Antiques Roadshow in Halifax: Top Ten Unmissable Heritage Gems
We’re thrilled that the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow will be visiting The Piece Hall in Halifax on Sunday 8th July. The Piece Hall’s immense piazza and golden stone columns provide a gorgeous backdrop to a day of discovering the stories behind the antiquities in the attic - and the heritage centre, independent shops, restaurants, and bars will keep visitors refreshed and entertained while they wait to meet the experts.
If you love the Antiques Roadshow, you’ll love Halifax and the surrounding area of Calderdale in Yorkshire – they are a heritage goldmine. Here are the top ten things not to miss:
Mary, Queen of Scots’ shoes: Bankfield Museum in the model village of Akroydon is a mini-V&A. Housed in a Victorian mansion since 1887, it hosts a fabulous collection of costumes, textiles, and artefacts. The new ‘Shoes’ exhibition showcases the museum’s footwear treasures, from the Duke of Wellington’s boots to Olympic triathlete Jonathan Brownlee’s trainers.
“Old Tristram” at the Halifax Minster: a life-size figure holding the Parish Alms box, he was carved in wood by John Aked in around 1701. There are very few figures of this type in Britain, and the carving represents a real person, who is said to have begged in the church precincts. Halifax Minster is a 900-year old jewel of a building. It is Grade I listed and packed with historical gems including intriguing ancient gravestones, one of the finest medieval font covers in England, and impressive ‘Commonwealth’ windows.
Anne Lister’s travel-writing case: Grade II* listed Shibden Hall dates back to 1420. The Shibden estate on the edge of Halifax includes the Hall and gardens, a social history museum and glorious parkland. The Hall’s most notable resident was prolific diarist Anne Lister (1791 - 1840) - lesbian, socialite, traveller, mountaineer, entrepreneur, and pioneer. This fascinating woman is about to be placed firmly in the international spotlight thanks to a joint BBC/HBO series, Gentleman Jack, written and produced by BAFTA winner Sally Wainwright, which is being filmed on location at Shibden Hall this year (it opens again to visitors 24 July - 2 September).
Halifax Town Hall’s Central Hall: the building was designed by Sir Charles Barry (who also designed the Houses of Parliament), and has been judged one of the most spectacular town halls in Britain. Pop in Monday-Friday 9-5 to admire Victorian craftsmanship at its finest, including a magnificent stained glass dome.
The octagonal walls of Heptonstall’s Methodist Chapel: this gem was one of the first octagonal chapels and was built in 1764. Some say the octagon shape was chosen so there were no corners in which the devil could hide – others, more prosaically, suggest it was to distinguish Methodist Chapels from the established church. John Wesley oversaw its design and construction, and he preached there frequently. It is believed to be one of the oldest Methodist churches in continuous use.
The dragons of the market: the Grade II* listed Halifax Borough Market is a Victorian market hall housing a mix of traditional family butchers and fruit & vegetable stalls which have passed down through generations. Newer stall-holders sell a wealth of products and produce, from Russian tea to Thai noodles, all housed beneath a stunning glass and wrought iron ceiling. See if you can spot the majestic red dragons that support the market’s internal balconies.
Square Chapel Arts Centre pulpit: this wooden pulpit with decorative mouldings was built specially for the Chapel in 1772. Square Chapel Arts Centre is a beautiful red brick Grade II* listed Georgian Chapel, adjacent to The Piece Hall, which is now a thriving centre for arts and culture. Saved from demolition 30 years ago by six dedicated locals, it now runs a packed programme of exciting events and has a fabulous new café/bar.
Rodgers 333 Olympic theatre organ at The Rex Cinema: the Rex in Elland is one of the of the oldest purpose-built, structurally unaltered cinemas in the country. Take a step back in time at this charming, friendly venue, and watch new and classic films complete with interval organist.
Moquette Power Loom: this impressive artefact is a symbol of the importance of wool, carpet and textile industry locally. The Calderdale Industrial Museum in Halifax is a wonderful collection of objects and machines that illustrate Calderdale’s industrial heritage. Many of the remarkable and rare machines are in working order - and there’s plenty for kids: they can experience what it was like to be a child working in the tunnels of a coal mine in the last century or, for the less intrepid, learn about the local manufacture of sweets like Quality Street.
The pediment of Todmorden Town Hall: the astonishing neo-classical Grade I listed Town Hall was a bold statement of intent by our ambitious industrial forefathers. Todmorden used to straddle the border of Yorkshire and Lancashire until it became part of Yorkshire in 1888. The iconic pediment’s carved stonework has two central female figures on a pedestal. The woman on the left represents Lancashire (cotton spinning industry) and on the right, Yorkshire (engineering and agriculture). Underneath the two figures are friezes of the industries coming together to prosper on the border.