On Sunday 8 July 2018 the BBC descended on The Piece Hall in Halifax to film an exciting episode of The Antiques Roadshow. Being so close by — and since Holdsworth House dates from 1633 and is filled with curiosities — we knew we’d be in with a good chance of turning up with something of interest.
THE WITCHES CUPBOARD
With plenty to choose from in safe storage it was, surprisingly, a rather plain item, which has been shrouded in mystery, that caught the eye of the antique experts. Since 1963 the Holdsworth House Hotel ‘witches cupboard doors’ have hung in the restaurant and been a familiar site to regular diners and guests, even commented upon by John Lennon when he stayed here on his birthday in 1964.
The large doors, which are probably oak, were acquired by the Pearson family (owners of Holdsworth House) from an antique dealers in Bakewell around 1962. Unusually, the doors were not on display for sale, they were rescued by the Pearsons after being used by builders on the site as a cement-mixing board!
INTEREST AND INTRIGUE
Measuring over a metre tall and with curious masonic symbols (or so we thought) the doors are very heavy. Once the BBC cited an interest in featuring them on the Antiques Roadshow, the doors were carefully taken down off the wall and shipped to The Piece Hall for the day of filming.
We’re not at liberty to say much, but we were delighted that antique expert Lisa Lloyd said they were “one of the most interesting items she had seen all year.” She certainly helped us unravel the story of the doors’ use and the meaning of their symbols.
AS SEEN ON TV
It’s not the first time these humble cupboard doors have appeared on the small screen. They were captured during filming of the BBC’s comedy drama Last Tango in Halifax (episode 5, series two) when filming took place in the restaurant for a number of scenes.
VISIT AND FIND OUT MORE
Considering “they’re in very good condition for their age,” the doors were carefully put back in their usual spot in the restaurant by our team the next day. If you’re interested to know more, you’ll have to wait and see — as we will — if we make the final cut of The Antiques Roadshow when it airs in 2019. Or come along for a drink or a bite to eat at Holdsworth House and have a look for yourself, we might even reveal what we now know!