Up North

I just came back from a nine day trip up to the north of England.

It first started with thee days in Harrogate, staying at a boutique hotel called The Harrogate Brasserie which was very quirky.  It has live jazz every evening, which is very good and we dined at the William and Victoria which has been in Harrogate for over 40 years.

If you go, you must visit Betty’s for afternoon tea, which is a great place.  I visited Fountains Abbey, the largest ruin in the country, which was founded in 1132 by Benedictine monks from St Mary’s in York.  They lived a devout and simple lifestyle. In the 14th Century the monks had to cope with bad harvests and raids from the Scots which led to the collapse of the Abbey.  It closed down in 1539 by order of Henry VIII.

I also visited Skipton Castle which goes back to the 17th Century.  While I was there they were having a demonstration of the food and cooking from 1635 and actors were sitting at the table dressed in mediaeval clothes and eating a traditional meal of those times, demonstrating castle life as it may have been in the Middle Ages during the War of the Roses period.

I then drove to Kettlewell where they made the movie Calendar Girls.  The village hall where they shot the Women’s Institute scene and the Kettlewell store have been used in a number of film productions due to their ancient fittings and furnishings.  The shop was Cora’s tea room in the Calendar Girls movie.

I also visited Hardwick Hall, a 1500s castle with lovely grounds. 

Another must see in that part of the country is the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, a 500 acre outdoor art gallery with fabulous sculptures by people like Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth.

The next stop was three days in Whitby where I stayed in a Tudor Manor House called Bagdale Hall.  Whitby is well known for its jet jewellery and of course the Abbey and St Mary’s Parish Church.  It is well worth the climb up the famous 199 steps to get lovely views and it helps you to keep fit on the way up.

I took a trip on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, a steam railway experience.  Every visitor who travels on the railway helps preserve this historic railway line.  On day 7 I went to Castle Howard on my way to Rowsley, in Derbyshire.

Castle Howard is one of Britain’s finest historic houses and has been in the same family for over 300 years.  In the chapel there are works by pre-Raphaelite artists such as William Morris and Edward Burn-Jones.  There are lavish bedrooms and lovely state rooms. Brideshead Revisited was filmed here, and many other movies.

Rowsley is near Bakewell and I stayed at the East Lodge Country House Hotel.  On day 8 I visited Haddon Hall Manor House with its Tudor and Elizabethan architecture.  There are rare 15th century frescoes in the Chapel of St Nicholas and lovely tapestries on the walls in the house.

The long galley is beautiful.  It is a lovely mediaeval house with great gardens.


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