Embroidery excitement at East Riddlesden Hall

Last weekend it was my granny’s birthday so as a birthday treat me and mum took her for a day out. We decided to go to East Riddlesden Hall because mum had visited before and really liked it but neither me nor granny had ever been.

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The house is 17th century and was a family home for many years, built and owned by the Murgatroyd family . When it came to the Trust it did not have a collection so most of the items in the hall have come from elsewhere, but there are many really interesting objects there, and loads of beautiful Jacobean embroidery!

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Although located in a very suburban area in Bradford the hall is surrounded by green fields and we were lucky that the weather was really sunny for our visit so every thing looks very picturesque. As you walk up the drive there are lights hanging off iron stands with hearts on, very cute!

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Only part of the hall still stands, with only one wall remaining of the further wing.

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There was a beautiful ornately carved bed in the first bedroom we came too. The volunteer told us that she thinks the decoration on the bed was inspired by a rhyme often told to children. The rhyme goes:

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,

Bless the bed that I lie on.

Four corners to my bed,

Four angels round my head;

One to watch and one to pray

And two to bear my soul away.

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There are found angles on the wooden canopy of the bed, looking down on whoever was sleeping there, and four figures stand on the headboard, looking down towards the foot of the bed. Could these figures have been carved to fit the rhyme and keep the occupant sleeping soundly. I really like this idea, it’s a sweet notion.

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Just off the bed was a wash room with a surprising feature, a huge window that wouldn’t be out of place in a church.

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This bed was also very beautiful, if you ignore the rather obvious airbed under the bed cover. The black-work bed spread was made for the Trust in the 1960’s  and the crewel work bed hangings were embroidered in 1986 . These modern textiles follow the theme of embroidery through the ages that inhabits the hall.

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In this same room was this very ornate brass clock. It is in my ‘Treasures from the National Trust’ book ans that tells me it was made in 1685 by clockmaker Thomas Dyde.

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The landing room was used as a place the family would sit together after dinner and drink and talk. I love the idea of a family sitting around together in this space, talking until late in the night and then heading off to their rooms as they get tired. I imagine it to be like us at re-enactment, sitting round the fire and then heading to our tents surrounding the circle.

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There was a lot of the embroidery that I liked but these were some of my favorite pieces. I love the dress on this lady.

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This stunning little box, featured in ‘Treasures from the National Trust’ dates from the late 1600’s. The craftsmanship is outstanding! I also liked it’s personal display case, keeping the delicate raised work dust free whilst still allowing visitors to appreciate it’s beauty.

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In the green bedroom was spotted this rather nifty little embroidery device. It is a 19th century bobbin stand and I found myself thinking that I would quite like one of these myself!

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There were also some very ornate plaster ceilings, and I do love a pretty ceiling. Running throughout the hall was a trail to discover the origins of common phrases. In the Dining Room, where there was a very nice plaster ceiling I learnt one that really tickled me.

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The plaster for ceilings was originally mixed with beer, so on a hot day when the workers were thirsty there would have been a large supply of beer available to them. It is said you can see the bits of ceiling done in the morning and those done at the end of the day, as the designs had a tendency to get wobblier as they day went on, due to the beer. This is where the term ‘getting plastered’ comes from!

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In the other room with a very nice plaster ceiling was also a replica trundled bed made by NT furniture conservators Tankerdale that visitors are allowed to try. Of course I had to have a go, and found it quite comfy really, better that the hiking air beds we used to use camping anyway!

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Even though not all the collection is not hereditary to the hall the rooms felt really cosy, and you could imagine them having been lived in. The hall still feels like a family’s home, a very beautiful home for a very lucky family!

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After looking round the hall we had a walk in the gardens. I just could not get over how lovely the weather was, the sun was really shining and the sky so blue!

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The room cards while basic looking had some very interesting information on them, particularly the objects focused ones. Shame the story didn’t touch on the rather scandalous elements of the families history as I think that might have made for very interesting reading. However I understand it’s not suitable for all pallets especially as it was salacious enough to make the River Aire change course to avoid the family!

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It was an absolutely lovely day out, the staff were really friendly and on our was out we even met the mouse of the manor! I would very much recommend a visit to this charming family home, and hopefully you will get the same amazing weather we did!

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