Visit Yorkshire on a great British staycation. Here are our top ten places to visit whilst using Holdsworth House in Halifax as your holiday base.
1. The ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ Yorkshire Dales
Channel 5’s remake of the classic series All Creatures Great & Small has had excellent reviews and looks like yet another TV programme that will promote visits to Yorkshire. The stunning backdrop of the Dales, where the series is filmed, is jaw-dropping on the small screen: lush green valleys, quaint villages and miles of dry-stone walls. The TV crew chose Grassington as the stand-in for the fictional village of Darrowby. Located in the Southern Dales, Grassington is close to the market town of Skipton and is under 30 miles away or just shy of an hour by car from Holdsworth House and well within reach for a day trip from the hotel.
2. Gentleman Jack’s Shibden Hall
The 2019 and 2020 filming of the joint HBO/BBC TV production Gentleman Jack took place at Shibden Hall in Halifax. Whilst the show dramatised elements of the story of Anne Lister, the film locations remained true to history. In fact, Lister’s home of Shibden Hall (now a museum) played a central role in filming the series.
The BAFTA-nominated TV drama is based on the life of Anne Lister who lived in the 1800s as a landowner, a scholar, a traveller and secretly gay woman. Lister wrote daily in her diaries, which amounted to over five-million words. Much of the entries were written in a code Lister devised to hide her passionate affairs with women she knew and loved.
Shibden Hall is only three miles from Holdsworth House. Tickets should be booked online in advance. Due to the popularity of the TV show, please check opening times before setting off, as filming could be taking place
3. ‘The Railway Children’ Train Station
For another film-inspired trip, take the 20-minute scenic drive from Halifax to the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway at Oakworth. As well as featuring in All Creatures Great and Small, the pretty little Oakworth Station was used to film the 1970 classic, The Railway Children. The vintage steam locomotives are still in use and you can journey the five miles of track and stop at six stations, from Oxenhope to Keighley and back, taking in Bronte Country as you travel. Check the timetable and pre-book tickets before arriving.
4. The Bronte Sisters’ Parsonage and Haworth
A plethora of films and TV shows have been based on the novels of the Bronte Sisters. These literary giants lived in Haworth in the early 1800s at the same time as Miss Elizabeth Wadsworth, a Halifax diarist and philanthropist, lived at Holdsworth House. Although there’s no proof Wadsworth met the Bronte Sisters, her diaries reveal she was acquainted with their father, Reverend Patrick, who preached at the the churches Wadsworth attended.
A 25-minute drive from Holdsworth House takes you to Haworth and the Bronte Parsonage Museum, which was the home to Patrick Bronte, his son Branwell and four of the five Bronte Sisters (Emily, Charlotte, Anne and Maria) as well as Aunt Elizabeth Bronte.
A tour of their home, now a museum, is a wonderful experience. You can see the house as it was when the Brontes lived there, the drawing room where the three novelist sisters would gather to read and write, their notebooks, sketchbooks, clothes and so much more. Haworth itself makes a lovely day trip, with vintage shops and cobbled lanes to meander.
5. Impressive Architecture at Halifax Piece Hall
The Piece Hall, in the centre of Halifax, is an incredible architectural sight and a smorgasbord of boutiques selling gifts, homewares, fashion and delicious treats. The Grade I Listed, sole surviving great eighteenth century northern cloth hall regularly hosts events and art installations in its grand courtyard. It’s somewhere to spend a few hours browsing or to experience incredible events, live music concerts from world-class bands and performers, circus spectacles and street theatre. Seasonal festivities include Christmas markets and fairs, and brilliant food and drink celebrations like Chow Down. There’s an ongoing visual arts and sculpture programme, outdoor film screenings to discover too.
The Piece Hall’s impressive courtyard and pillared shops were painstakingly restored in 2017 with £19million funding. It has proved a beautiful backdrop in major televised events, including the Tour de Yorkshire and the BBC’s Antiques Road Show.
6. Great Art and Sculpture at Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Somewhere completely camera-friendly is Yorkshire Sculpture Park. It’s regularly on the news, showcasing world-class artists and exhibitions. For a brilliant day out, YSP offers 500 acres of dog-friendly parkland, over 80 outdoor modern and contemporary sculptures to view at any one time, indoor exhibitions and events from the world’s top artists like Damien Hirst, plus there’s a cafe and a shop. It’s the perfect place to take a picnic or a Holdsworth House takeaway afternoon tea. It’s easy to find too, just minutes from Junction 38 of the M1. The drive from Holdsworth House takes around 40 minutes (30 miles).
7. A Utopian Vision: Salts Mill
Philanthropist Sir Titus Salt created Salts Mill near Bradford as a step towards his Utopian dream in the mid-1800s. Drive there from Holdsworth House in 25 minutes to discover the Mill’s incredible history and architecture that now houses galleries with original David Hockney artwork, quirky shops, a fabulous book store and delightful eateries. Check the opening times before visiting as they changed during mid-2020.
8. Impressive Halifax Minster
Visit Halifax Minster for its beautiful stained-glass windows or the font where Anne Lister of Shibden Hall was baptised, or her tombstone. The Lister family vault was at the west end of the Minster’s Holdsworth Chapel. The Minster is open daily from 12noon – 4.00pm and runs regular services. You can walk to the Minster from The Piece Hall and there are lots of little car parks nearby, which are handy.
If you’re an Anne Lister fan, we recommend you visit Halifax Central Library too, where you can see actual copies of Anne Lister’s diaries. You can access The Piece Hall from the library – so you can kill three birds with one stone!
9. Discover Something New at Eureka!
Whilst in Halifax town centre, if you have you children in tow then pay a visit to Eureka! Especially good if it’s raining, Eureka! is the National Children’s Museum. This large, indoor centre is as little as a few hours to a full day’s outing, depending what you have in mind. It’s educational, informative, great fun with a wealth of hands-on activities. There’s a huge sandpit outdoors if the sun is shining and it is right next to the train station with bags of pay and display parking.
10. Leeds’ Art & History
Leeds Art Gallery offers you collections of modern and contemporary British art and sculpture in the heart of the city. You can also visit the adjacent Henry Moore Institute for more sculpture and exhibitions. They’re both free to enter and door-to-door from Holdsworth House the galleries are a 40-minute drive. Once parked you have the city at your feet. There are some wonderful shopping arcades, a large John Lewis and Harvey Nichols for upmarket retail therapy.
If you’re on a culture trail, the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds is the huge National Museum of Arms and Armour. Again, it’s free to enter and has fantastic interactive exhibitions, live jousting and an immense collection to see. This is a fabulous way for the family to spend several hours and the hugely educational displays walk you through the history and politics of wars from around the world.