A pilgrimage to Shibden Hall

I have wanted to visit Shibden Hall for some time, I have known of Anne Lister and her coded diaries for quite a while.  When the TV series 'Gentleman Jack' was announced I knew I had to watch it and hoped I would not be disappointed.  As a great fan of the actor Suranne Jones and the writer Sally Wainwright I knew this was unlikely and of course I was not.

Fast forward a year or three and I was going to Halifax for a sewing retreat.  Why I had forgotten Shibden was near Halifax is unclear, but as we drove past Shibden myself and my daughter shouted words to the effect 'bloody hell we didn't know we were going to be this close, we must visit!'.

A few weeks later my daughter says 'how about we go to Shibden for Mothers' Day?, well I am not going to say no to that am I?  The day arrives, my sat nav become possessed by some sort of demon by trying to send us down closed roads and along narrow oubliettes that were frankly, just uncalled for.  It should be a very straightforward journey from where we live.  Anyhoo, some stressful moments and many expletives later we arrive in time for lunch at the cafe.  I can recommend the steak pie and chips.  I may have foolishly uttered the words "do you think it will come with gravy?".  I was in Yorkshire, of course it did.  Whilst sitting in the cafe by our table was an information board that showed a picture of the wildness garden.  I was immediately obsessed, we had to find that garden.
photo of information board 

Lunch over we started to wander the park before making our way to the Hall itself, where a lot of the filming of the series had taken place.  

The park has a large boating lake, a children's adventure playground and a miniture railway.  Sadly the railway was not running as I might have been tempted to go on it.  There was this rather lovely cascade at one end of the lake.
I loved the sweep of the rill taking the water back down to the river.

The Hall itself dates from the 1500s and has been through several iterations since.  Much remains of the time that Anne lived (1791-1840)  and she made many alterations to the Hall.  On arrival at the Hall itself we were greeted by the Shibden Lion.

The Hall is grand and yet not that grand if that makes sense?  The information boards tell you how floors were raised and lowered, how rooms were used for one thing and then another.  It is a home that has evolved through the centuries.
They are rightly proud of Anne's legacy.
With some of the elements from the TV series on display.  Not everything could be filmed at the Hall as many of the rooms are really quite small, not big enough for a film crew.
The floors and ceilings are not quite aligned in many rooms.  I had a real moment of vertigo when walking along the short passageway to Anne's bedroom.
When looking out of her bedroom window we could see lines made into the formal lawn.  It was clear that something would be planted into these lines at some point. 
The incredibly useful information boards gave some clue as to how the lawn had looked in the past so I imagine this is what it looks like in the summer.  We are back in Halifax in June, now we know the way we may pop in.
Outside of the Hall there is fascinating stuff.  This looks like it must have a purpose.  There might have been glass possibly on the rail you can see to the right of the photo?
It has fascinating stonework and we wondered if it could have been heated?
Continuing to the rear of the Hall there is a Rural Museum and a display of stonework presumably from the Hall.

This one is very interesting - what wentt through the hole?  Was is a pipe/gutter?
And this one, where had it been fitted at some point?
There are carts,
recreated rooms,
horse wheels for turning machinery,
We spent far longer in outside the Hall wandering these areas than we expected to. 

Did we find the Wilderness Garden?  Of course we did.

It is not the same as when first created by the look of things, but you get the idea of it.  

When looking at the pond in front of it we noticed steps.  We wondered if it had been a dipping pond maybe?

We had the most fabulous day.  We paid homage to Anne Lister and her memory and to the role model that she has become.  She is a very important person in lesbian history and her story matters.

Take care and be kind.

For more from the Blackberry Garden follow me on Twitter X  Facebook and Instagram