‘Bradford Live’ – opening 2024

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From Hospital to Hotel – Middleton’s York

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Yorkshire’s other literary village

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Castle Hill near Huddersfield – a scheduled monument with over 4000 years history

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Harlow Carr Reunited

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Yorkshire's Best Guides

Yorkshire's Best Guides

Yorkshire's Best Guides are those who have qualified to receive the prestigious Blue Badge from the Institute of Tourist Guiding

Gentleman Jack is back! We are excited to be hosting two costumes as worn by Suranne Jones and Sophie Rundle from 24 July to Sunday 4 August. They will be on display in the pew used in filming. Come and visit them any time from 11am to 4pm daily. Free (donations welcome).

Visit York University of York Events York Mansion House
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If you plan to visit the Settle Flowerpot Festival, watch your speed! ... See MoreSee Less

If you plan to visit the Settle Flowerpot Festival, watch your speed!

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6000 years, sheep, monks, parliament and milk: sheep have influenced our language, laws, and finances. Records show that wool was bought and sold in Babylon as early as 4000 BC. Babylon actually means “land of wool”. The Bible includes many references to sheep, and they feature in ancient legends such as the Golden Fleece.

Wild sheep were used for food and clothing. The Britons were already farming sheep when the Romans invaded, bringing with them larger sheep with finer, whiter wool.

The Vikings brought their own breeds of black-faced sheep with horns. These were the ancestors of Swaledale, Blackface, and Herdwicks. Britain’s woollen industry and wool exports steadily grew. The largest flocks of sheep belonged to the monasteries and abbeys. By the 1100s wool was the driving force of the English economy. The Woolsack became the seat for the Lord speaker in the House of Lords. King Edward III introduced it as a reminder of England's key source of wealth and sign of great prosperity. It was largely thanks to King Edward III that the wool trade prospered. A great deal of British wool was exported to Flanders to be made into cloth, and then imported back into Britain.

The Flemish weavers were apparently discontent with their working conditions. In 1331 Edward III invited around 50 Flemish master weavers to settle in Britain with the proviso that they must each take on at least one English apprentice. They taught the arts of textile processing and added value to the woollen trade.

Over the next few years the textile industry flourished. The Cisterian monks in abbeys such as Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal, National Trust and Jervaulx Abbey were renowned for their sheep farming. Sheep were crucial to them: they used wool for clothing and bedding and sold it at market alongside lamb, cheese and butter. They even used sheep skins for parchment.

By 1300, Fountains Abbey was the leading producer and exporter of wool. Their extensive lands stretched over to Malham Moor. Fountains Abbey had an enormous wool warehouse, a fulling mill and dye-vats. The monks at Jervaulx Abbey were the first to produce Wensleydale cheese made from ewes milk.

Wool became an increasingly valuable commodity and was traded internationally, with a very strong market in Italy. The richness of the ecclesiastical architecture of the abbeys built during this time can still be seen.

After Henry VIII seized the lands of the monasteries, much of the land was sold off and let to local people. Lowland pastures and arable land were eventually enclosed, leaving the upland hills as pastures for grazing sheep. The common lands were used in “stints”, allowing farmers to graze a number of cattle each year, hence the expression, “have you done your stint?”

Knitting and producing woollen goods was an important way to supplement household income. In the 16th century, men, women and children used thick, greasy “bump” wool to make hard wearing knitted items such as jumpers, stockings and caps in the areas around Richmond, Hawes and Dentdale. In Dentdale they were known as the ‘terrible knitters of Dent’. There were a large number of hand knitters in Swaledale and Wensleydale. Gayle Mill supplied much of the wool yarn. Swaledale Woollens in Muker still employs many local hand knitters.

At Farfield Mill, Sedbergh wool was carded and spun, and then sent out to be knitted. Completed goods were dyed and fulled back at the Mill. It later brought in looms and specialized in producing horse blankets. The industrial revolution began around 1750 with inventions that speeded up processes such as spinning and weaving. These tasks moved from cottage industries to factories, particularly in Leeds, Bradford and Huddersfield. The 1761 Turnpike Act meant that some roads were improved. Railways were built on the fringes of the Dales, making it easier to transport wool and woollen goods to the ports and to other markets.

From about 1780, improvements in water wheel design meant that streams and rivers could be harnessed to power the new spinning and weaving machines. Textile mills were built throughout the Dales, working cotton, wool and flax. Many water mills were built or converted during the 18th century to set up cotton mills in the Yorkshire Dales but the competition from larger mills in Lancashire meant they didn’t survive.

Over the next few years the textile industry flourished. The Cisterian monks in abbeys such as Fountains and Jervaulx were renowned for their sheep farming. Sheep were crucial to them: they used wool for clothing and bedding and sold it at market alongside lamb, cheese and butter. They even used sheep skins for parchment.

By 1300, Fountains Abbey was the leading producer and exporter of wool. Their extensive lands stretched over to Malham Moor. Fountains Abbey had an enormous wool warehouse, a fulling mill and dye-vats. The monks at Jervaulx Abbey were the first to produce Wensleydale cheese made from ewes milk.
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Looking for a walk with a little quirkiness & good place to eat afterwards? Druid's Temple is the perfect destination, hidden (but easy to find) in the woods above Masham near Ilton. It's a Stonehenge-like structure, with smaller stones and a more intact main ring. It was also built much more recently - some time between 1700 and 1800.

The landowner of the time, William Danby is said to have paid locals to build it as a work-creation project during a recession. This was at a time when many young men travelled around Europe, fascinated by the Romantic movement and nostalgic for ancient customs. Poets such as Blake and Wordsworth are said to have been intrigued by druidism.

There are stories that William Danby hired a hermit to live there, ‘speaking to no one and allowing his beard and hair to grow’. Some say say he stayed for 7 years, others only for a few days.

Children love to play hide and seek in and around Druids Temple. (Don't try to walk on the top of the stones: a local girl broke her leg trying it). Pathways stretch off into the woods in different directions so you can easily enjoy a circular walk. Within the woods you'll also find random piles of stones and dens others have made. Follow the path downhill and you'll eventually come to a gate and open moorland where you can see plentiful pheasants and grouse, and look down on Leighton Reservoir. There's also a bird hide where you can watch curlews, lapwings, golden plover and various birds of prey if you visit at the right time.

After exploring Druids Temple, you might like to pop down the hill a little way to the quirky Bivouac cafe (where you'll need to park), also part of the Swinton Estate. Druids Temple can be found by following the signs around Masham to Bivouac or to Swinton Park and then Bivouac from there.
Visit Masham
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Rowntrees of York invented the KitKat and now over 22 Billion fingers are consumed globally every year.More than a billion KitKats are now produced in the city each year.

Read more here: bbc.in/3zHpi0d

📸 Dominic Lipinski/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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Rowntrees of York invented the KitKat and now over 22 Billion fingers are consumed globally every year.
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