Most people are not interested in museums. Memories of museums generally tend to be associated with being dragged around them on school trips. Kids are far too young to fully appreciate what a museum has to offer, they much prefer a trip to the nearest theme park! However there are many fantastic museums that people would enjoy. There are also many, many unusual museums as well. Perhaps a staircase museum would be up there on most people’s ides of an unusual museum. Well that’s exactly what there is in Stockport.
Staircase House is a restored townhouse in the town’s historic market place – or a beautifully restored townhouse if you believe Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council!
At the centre of the town house is – unsurprisingly, given its name – a staircase. The staircase is a rare Jacobean cage-newel staircase, so rare in fact that there are only three of its kind in Britain.
Yes the museum is more than just a staircase, the fact the town house was built in the 15th century allows for a tour through the centuries where people can learn how our predecessors lived and how their lives changed throughout the years. It also offers an insight into how the building was repaired after a devastating fire. As if that is not enough history for one place, a café with links back to the 1860s was relocated to Staircase House to provide the refreshments. As long as those links back to the 1860s are not the ingredients, then why not!
If that still is not enough for one venue, there is also a meeting room, which enjoys natural daylight, perhaps they have really embraced our predecessors and done away with electricity in the meeting room. Before the Council say anything, the room does offer all the technological facilities you require for a meeting.
So we have a museum, café and meeting room all growing from a simple staircase. A staircase that is distinctive and rare due to the fact that each newel post extends right up through the full height of the staircase and the bannisters. If you are trying to picture it a newel is the post that supports the handrail. The stairwell is therefore not fully enclosed but it is enclosed in a cage like manner.
So there you have it, a rare staircase has spawned a complete restoration with the help of Lottery funding to provide a unique museum in the heart of one of Britain’s largest towns.
Jed Griffiths of www.pearstairs.co.uk likes to write about unusual staircases to be found across Britain.