Two Day Gentleman Jack LGBT Calderdale Adventure
Image by Craig Shaw Photography
Start your break with a morning visit to Shibden Hall, the home of Anne Lister, and the subject of the BBC/HBO TV show ‘Gentleman Jack’ starring Suranne Jones. Anne Lister (1791-1840) was a remarkable woman: diarist, landowner, entrepreneur, scholar, traveller, mountaineer and lesbian. Her 5-million word diaries are an astonishingly detailed record of politics, religion, weather, social change, industry – and of her personal and sexual relationships. You can still see the Hall as Anne knew it, and view the changes she made to the Estate. ‘Gentleman Jack’ was filmed at Shibden itself, an experience the show’s writer/director Sally Wainwright described as ‘magical’. The Hall, which dates back to 1420, also featured in Channel 4’s Britain's Great Gay Buildings in 2017, and acclaimed novelist Sarah Waters did some beautiful videos about Anne and Shibden for the Historic England’s ‘Pride of Place project’.
Next, head into Halifax town centre (adventurous souls in sturdy shoes can tread in Anne’s footsteps down the old path into town – a rocky pack horse trail. Or you can take the easier new path: Shibden Hall staff can advise on the route and both have great views. It takes about 20-30 minutes to walk, or there are frequent buses from the main road.)
Visit places Anne knew like Halifax Minster, the 900-year-old church where she was baptised, worshipped and was buried, and The Piece Hall, a magnificent 18th century cloth hall. Built in 1779, its spectacular courtyard is now home to some fantastic independent shops, bars and restaurants and a heritage centre.
If the sightseeing hasn’t worn you out, and you fancy a drink and a dance, head to the famous Todmorden Women’s Disco (second Saturday of the month, women only), or try The Village LGBT Show Bar in Halifax (Thu-Sat) and enjoy some old-school camp fun.
No LGBT break would be complete without a visit to bohemian Hebden Bridge, the ‘lesbian capital of the UK’. A proudly progressive and uniquely independent community, this creative, vibrant town offers a wealth of one-off shops, galleries, breweries, restaurants, cafes, wine bars and bakeries for you to enjoy.
In the afternoon, why not stroll along the peaceful canal path, or hire a bike from the station and cycle? Alternatively, the picturesque hilltop village of Heptonstall, perched above Hebden is worth a visit, as are the enchanting woods and tumbling streams of Hardcastle Crags – it’s dog-friendly so perfect if you have a four-legged family member with you.
Try and time your visit to coincide with the joyful festival that is Happy Valley Pride, an eclectic, alternative and inclusive week-long celebration of LGBT+ life for everyone. We'll post the dates of the next festival that can take place ehre, or keep an eye on our What's On page.
Halfway between Leeds and Manchester, handy for rail and road, we’re ideally placed for a great weekend break away.
We look forward to welcoming you to the Calder Valley - as Happy Valley Pride says: Be Here, Be You, Be Proud!