James Jones became Bishop of Hull in 1994 and four years later became Bishop of Liverpool until 2013. He chaired the Hillsborough Independent Panel and was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire earlier this year, and he now lives in a village near Malton.
What’s your first Yorkshire memory? Being driven from Bishopthorpe Palace to Hull via Beverley after being interviewed by Lord Habgood to become Bishop of Hull in 1994. I was captivated by the sight of Beverley Minster rising above the landscape. Then parking beneath a monument in Hull and being told it was of William Wilberforce – my hero since student days.
What’s your favourite part of the county and why? Living near Malton (the food capital of Yorkshire) I love the variety of the surrounding vales, moors and Wolds all within easy reach. I see them on my daily walk. The vast spaces and skies help your soul to breathe.
What’s your idea of a perfect weekend/day out in Yorkshire? My wife Sarah and I do a five star dinner, bed and breakfast for friends and family– afternoon tea with cucumber sandwiches, a walk, drinks, dinner of venison casserole, bed, full Yorkshire breakfast (I’m the breakfast chef!) followed by a visit to the Malton food market then, when all have gone, we collapse in front of the log fire. On some Sundays I love taking the services in the villages of Acklam and Burythorpe.
Do you have a favourite walk, or view? In Yorkshire you are spoilt for choice, but I never tire of the view of Kirkham Abbey from the Transpennine Express (more transpennine than it is express) as it runs parallel with the River Derwent from Malton to York.
Which Yorkshire stage or screen star (past or present) would you like to take for lunch, and why? Maureen Lipman. I once bumped into her in a lift and love her sense of humour and her take on life. She’s a great ambassador for the City of Hull.
If you had to name your Yorkshire ‘hidden gem’, what or where would it be? On the road from Leavening to Garrowby Hill there’s a signpost for Hanging Grimston which gives you a fabulous view of the Vale of York and beyond. Sarah and I often go there for a quiet picnic.
Do you have a favourite pub? Undoubtedly The Pipe and Glass in South Dalton. When friends come and stay for the weekend we’ll often go there. The food is consistently and exceptionally good, the atmosphere relaxed, and the welcome as warm as the log fire.
Do you follow sport in the county and if so, who? I had a surfeit of sport at my military boarding school from which I’ve never really recovered. At the age of 11 we all had to box. My elder brother got into the national championships but I was useless. But staying with boxing I do admire Nicola Adams whose grit, determination and positive outlook make her a great role model for young people.
If you could choose somewhere or some object from Yorkshire to own for the day what would it be? Scampston Hall. It has beautifully proportioned rooms, Gainsborough paintings to die for and gardens that my wife would delight in exploring.
If you had to change one thing about Yorkshire what would it be? I would stop fracking in Yorkshire. I am seriously worried that the regulation is not coordinated or robust enough. I worry about the impact it will have on our water. The risks are too high. If the water ends up contaminated it could have a disastrous impact on our health, our agriculture, tourism and the whole economy of Yorkshire.
Who is the Yorkshire man or woman you most admire, and why? I’m not sure that admire is the right word but the person from history that I would most like to talk with is Sir Mark Sykes of Sledmere in East Yorkshire. He was largely responsible for drawing up the boundaries of the nations of the Middle East. It would be fascinating listening to what principles guided him and what he now makes of the legacy of those decisions. His other legacy are the forests and estate of the magnificent Sledmere House.
How has Yorkshire influenced your work? I go back to William Wilberforce. As a young Christian at university I was moved by the way Wilberforce was inspired by reading the Bible to give himself to public service. William Hague,
another Yorkshireman, has written a brilliant biography. Wilberforce could have been Prime Minister but he gave himself to the liberation of slaves. It’s an example of how the pursuit of one noble goal is worth more than all the prizes that ambition brings.
How do you think Yorkshire has changed for the better – or worse – in the time you have known it? I loved being Bishop of Hull and was hugely helped by Hugh Buckingham, the wonderfully wise and kind Archdeacon of the East Riding, and by the people of Hull and the East Riding who taught me what being a bishop was all about. What has been wonderful to see is the way the city has grown in confidence and stature with being City of Culture this year. I saw the effect that being European City of Culture had on Liverpool in 2008 and it’s great to see Hull positioning itself as a centre of culture and commerce.
Who is your favourite Yorkshire author/artist/performer? Our three daughters Harriet, Jemima and Tabitha were at school in Hull with the ballerina Demelza Parish. I’ve seen her on the stage at Covent Garden but have yet to see Xander Parish who has shot to fame with the Mariinsky Ballet in Russia. I’ve started going to the ballet only recently and was transfixed by Giselle.
The Right Reverend James Jones KBE will be reading the sermon on tomorrow’s Sunday Worship on Radio 4.