Sunday, 16 October 2011

Red House Museum, Gomersal

Red House Museum
The three ‘old codgers’ went on another day trip recently. The last couple of weeks that we had ventured out the weather had been glorious, so on our latest outing we decided to have a picnic. Our intention was to visit the Red House Museum in Gomersal, thinking that we would be able to find somewhere suitable for our picnic along the way. That’s not quite how it happened though.

We couldn’t find anywhere suitable where we could pull over and eat so we headed straight for the museum. By the time we got there the sun had gone in and it had started raining. It was just a slight drizzle, but nonetheless, not quite the sunshine we had hoped for. The only place we found where we could sit and eat our lunch was on a bench in the children’s play area. There was a mother and her children a short distance away who must have thought the same as us, that we’d have a picnic somewhere, but the sun let us all down. We didn’t even get to finish our lunch, thanks to an over-friendly wasp that wouldn’t leave us alone.

The Reading Room
We put our lunch bags back in the car and went to have a look around the museum, called the Red House museum simply because it is built with red bricks. It was built in 1660 and was home to the Taylor family who were cloth merchants and manufacturers. Mary Taylor, daughter of the house in the 19th century, was a close friend of Charlotte Bronte, who visited often, featuring the house as ‘Briarmains’ in ‘Shirley’.

Red House still looks very much the same as it would have done back in the 1830’s. Each of the period rooms, the parlour, the stone-flagged kitchen with its Yorkshire range, the dining room with its stained glass windows, the reading room, and the bedrooms, takes you back in time to see how they lived way back then.

The Master Bedroom
There are a couple of restored outbuildings in the grounds, one of them being a large barn where there is an exhibition called ‘The Secret’s Out’, where you can explore Charlotte Bronte’s Spen Valley connections and her friendships with Mary Taylor and Ellen Nussey. One part of the exhibition said that when the young ladies of the 1830’s were looking for spouses, they used to look for the older gentlemen with plenty of money (I suppose that counts me out then).

The second outbuilding is a restored cart shed where there is a ‘Spen Valley Stories’ exhibition. Here there are pictures and mementoes of schooldays, Teddys Boys, dance marathons, and street parties, all courtesy of the local residents. There was a very knowledgeable lady there who was able to tell us about the displays in more detail, making our visit even more enjoyable.

Red House museum is only a small museum, it’s basically a house recreated in 1830’s style, so it didn’t take us long to get around it. We still had plenty of time left so we found another stately home further down the road. I can’t remember the name of this one but as they wanted to charge a ridiculous entrance fee it doesn’t really matter as we never went inside. We did find a bench in the grounds though where we were able to sit and finish our picnic.

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