Elizabeth Gaskell's house damaged after lead theft

Josselin Hill, of the Manchester Historic Building Trust, speaks of the devastation caused by the lead thefts at Elizabeth Gaskell's house

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Thieves have stolen lead from the former home of Victorian novelist Elizabeth Gaskell, causing extensive damage to the property.

The Grade II listed villa in Plymouth Grove, Victoria Park, Manchester, was given a £750,000 restoration last year.

Volunteers discovered most of the roof had been ripped off over the weekend, allowing water into the house.

Josselin Hill, trustee of Manchester Historic Buildings Trust, said the volunteers were devastated.

She said: "It took us over six years to raise the money for the house to be refurbished and for this to happen so soon after we re-opened was very upsetting for us all."

Ms Hill said the £750,000 had focused on restoring the exterior of the building.

The trust was hoping to put in a bid for restoring the interior, expected to cost more than £2m, before the recent damage which could cost £250,000 to repair.

The remaining lead is being removed from the roof, for fear of further thefts, and a temporary roof is being constructed, she said.

Gaskell wrote most of her novels in the house from 1850 until her death in 1865.

Authors including Charles Dickens and Charlotte Bronte are known to have visited and stayed at the house.

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