Since mum dropped me of a Moggi’s place I didn’t get to join in the cultural fun today. Not that I am complaining of course as I had a run and play at the park before she set off and I also got spoiled rotten while being at Moggi’s. I was a gem (aren’t I always), charmed her and her boyfriend, got to ride in their car, went for another run in the park. Pretty darn lucky, that’s for sure.
My Anne Lister day started at the Bankfield museum in Halifax. Signs to this museum, and other places of interest, are well marked all over Halifax. However, when you listen to your car’s satnav…
Anyway, got there at around 11 am and the place was already rather busy, hardly any parking spaces left. Entrance to the museum is free but donations are always welcome, as is stopping by their café and/or museum shop.
As I walked up the stairs i was greeted by the Gentleman Jack banner, which brought a smile to face.
Not all costumes where there of course but a good part of the costumes of Season 1 and 2, and how exquisite did they look! So much detail, so much fabric.. those corsets! Anne Listers (the darker, not fluffy ones) looked very appealing to try on. However, I may needed to crack a rib or two to fit into them. Tom Pye was, is the amazing talented costume and set designer. Besides costumes, there were some jewellery and other accessories (hats, which truly were pieces of art).
Most people stuck to this one room, I however went into some of the others to see the next exhibition about the around Shibden Hall (which I was about to visit next). It gave you a deeper look into who owned and managed Shibden Hall over the years, be it before and after Anne Lister’s death in 1840.
I didn’t have enough time to stay and see the other’s as I had a fixed entry slot into Shibden.
I didn’t leave the museum without buying something from the shop of course. Some fine books about Anne Lister are now waiting to be read. Very soon.
Shibden hall was next! And how much I was looking forward to this visit! Seeing the exterior did something to me, but to now actually go inside the home of this amazing woman!
Some of the rooms have been altered after her death, but Anne did a lot of alterations, and above all extensions herself, mainly to please and comfort her wife Ann Lister – Yes, that era is known for many Ann(e)s.
The tour started in the kitchen, which was very small compared to the seize of the entire house. It was dominated by a huge fireplace. One thing I noticed was that the ceilings were very low, in most of the rooms really. One way of keeping this enormous house warmish. That would not have been easy without central heating. Even now, on a warm day it was rather chilly inside.
As you can imagine not many items from her era survived the test of time. This is definitely so for the personal items belonging to Anne Lister. What did remain were her diaries, a total of 26, starting from the age of 15 when she experienced her first relationship with a woman. A large part of those diaries were written in a secret code – a combination of Greek & Algebra. It wasn’t until Helena Whitbread was able to translate them, that the extent of her relationships was revealed.
Anne Lister was much more than just your first modern British lesbian. She successfully , be it by the finances of her wife Ann Walker, ran an estate, was a fantastic businesswoman, much to the displeasure of many a businessman in the neighbourhood.
Anne Lister was also the very first person (male or female) to climb Mount Vignemale in 1838. First, non local that is. She had to fight for that titel as a certain Prince de la Moscowa claimed that achievement, what being male! This was cleared after some time. If you want to read up about this achievement, do go and read this website.
There is so much more to be told about this remarkable woman. At the end of this blog I’ll list some more website for those of you who are interested.
Back to Shibden Hall though. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.
After leaving Shibden Hall I had some left to visit Halifax Minster. It is here where Anne Lister’s remains were laid to rest. It took her wife Ann Walker about 6 months to bring back Anne’s body to Halifax after her death in Russia in September 1840. She had been bitten by a fever carrying tick, leading to an early death at the age of 49. April 1841 she was buried at Halifax Minster. Where exactly, is still a mystery because her body was not found underneath the grave stone. Here you can find more details.
I had one more place to visit on my quest for Anne Lister: the Gentleman Jack statue. It was placed in Halifax’ Piece Hall. Unfortunately for me, the statue had been placed in storage because of Summer festivities in the Hall.
Some interesting websites (do send me links of other interesting sites about AL).