Thursday, 24 November 2016

Seek and ye shall find...

Research can be a thankless task - especially online. You can spend hours looking through lists of searches containing the word Markenfield (now bear in mind the the Archive & Research Group have identified over 16 possible spellings of Markenfield over the years) and some days the most exciting thing that pops up is a pair of Markenfield Lounge Pants - I kid you not!

But not last week... last week contained one of those rare days when you click on that link and you're transported back precisely 116 year in time to a Great Hall hung as a portrait gallery and faces from the past stare out of the screen at you.

Fast forward to today and a visit from three Volunteers from the Pennine Heritage Digital Archive, who have been lovingly taking care of a collection of photographs taken in 1900 by a Mr George Hepworth. 

Mr Hepworth seemingly worked his way around Yorkshire, photographing historic houses - and how glad are we that he did?!

He donated the glass negatives to the Hebden Bridge Local History Society in 1916 and they were digitised and put online by the lovely people we met today.

We now have 11 (yes 11!) images from 1900 that show the Hall pre-restoration, but as a quite-obviously much-loved and very much cared for family home - home of the Foster family, tenant farmers of the day... and still tenant farmers to this day, living just across the Courtyard in the Farmhouse Wing.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Shhhh... it's Quiet Week!

One of the most-commented upon things in the Hall's Visitor Book is the atmosphere at Markenfield - benign, tranquil - spiritual even.

One of the hardest things to do is to maintain that atmosphere for all to enjoy.

The Hall isn't just a visitor attraction - it is first and foremost a family home, and much-loved family home at that. It isn't Chatsworth, or Harewood, where the family can take to a a private wing of the house for some peace and quiet - the family live in the rooms that the public see, and this quite often turns them into a visitor attraction too!

Don't get me wrong... the family very much enjoy welcoming visitors into their home. But as you may have read in the latest newsletter, the number of guided tours has sky-rocketed over the past 12 years and there hasn't been a week since the beginning of April when we haven't had a tour or a wedding.

Weddings involve an awful lot of preparation and furniture moving - setting up on the Friday and putting back the following Monday. We don't have a Function Room - we use the Drawing Room, or the Great Hall - imagine someone getting married in your Living Room...

And so we have introduced the idea of Quiet Weeks... one week a month where we have no groups, no weddings and no upheaval. The furniture stays where it should be, the tea urn is switched off and the house get to recharge its atmosphere ready for its visitors the following week.

Shhhhh.... it's quiet week....