Sunday, August 14, 2011

East Riddlesden Hall, or Keighley's Old Home

Saturday we went on another excursion. Taking advantage of our National Trust membership, we drove to the town of Keighley to see the East Riddlesden Hall.

The estate was first settled in the 7th century, though the existing structures date back to the 14th century at the earliest. The hall underwent many renovations, most especially by James Murgatroyd, who built the barn and the bothy as well as substantially remodeling the house. Being a Royalist in a Parliamentarian area during the British Civil War hurt his business and he did not have enough funds to complete renovations. The estate began to fall into disrepair over the years until it wound up in the hands of the National Trust, which has been restoring it bit by bit since gaining possession in 1934.

I'm sure this bit of history has left you with many questions. I will answer the ones I can anticipate in a random and haphazard manner:

First, what is a "bothy"? It's a separate building where the farm hands and other workers on the estate would live. It has been renovated into the gift shop/entrance downstairs and the tea shop upstairs. The tea was quite good and scones were tasty.

Bothy on right; house to the left with rose window above the door

Cool ceramic clotted cream container!

In case you can't read it, the sign signs to look out for the low beam!

So you should definitely bother with the bothy!

Another question you might have is "What about the duck pond out front?" We did visit the duck pond before the house opened (we arrived about 9:30 and the house doesn't open until 10:30). Unfortunately we weren't foresighted enough to bring some bread with us, but a nice gentleman and his daughter shared some slices with us. Here are the children enjoying the ducks:

Excitement is building for kids and ducks alike!

Jacob uses bread (or possibly The Force) to influence the ducks

Lucy uses sweetness to charm the ducks, the sweetness of bread

Jacob enjoyed the fun game of chasing the ducks back into the pond. The ducks were acquiescent.

You might also ask, "Surely feeding ducks didn't take a whole hour, did it?" You would be correct. We did wander a little bit through the town and discovered the Leeds and Liverpool Canal (previously seen here), which had more ducks. Jacob said, "I need to scare ducks back into the canal, please!" We acquiesced.

Feeding the ducks

Scaring the ducks
By this point we had killed enough time to get into the house, so you'll next ask, "What's the inside of the house like?" The tourable part of the house (i.e. the part that is still standing) is quite nice. When the house was donated to the National Trust, it was almost empty. The only thing in the house was a chest used for storing grain. Everything else is from various donors and various periods. Some of the interesting things we discovered were the following:

The cradle in the Great Chamber (think master bedroom) had a few nobs on the side that we asked about. The guide explained that, since it was a farm with lots of animals running around, the nursemaid or mother would wind cords or rope across the top of the cradle in a crossing pattern. Mostly it kept the cats out. This use of the cord was the origin of the children's string game Cat's Cradle, played in England and America.

The cat's not in the cradle, nor a silver spoon

The trundle bed in the Yellow Porch room (with the rose window at the back of the house) had no mattress, showing how they would use ropes as a box spring. The mattress would go on top of this. Every night the sleeper would have to tighten the ropes to keep them from sagging. Hence the expression "Sleep tight."

Or, it was the ultimate Cat's Cradle game!

The house did have indoor heating and plumbing. Well, not plumbing but at least a fancy chamber pot:

It's important to keep the room with the toilet warm
This massive fireplace was just cool:

This other fireplace has an inscription believed to be from Psalm 144, in praise of daughters as the cornerstone of a family.

Lucy would agree with the sentiment if she could read it
You might also ask, "Where have I heard that name Murgatroyd before?" Perhaps you are familiar with "Heavens to Murgatroyd!", an exclamation made popular by Snagglepuss in The Yogi Bear Show, a popular 1960's American children's cartoon. The phrase was first used in Meet the People, a 1940's American comedy film. The writers of the film were probably aware of Gilbert and Sullivan's Ruddigore and got the name from there. Read more about the expression here.

Someone might ask about the barn. The barn dates back from the 17th century and is the best example of such a structure extant. The inside is quite spacious and has many old vehicles and farm implements on display.

An unassuming but large structure

Early version of a minivan

A large plow

The younger among the readers will ask, "What about the playground?" The quite fabulous play area behind the bothy was a big hit with Jacob and Lucy, as you can clearly see. Jacob loved the obstacle course and went through it about ten times.

Obstacle courses are always fun

So are slides!

If you have any other questions, feel free to ask. I'll answer what I can with what I know, what I can research, or what I can make up.

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