Thursday, 22 September 2016

Giddings and Some Other Rooms of Ponden Hall

I love interiors and I love to photograph what I love, so that is why I always take pictures of places I stay at. Those photos are just as important to me as all the ones I take outdoors, especially when you stay somewhere special like Ponden Hall. Ponden was originally a large farmhouse built in the 17th century. It has many connections with the famous literary Bronte sisters regarding both their lives and works.

This is an old and so far my favourite photo of the front of Ponden. I shared it before and I'm posting it again as I couldn't blog about Ponden without including an outside photo of the building.

I had previously stayed in the amazing Earnshaw room and I blogged about it here. This time I stayed in the lovely and cosy ground floor Giddings room. It is situated immediately to the left of the front door and overlooks the courtyard. You can see its beautiful original mullioned windows in the photo above.

I always wanted to photograph the blue painted entrance hall with its stone flag floor, leather and wood seater and all the bags hanging above it. The door frame of the Giddings room is just visible behind the bags on the right.

The room was named after the first person who slept in it since the present owners, Julie and Steve lived in the house. The interesting thing is that the previous owners also named the room after the first person to sleep there while they had the house.
I arrived about 2 o'clock in the afternoon. It had rained all day, so there was no chance of going for a walk. I thought I'd make use of the wet weather time to photograph my room.

I love the beautiful mullioned window with a stone sill. It was a must to take a few shots of, and the fact it was raining outside inspired me even more. I found the three candles and the little framed picture of Ponden on top of the dresser and placed them on the sill for a photo. I used a rain texture overlay in post processing to enhance the mood of a rainy day.
As to the little picture of Ponden Hall, there is a nice, rather sweet story behind it. One day Julie and Steve received a letter from a man who lives in the neighbouring Lancashire. He told them his late parents used to go courting in the Ponden Hall area, and that he'd found the picture while clearing through their belongings. He didn't know who painted it, but sent it through the post to Julie and Steve. I think it was very kind of him to go to the trouble to do that.

My beautiful and very comfortable sleigh bed. I had a couple of very good night's sleep in it.

The two books I was reading - "Thornfield Hall" by Jane Stubbs and the little book of walks in the Bronte Country I took everywhere with me.

Lovely wooden furniture..... and one of the ceiling beams just showing. I like the green colour of the walls very much. I would have chosen that colour myself.

A few of my belongings made the room my own for a precious couple of days.

This is a part of the main Hall at Ponden. The huge oak table is where breakfast is served every morning......

........and where various other activities take place. I loved gazing at the mullioned windows and the charming garden beyond.

This is the little hall upstairs with the doors to the two other rooms you can stay in at Ponden Hall, and the library. The door in this image is the door to the Earnshaw room.

The other room is the Heaton Room, an enormous family room with a four poster bed and two single beds.

The room is named after the Heatons who first built the house in the 17th century and were its occupants till the end of 19th century. They were cloth merchants and manufactured cloth at the nearby Ponden Mill they owned too.

The Heaton room was used as a weaving room in the first place, and had subsequently had other uses. Today it is a stunning stately room with 18th century period features and, thanks to Julie and Steve, you can stay in it.

The lovely rocking horse sitting in front of the south window is Victorian and is called Cromwell. Julie and Steve bought it at an auction in Doncaster as a present from the late grandmother. It is named Cromwell because of Oliver Cromwell's connections with Ponden. He supposedly came to the nearby village of Stanbury, and the story goes that the Heatons heard he was looking for a property to commandeer, so they covered the house with the bracken from the moors in order to make it impossible to spot from the village.

I love this simple photo with the beautiful light streaming in from the north window, the old blackboard sign above the fireplace and the red sofa throws hanging off the backs of the armchairs. Behind the door is the Peat Loft, originally built and designed by the Heatons to take peat upstairs and cows downstairs so the heat would rise and dry the peat. Today the Peat Loft is a beautiful converted self contained annex with all the amenities of a luxurious holiday cottage.

The library at Ponden Hall was reputedly the largest and finest library in West Yorkshire at the beginning of the 19th century. A catalogue still exists. It is known that Emily and Branwell Bronte visited and read here, and it is highly likely that Charlotte and Anne did too.

On the opposite wall there are original library panels (not my photo). When the last of the Heatons died in 1989, much of the Hall's furniture was sold at auction and the books from the library were allegedly sold in the market in Keighley. What didn't sell was torn up and used for vegetable wrappings!! No one knows what happened to the Shakespeare First Folio, one of the world's most sought after rare books, that the library contained.

