Yorkshire Dales farmer Hannah Hauxwell's hand-stitched quilts are up for auction

Family heirlooms made by 'daughter of the Dales' and unlikely TV star Hannah Hauxwell are to be auctioned in Harrogate.

Hannah Hauxwell
Hannah Hauxwell

Hannah, who died last year aged 91, became famous in the 1970s when Yorkshire Television filmed a documentary called Too Long a Winter at her remote smallholding in the isolated North Pennines.

Obituary: Hannah HauxwellThe hardy farmer, who lived alone in spartan conditions without running water or electricity, captured viewers' hearts with her endearing innocence, simple life and devotion to her livestock.

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Watch the 1970s documentary that turned Hannah Hauxwell into a household nameNow a selection of quilts that Hannah hand-stitched while living at Low Birk Hatt in Baldersdale are going under the hammer at Tennants Auctioneers on February 9.

This is what Hannah Hauxwell's old farmhouse looks like nowThe textiles have been made using a family pattern and one quilt bears the initials of Hannah's grandmother, Elizabeth Bayles.

The auction house said:-

"All the women in Hannah's family were known to be accomplished seamstresses, and Hannah herself was very good with a needle. Indeed, she had a mattress filled with straw that she had made from a unique patchwork of fabrics. Most of the quilts have been made using the same pattern of quilting stitches - perhaps a family pattern - and interestingly they each have three rounded and one squared corner."

Hannah never married, and worked the farm alone after inheriting it when her parents died when she was in her 30s. By her 60s, failing health saw her agree to sell the building, which became a modern farmhouse conversion. She moved into a nearby cottage.

She proved to be a likeable figure on camera, calmly recounting winter nights spent sleeping alongside the cows in the byre for warmth, drinking from streams and schlepping across three fields to collect her bread delivery. A requisitioned pail served as her bath.

Hannah's Victorian world, still lit by oil lamps, seems barely credible to a modern audience, and it's difficult to believe she lived in such poverty only 40 years ago. A follow-up documentary, A Winter Too Many, revisited Hannah two decades on from the original series, when she was retiring and preparing to sell the farm. In later life, she became an unlikely star in America when subsequent documentaries followed her as she travelled abroad for the first time.