was he that told me all this history. The Great Hall was sparsely furnished, had a fire pit in the middle of the room beside the great oak table and the walls and ceiling are white washed plaster and dark half beams in an elaborate pattern that is mirrored on the outside of the manor in places.

Upstairs there is an exhibit about similar surviving houses from that era and some lovely Jacobean furniture on display. There are three large glass enclosures with displays of Victorian laundry implements, a Victorian school room and a Victorian toy collection. There is also a little picture gallery of photos and prints from the last 30-40 years by local artists and downstairs there is also a Victorian kitchen set up. There is a small area with gifts though most of them are geared to children. I did pick up a couple of postcards.

The sun is out, for a bit anyway and the rain has stopped. I walked to the Tramlink stop. There was a small Tesco's grocery store near the Arndale center and since I had promised I would cook tonight, I went in to find my supplies. Luckily Alan has an electric cooker, not a gas one so nothing burned and nothing blew up! With the way my luck has been running this week, that was a very real concern! Alan is off work the next two days and we're heading to the old spa town of Buxton tomorrow to meet up with a chat room friend, Joanna.

Been to this destination?

Share Your Story or Tip