Staircase House is, in its origins, a cruck timber building with its earliest known surviving timbers dating, on the basis of dendrochronology, from 1459–1460. Very little is known of the property's early history, though it is thought that it may have been the home of William Dodge who, in 1483, was the Mayor of Stockport. The first residents of whom we are certain were the Shallcross family who owned the House from 1605 to 1730. Members of the landed gentry, with their seat just across the county boundary, in Derbyshire, it was they who, in 1618, installed the distinctive Jacobean cage newel staircase, from which the house takes its modern name. The staircase has some unusual features, such as the carving covering much of the woodwork. The characteristic of a cage newel staircase, after which it is named, is that each of its newel posts extends throughout the full height of the staircase, the four posts and the banisters thus forming a stairwell which is not fully enclosed, but, rather, contained within a cage-like structure. In fact, at Staircase House, at some date before the first surviving descriptions of the staircase in nineteenth century, the newel posts were each sawn through, just below the stringer board and just above the handrail. That may have been done as a response to changing tastes, or possibly to overcome the practical difficulties of moving large objects, such as furniture, about the house.
In its later years in private ownership, the House was used partly as the Staircase Café, until 1989, and, into the 1990s, as storage for Gardner's Green Grocery and Fruit stall which stood in the market, immediately in front of the House itself. The House, including the Staircase, was painstaking restored, using traditional materials, tools and techniques, following a major fire in 1995, the second of two arson attacks on the semi-derelict building. The restoration was undertaken by Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council, after having compulsorily purchased the property, following a long and persistent campaign to save it by a local conservation group, the Stockport Heritage Trust, beginning in 1987. The Trust, local volunteers, argued that the House was a unique survival and should be preserved and, on that basis, it dissuaded the Council from demolishing the building as a dangerous structure as had been previously proposed. Stockport Heritage Trust financed tree-ring dating establishing the date of the earliest remaining parts of the House as 1460. Staircase House offers a unique glimpse into the life of mediæval and renaissance Stockport, the origins of the town, its status as a borough and a market town, and the subsequent stages of the House's development until the 1940s, when it was last used as a private dwelling. Currently the House is beautifully decorated for Christmas. Each room has been themed and tells the story of our Christmas customs and traditions. The exhibitions vary but always with the underlying theme of decor through the ages. This is a truly magical journey through time. A state-of-the-art audio guide recounts the full history of the house and is available in English, French, German, Cantonese and Urdu. There is wheelchair access.
Location : Staircase House, 30/31 Market Place, Stockport SK1 1ES
Transport: Stockport (National Rail). Bus routes 300, 383 and 384 stop nearby.
Opening Times: Tuesday to Friday 13:00 to 17:00
Opening Times: Saturday 10:00 to 17:00. Sunday 11:00 to 17:00
Tickets: Adults £4.75. Concessions £3.50. Children/Carers Free
Tel: 0161 474 4444