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Temporary Exhibition 2013: "Family Stories" Panels

Below is a summary of the text of each of the ten display panels from the temporary exhibition "Family Stories". You can view a higher resolution copy of the panel in image (JPG) format or PDF format by clicking on the thumbnail image of the board, or the PDF link at the foot of each section of text. A PDF containing nine panels is also available: pdf (15Mb)

Copyright in all text and illustrations on the following exhibition panels remains with the Yorkshire Archaeological Society and the Museum of North Craven Life

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The Yorkshire Archaeological Society

The YAS is the only Yorkshire-wide historical Society. Since 1863 we have been encouraging people to discover more about the history and pre-history of this large and impressive county.

The Society has a programme of lectures and talks, day schools and excursions. It is also a publisher and issues volumes on a wide range of archaeological and historical topics.

We also maintain a wonderful resource for studying Yorkshire's past in our extensive library and collection of unique archives and manuscripts at our headquarters in Leeds.

These collections were built up from the early years of the Society. Early members were keen to preserve all evidence of Yorkshire's past, whether manuscripts, monuments, buildings, or artefacts. The Society has never been simply an archaeological society in the modern sense, but rather a broader historical society.

In the archives our collecting strengths are manorial and estate papers, and antiquarian and historians' collections. The library's forte is in journals, local history books, and prints.

One of the great charms of the YAS's collections is that their organic growth has meant they are wide-ranging and varied. The archives in particular reflect members' interests.

The YAS aims to make its collections available to everyone, but we need the support of our members' subscriptions and donations to be able to continue to promote the study of Yorkshire's past.



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Family Stories

Family stories is a display about how people used to live in Yorkshire in the past: many things have changed, some things have remained the same!

This exhibition focuses on a few notable families who lived in the Craven area. All left behind evidence of their lives in documents, artefacts, buildings and the landscape. From this we can piece together information about how they lived - maybe even hear their voices today.

We hope you enjoy stepping into the past and exploring some of Yorkshire's heritage.

All the manuscripts and books on show are from the library and archives of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society. They are accompanied by objects from the collections of the Museum of North Craven Life.

This exhibition is part of the Society's 150th anniversary celebrations



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The Bollands of Settle:

daughters and daydreams

The Bollands of Townhead, Settle, made their money from the wool trade and purchased land in Settle and Kettlewell at the end of the 18th century

In the early 19th century William and Margaret Bolland lived at Townhead, Settle, with their daughters. William was a landowner, but his family was not a traditional land-owning family: the property had been purchased by money made through the wool trade.

William's grandfather was a prosperous woolstapler (someone who buys and sells wool) and bought Townhead in 1763 along with other property in Settle and Kettlewell.

William was only 5 years old when his father died. Luckily his relations helped raise him and his siblings. William married Margaret Kempster in 1803 and they had 5 daughters: Margaret, Elizabeth, Mary, Jane and Susanna. Elizabeth married John Perfect, Jane married William Mosley Perfect and Susanna married the Rev. William Clayton. The family was fairly well off and the sisters made good matches, marrying men of the professional classes or independent means.

Descendants of the Bolland sisters lived at Townhead until the 20th century, when it was purchased by Tot Lord the famous local collector. Lord made Townhead his home and installed his museum, the Pig Yard Club Museum there. The house was demolished in 1972 and all that remains today are its gateposts at the top of Constitution Hill.



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The Bollands of Settle:

Margaret Bolland

Margaret Bolland (1805-1878), eldest daughter of William and Margaret Bolland, was a keen letter writer and diarist. She also carefully kept letters sent to her, collecting these together and stitching them into a file.

As a teenager Margaret was sent away from home to Miss Simpson's academy at Adwick Hall near Doncaster. Here she was taught the manners and accomplishments which were expected of a well brought-up young lady.

As an unmarried woman who did not need to work, she had lots of spare time to go visiting friends and relations and for pastimes such as writing, drawing and embroidery.

Margaret's commonplace book contains articles, copies of poems, riddles, sketches and paintings, some contributed by friends and relatives. As a young woman she was interested in the latest fashions and trends: "at every shop we saw one black cap trimmed sometimes with pink, but more frequently with the new colour which they call 'souci', it is something like a marigold or I think I should say orange - I indulged myself by buying a black cap with the souci ribbons and Jane said I was quite right and liked it much"



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The Wilsons of Eshton

bricks and mortar

The Wilson family lived at Eshton Hall, near Gargrave, from the 17th century. Different members of the family left their stamp on Eshton, making changes to the building and its decoration, and filling it with possessions which reflected their interests.

Mathew Wilson and Eshton Hall

There has been a house on the site of the present Eshton Hall for 700 years, and it was once in the hands of the Clifford family of Skipton. The money made by the Wilson family through the cloth trade allowed them to purchase Eshton Hall and its estate (680 acres) in 1648. The hall which stands today was rebuilt from 1825 by Mathew Wilson (1772-1854) employing the architects Francis and George Webster of Kendal.

