We went back to Yorkshire to see my oldest friends!!! Steve and Diane, who I’ve known since Leicester University days in the late 1960s. (By coincidence they live within half an hour’s drive of the friends we’d first stayed with a week or two earlier). A special treat was meeting their kids and grand kids who joined us for lunch and an Easter egg hunt in the garden before Ingrid caught the train home to do some studying.
It’s great having friends you might not have seen for five or ten years but can just pick up with again as though it were yesterday. On a cold and rainy Sunday we visited The Hepworth Wakefield, an innovative modern art gallery with a strong focus on Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore, two of England’s greatest sculptors, both born in this area.
Thomas Chippendale designed the furniture, even wooden drapes giving the appearance of luxurious curtains, while England’s greatest landscape gardener, Capability Brown, was commissioned for the garden.
The house is filled with Renaissance masterpieces, Sevres China, magnificent chandeliers and much more besides. It also has five libraries containing over 14,000 books!
I even found some Aboriginal art!
In contrast. the old servants quarters and kitchen below stairs were also displayed.
Outside the formal garden made way for daffodil-covered rolling hills and an extensive bird garden including kookaburras!
I’m sure I’ve never visited so many stately homes in such a short period before. Apparently the Lascelles family built their fortune on rum, a byproduct of the sugar trade. A couple of old dust-covered bottles of light and dark rum made in 1780 were on display. 226 of these old bottles were found covered in layers of dirt and dust in the cellar recently and a dozen were sold at Christie’s in late 2013. The six bottles of light rum fetched 25,000 pounds while the 6 bottles of dark rum sold for 7,000 pounds each. In recognition of the slave trade origins of the Lascelles fortune, the proceeds went to a foundation supporting people of Caribbean origin in the UK.
Our three weeks in England were rapidly drawing to close so we just had time for a last couple of days with Ingrid in Portsmouth and London – we were on the road again! Too short a visit but we’ll be back!