My Yorkshire: Museum curator Heather Audin on why she loves East Yorkshire and its quaint villages
What’s your first Yorkshire memory?
One of my earliest recollections is of visiting York as a child with my brother and cousins. It seemed to take absolutely ages on a bus from Hull, and we visited the Jorvik centre and had a walk around the city. It left a lasting impression on me as being the most impressive place I’d ever been.
What’s your favourite part of the county?
As a girl from Hull, born and raised in East Yorkshire, I’d have to go with my roots, be loyal, and admit that this is my favourite part of the county. Our countryside landscape is beautiful, and the East Yorkshire villages are steeped in ancient history.
Hull is a great city with excellent museums, impressive institutional buildings and an interesting past, and Beverley is a very picturesque market town with a great range of architecture, including that beautiful Minster and the stunning St. Mary’s church at the other end of the town.
What’s your idea of a perfect day, or a perfect weekend, out in Yorkshire?
I’m a big fan of tea and cake – so this would definitely feature in my perfect weekend. There’s a wonderful tea room in Huggate village that is our favourite place to go on a weekend. It would also include a wander around one of the many museums or historic houses that Yorkshire has to offer.
Do you have a favourite walk/view?
There is some beautiful countryside near Londesborough and Nunburnholme, which is close to where we live. Cleaving Coombe has stunning views that stretch over the East Yorkshire countryside for miles into the distance. Holme upon Spalding Moor is also pretty special.
Which Yorkshire stage or screen star, or past or present, would you like to take for dinner?
The hugely talented Anna Maxwell-Martin, who comes from Beverley and has been in many period dramas such as Bleak House and Death comes to Pemberley which are two of my favourites.
If you had to name your Yorkshire ‘hidden gem’, what would it be?
We love walking around the snickleways in York, finding the hidden buildings and alleyways that help give the city it’s charm and character. One of the finest is the lovely Lady Peckett’s Yard, where two medieval passages meet at a right angle. It’s glorious to stand there, and to look around you – and there are so many people who walk past the entrance, and haven’t got a clue that it’s there.
If you could own, or have access to, one thing in Yorkshire for a single day, what would that object or place be?
Here’s an opportunity to explore the unseen areas of some of the beautiful stately homes that we visit in our local area, such as Burton Constable Hall, Burton Agnes Hall or Sledmere House.
What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity?
Yorkshire folk are certainly known for several stereotypical traits – with stubbornness and being tight with money some of the more unflattering ones – but over all, I think that we are indeed honest and down to earth, and there’s definitely an overwhelming pride in being Yorkshire born and bred, in ‘God’s own County’. It’s this confidence and sense of belonging, I believe, that creates a unique and strong regional identity.
Do you have a favourite restaurant, or pub?
Our local pub, the Goodmanham Arms, right on the main street in Goodmanham, is definitely one of our favourites and is always a friendly and welcoming place to visit. And we’re also very fond of Hitchcock’s, the restaurant on High Street in Hull’s old town, is also a fabulous and quirky place to go.
Do you have a favourite food shop?
When we need a treat, our favourite foodie place to go is Monkbar Chocolatiers, the independent chocolate shop down the Shambles in York.
How do you think that Yorkshire has changed, for better or for worse, in the time that you’ve known it?
I think everywhere is changing and adapting all the time as wider society and technology changes. It’s important to keep up with those changes to help benefit the community, whilst also preserving important elements of our past. Inevitably there are losses along the way, which is such a shame, but thanks to funding and regeneration projects I think we’re generally moving in a positive direction – though we could always do with more.
Who is the Yorkshire person that you most admire?
There’s an important patchwork historian, Averil Colby, who came from Malton, and who is known for being the first person to really write about the history of Patchwork and Quilting as a subject worthy of study, rather than dismissing it as an unimportant – almost trivial, in some deluded eyes - female domestic pursuit. I admire that she produced those books, especially as she started writing much later in life, just before she was sixty, and she paved the way for future researchers and historians to build upon her work.
Has Yorkshire influenced your work?
As a historian rather than an artist, I wouldn’t say influenced, but I certainly love to find out the history of my own local area, especially when it comes to social history and textiles. Yorkshire has a very rich textiles history, and the costume and textiles collections in Yorkshire museums are fantastic resources for study.
Name your favourite Yorkshire book/author/artist/CD/performer.
We love Blackbeard’s Tea Party, a folk band from York who are amazing when you see them perform. They mix elements of traditional folk music with their own upbeat style, and are a really entertaining and energetic band. They are definitely worth making an effort to catch them in performance – once seen, never forgotten, I promise you.
If a stranger to Yorkshire only had time to visit one place, it would be?
There are so many fabulous places that it’s like trying to pick out a favourite child! But make sure that you visit Fairfax House at Christmas time! It’s definitely one my all-time favourite places to go. This amazing Georgian townhouse is dressed with sumptuous period accurate decorations which really get you into the seasonal spirit. It’s well worth a visit.
The Knitting and Stitching Show is at the Harrogate Convention Centre from November 16 to 19.