Mathew was a prominent local figure, trained as a solicitor and acting as Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant for the West Riding.

The increasing fortunes of the Wilsons allowed them to make alterations to the hall. The family's estates were consolidated in 1800 when Mathew Wilson married his cousin and heiress to the Wilson estates, Margaret Clive Wilson, widow of the Rev. Henry Richardson Currer.

Subsequent generations of the Wilson family lived at Eshton until 1914. In the next few years the Wilson estates began to be sold off and the hall was let, being used notably as a school. Now Eshton is again a residence, but no longer home to one family, being converted into a number of luxury apartments.



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Frances Mary Richardson Currer 1785-1861

Frances Mary, daughter of Margaret Clive Wilson and the Rev. Henry Richardson Currer was born at Eshton Hall in 1785.

On inheriting both her father's and her mother's estates Frances Mary became a very rich woman. She was able to use this money to pursue her interests in book collecting.

"She is in possession of both the Richardson and Currer estates and inherits all the taste of the former family, having collected a very large and valuable library, and also possessing a fine collection of prints, shells and fossils, in addition to what were collected by her great-grandfather and great-uncle." Mrs Dorothy Richardson, 1815

She was a well-educated and kind woman. She may have been a benefactor to the Brontė family, and this could explain why Charlotte Brontė chose 'Currer Bell' as her pen-name.

A large part of Frances Mary's income came from the extraction of coal and other minerals on land in Bradford.



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Frances Mary Richardson Currer's Library

"I must again refer to a preceding work, in which this Library has been somewhat minutely described: but now, having seen it - consisting of two noble apartments, entirely filled with finely bound books, and extending some eighty feet in length, and twenty-five in width, by sixteen in height - to say nothing of a third library or book-boudoir, at the extremity of the second, to the right...I may honestly say, that with the exception of Althorpe, Chatsworth, and Stowe, I know of NO such collection of books, situated in the country that can pretend to break a lance with it."

Frances Mary built up an impressive private library (around 20 000 books) at Eshton Hall. This included volumes on many different topics including religion, history, philosophy, law, literature, and languages.

Frances Mary hoped that her library would remain at Eshton after her death, but it was sold by her half-brother in 1861. Her library was broken up and her manuscript and coin collections were also sold at auction. Some of her manuscripts and papers relating to the Wilson family are now in the collections of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society and West Yorkshire Archive Service.



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The Listers of Gisburn Park:

money and mining

The Listers were an old Craven family and lived at Gisburn from the 16th century. Over the years they expanded their estates, acquiring land in Kirkby Malhamdale. The family's income from their estates allowed them to live an aristocratic lifestyle.

Thomas Lister and the Malham estates

Thomas Lister (1752-1826), was created Baron Ribblesdale in recognition of his service during the American War of Independence. He made major changes to the family estates, particularly introducing mining activity. Lister was keen to acquire as much land in the Craven area as possible and had ambitions to be able to ride over his own land, all the way from Gisburn Park to Malham Tarn.

As a landowner Thomas looked for ways of making money out of his estate. Thomas Collins, whom Lister had met while at Oxford, oversaw the running of the estate at Malham. One of Collins's particular jobs was to organise calamine mining on the estate. Calamine is the common name for an ore of zinc which was used in brass-making. It was found in large deposits at Pikedaw, Malham West, and a thriving, if short-lived, industry grew up. The raw ore was washed and calcinated (roasted) at the Smelt Mill near Lower Trenhouse, and then taken down to Malham, to a building still known as the Calamine House, before being transported to Cheadle Brass Works. Lead and coal were also mined at Malham and Malham Moor. Stalactites were discovered in the caverns during the mining operations and some of these were taken away to be sold in London as natural curiosities.



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The Listers of Gisburn Park:

recreation on the Malham estate

The Lister estates were also used for recreation by the Listers and their friends. Malham Water House (now the Malham Tarn Field Studies Centre) was built as a hunting lodge by Thomas Lister.

"...the favourite amusement and which the neighbouring Gentlemen and Strangers upon a proper application are indulged with, is the Traverse of the Lake. The water is between 3 and 4 yards deep in all places...from every part of which in a calm day you may perceive the capillations of almost innumerable fountains which are the principal feeders of the Tarn. There is a Boat-house at each extremity of the Lake; that at the Southern angle appropriated to the accommodation of Visitors, who are supplied with every convenience either for sailing or fishing; and what is perhaps not the least luxurious appendage, have a neat Banqueting-Room wherein to enjoy the fruits of their dexterity."





Temporary Exhibitions for other years may be found by clicking on the relevant links below:


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