Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Shibden Hall, Halifax

Gaz and Mick exploring the
grounds at Shibden Hall
A couple of old friends and myself had another outing recently and spent a day visiting some local attractions. I’ve known Michael since we were just five years old, I met him on our first day at infant school, then we met Gaz when we both moved up to the same secondary school. We spent our school days together, grew up and went our separate ways – each one of us getting married and having children, and now, fifty five years later, we are still hanging around together. Three, real-life ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ characters.

Stately home
This time our outing was to a six hundred year old medieval timber-framed manor house called Shibden Hall. The house sits in large grounds just outside Halifax and was built in 1420, five years after the Battle of Agincourt (and before anyone says it, no, I wasn’t there. I know I might look old, but I’m not quite THAT old). Many wealthy families have lived in the house over the years and the house has been furnished and decorated to give an accurate taste of life at different periods of the house's history.

Period furniture
Taking a tour of the hall gave us a good insight into what life was like for these well-to-do families. One of the pieces of furniture on display is a huge oak table which was actually built in the house and has stood in the same place ever since. It’s a good thing that TV’s or DVD’s hadn’t been invented back then though because most of the other pieces of furniture looked just a tad uncomfortable. It’s hard to imagine them getting comfortable and settling down for a night in front of the telly (that might have been a bit hard back in the day though, seeing as electricity hadn’t been invented).

Shibden Park
The house itself sits in beautifully restored gardens and estate that forms part of Shibden Park. We spent the afternoon looking around the inside of the house but didn’t get chance to see the rest of the park – it’s huge. We got to see the visitor facilities and have a cuppa in the cafĂ© but there’s a whole range of other attractions that we missed out on. There’s a miniature railway we could have tried which might have been fun, there’s also a boating lake, but if I remember rightly, the last time I was in a rowing boat was on the boating lake in Helston (Cornwall), where I lost my oar and had to climb out of the boat and wade back to shore dragging the boat behind me (to the applause of all those lining the lake).

Shibden Hall provides a great day out though, it’s well worth a visit. For those of you who are perhaps a little more energetic than us three old codgers there’s a pitch and putt course and an orienteering course, lots of woodland and nature trails, and a play area if you’re thinking of taking your children.

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