Saturday, 5 September 2015

Riddlesden

We try to visit any National Trust properties that the canals take us to, so we've been moored up in Riddlesden, ready to visit East Riddlesden Hall, which was closed on Thursday and Friday.


It's a delightfully quirky building, with a rather quirky history. Much of the quirk derives from the mid-seventeenth century, when the family who moved into the property implemented some of the developments they wanted to make, but were prevented by circumstances from completing them.

When the Hall came into NT ownership in the 1930s it contained just one piece of furniture, so it seems to have been furnished with all sorts of things brought from elsewhere, including some from local museums looking for a place to store stock they had no room for. Unity and continuity are therefore somewhat lacking, but there was lots to fire the imagination.

We got chatting to David Mosley, who met us in the first room and collected our tickets. He was a mine of information about the history of the property, including all the quirky bits. Without him our tour would have been less comprehensible and far less interesting. We talked about the local families who have been in the area for centuries (including his own), and it reminded me of the way Edward Rutherford constructs his stories around a timeline over one or more millennium. Each chapter typically focusses on a particular point in time, and you see the characteristics of the families being perpetuated down the centuries, as they interact with each other.


In that context, David demonstrated the way his thumbs bend – it's an idiosyncrasy of his family, and I'm sure it would appeal to Rutherford.

Whatever the Hall itself may lack is made up for by (a) the obvious affection that the volunteers and staff feel for it, and (b) the way the gardens are managed. They have formal sections and informal sections. They have parts developed particularly with a sensory theme in mind. They have a wonderful herb section, with descriptions of what all the herbs have been used for traditionally. They are clearly used as a local educational resource, and they were a really nice environment in which to eat our picnic lunch.

Finally we went on the riverside walk that takes you on a circular route, partly alongside the river Aire. We passed a cricket match being played on a pitch that has more slope than Lords, with all the quite unique sounds that village cricket generates. We've thoroughly enjoyed our day – it's been well worth the stopover.

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