August 1st is Yorkshire Day, celebrating everything Yorkshire within its traditional boundaries.
As these were established over a thousand years ago, I thought Yorkshire Day would have been celebrated for almost as long. When me and Mum looked it up on the computer, however, we found that it was first celebrated in 1975 by the newly-founded Yorkshire Ridings Society in Beverley as a protest against the reorganisation of local government which had taken place the previous year. The old administrative districts of the East, North and West Ridings had disappeared on April 1st 1974 and been replaced by districts called North, South and West Yorkshire, plus North Humberside. Even worse, some parts of Yorkshire found themselves in a different county altogether. Some even ended up in Lancashire…
Yorkshire Day gradually went from being a simple protest to a celebration of all things Yorkshire and is now marked by a huge civic procession of Lord Mayors, Mayors, Chairmen of Councils and Town Mayors, all in their ceremonial robes, at a different town each year, chosen by The Yorkshire Society. This year it was Whitby.
Me and Mum didn’t go quite so far, however. Instead we went with our lovely friends from Red Bus Days Out to visit Shibden Hall and Halifax, which are only a few miles over the hills from where we live.
Shibden Hall was our first stop. Set in a beautiful park with wooded areas and open spaces, a boating lake and well-maintained formal gardens, the Hall dates back to 1420, though there have been many additions and alterations since that date.
Though Mum had been there in the distant past before I was born, she’d never been inside the house and so we made our way there first. As you can see from our photos, it’s traditionally furnished, with some of the furniture dating back for many centuries.
Mum was especially interested in the main room which was wood-panelled and two storeys high, with a lovely stone-mullioned window at one side and a staircase leading to the upper rooms at the other. This is partly as she imagines the main room of the house in her next-but-one novel, Master of Wuthering Heights, which she plans to launch on Yorkshire Day next year.
Over the centuries, Shibden Hall has had several owners, but the most famous of them is Anne Lister (1791-1840) who inherited the estate from her aunt in 1836 and used the income she earned from its coal-mines and quarries, as well as from the rents from her tenants, to improve the Hall and also go travelling. She kept detailed diaries of her lesbian love affairs, as well as of her business dealings and her travels. The diaries amount to around 4,000,000 words, some of which were written in code, which has since been translated, and in 2019 they formed the basis for a television serial, Gentleman Jack, which was written by Sally Wainwright and starred Suranne Jones as Anne Lister.
After looking round the house and its garden, we got on the land train which took us back down through the woods to the cafe. There we saw this fabulous carving of a lion and had a very welcome fruit scone with jam and cream and a pot of tea, before getting back on our bus and going the short distance into Halifax.
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