Ponden Hall is a truly wonderful place with a fascinating history and amazing spirit. There are many interesting and captivating stories and anecdotes concerning not only the past but more recent times down to the present too. If you are in the position or ever will be to do so, you can either stay here or just go for one of Julie's brilliant Tour and Teas. In either case you will be in for an experience that will never leave your thoughts.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Ponden Hall to Ponden Kirk, Bronte Country

The other weekend I returned to the wonderful Ponden Hall, my favourite place to stay in the Bronte Country. This time my intention was to explore the dramatic countryside around Ponden and locations linked to Emily Bronte's novel "Wuthering Heights". I was particularly keen on seeing Ponden Kirk, a large rock high up on Stanbury Moor, the place Emily chose for Cathy and Heathcliff to meet in the novel.
It was a mainly cloudy, but dry day with the sun only very occasionally trying to break through the rather thick clouds. After a hearty English breakfast cooked by lovely Julie, the landlady at Ponden Hall, I set off by myself on the long planned 4.5 mile walk. I felt pure excitement and just a little bit of trepidation at the prospect of being alone on the top of wild and windswept moorland area as yet unknown to me.

I headed north-west of Ponden, along a rural track flanked with one or two farms.

The sun was trying to push through some menacing clouds creating beautiful light and painting the sky moody blue-grey .

Looking back towards the hamlet of Ponden....

.........I often turn around on my walks and look back at the scenery behind me not wanting to possibly miss any good shots around me.

One of the stunning views over Ponden reservoir which Ponden Hall overlooks sitting high above it.

I soon turned up a different track leading to the moor, the reservoir still in sight.

Beautiful views across the Worth Valley accompanied me a good part of my way. I liked how the sheep was framed here by the dry stone wall.

The entrance to the moor and what is called "Ponden Slack" with a distant farm and a lone tree. The isolated farmhouse was very photogenic and pretty, and it was a good subject for my photography as well as orientation landmark.

Another breathtaking view of the Worth Valley.

I got close to the distant farmhouse and its lone tree.....

........they were a perfect theme for a bit of creative play in Photoshop with my Jessica Drossin's Macabre Sky overlays.

Love to see Yorkshire dry stone walls in any condition they can possible appear. They are always such a lovely feature to use in landscape photography.

Looking down over the Worth Valley in some rather atmospheric circumstances.

Ponden reservoir with moorland heather in the foreground. I was a bit disappointed to find that heather had already gone over more or less. Last year at this time it was still at its best. I'm going to make sure I come in the middle of August next year. I so love the moors when heather is in full bloom.

Approaching Stanbury Moor and Ponden Kirk area, the biggest point of interest on the walk.

Ponden Kirk or Penistone Crag as Emily Bronte named it in her "Wuthering Heights" novel. It is a large block of gritstone which in the past was thought to have magical properties. At the base there is a hole just big enough for an adult to climb through. Emily described it as a Fairy Cave. There are a few local legends about the hole, and one of them has it that if a couple crawl through the hole together they would die if they don't marry within a year, or they would commit suicide and haunt the rock together if either married someone else.

Beautiful stream with its little peaty weir. The stream merges with Ponden Beck which flows all the way from Ponden Reservoir.

A view of the beautiful, very picturesque Ponden Clough, a narrow gorge with steep sides and the stream running through it.

This is also the area where The Crow Hill Bog burst in 1824. Huge amounts of rain caused the soil to slide, and mud and water erupted into a devastating tidal wave. The Bronte children Emily, Ann and Branwell happened to be walking on the moor with their two family servants on the day, and they ran for shelter to the nearby Ponden Hall. It was a horrifying natural disaster that left a long lasting effects on their young lives.

Here the circular walk leads you over the stream and up an escarpment. However, there is no bridge over the stream which makes the crossing rather difficult. I found one spot where I could possibly jump across the water, but the rock I'd have to do it from was very slippy and the grass on the other side wet and possibly very boggy underneath. The map told me there was another difficult stream crossing soon after this one. I decided not to go any further on this occasion; I really enjoyed my walk so far and I didn't want to do anything that could possibly spoil it. I turned around and started walking back the same route I came.

I had to take a few more shots of Ponden Kirk as I stood in very good vantage point to photograph it from a distance. I liked the heather framing the rock in the foreground.

This is one of my favourite shots of the day with Ponden Kirk just visible on the left. The image conveys nicely the wild bleakness and remoteness of the location, and the light was kind enough to get detail in the sky and rich colours in my photo.

On my way back the sun was coming out and there was some lovely light over the Worth Valley.

Back in Ponden the sailing club members were out at the water's edge of the reservoir with their colourful boats and equipment.

And there was a warm and idyllic calm over the water. It is hard to believe that just minutes after I took this shot it started pouring with rain, so I quickly strode up the hill, the short distance to the Hall and cosiness of my room. I was so lucky it didn't rain sooner, while I was still on the moor (I was prepared though, you have to be!).

Back in my room I put the kettle on and thought what a great walk it was getting to know the part of the countryside the Bronte sisters knew well and were inspired by. And now I am inspired by it, and by them being inspired by it!! The following day I walked back to Ponden Kirk, this time the other side - via Buckley Green and Stanbury Moor. My next post will be about the lovely room I stayed in at Ponden Hall - The Giddings Room.