Blue plaque paying tribute to Anne Lister to be unveiled at Shibden Hall next month

Anne Lister. Picture by Calderdale Museums
Anne Lister. Picture by Calderdale Museums

The fascinating life of historic Halifax woman Anne Lister will be honoured by a blue plaque at Shibden Hall.

The plaque will be unveiled on a very special day – Wednesday 3 April 2019 – which is the diarist’s 229th birthday.

A blue plaque is a permanent sign installed in a public place to commemorate a link between the location and a famous person, event or former building on the site.

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Anne Lister (1791 – 1840) lived at and eventually owned and managed Shibden Hall and Estate.

She recorded her life in great detail from 1806 to 1840 in diaries consisting of over five million words, some of which are in secret code.

The story of this remarkable scholar, traveller, business woman, landowner and lesbian, along with the distinctive Shibden Hall and surrounding areas, will be showcased in the BBC and HBO drama, Gentleman Jack, which is coming soon.

The eight part series was written by Sally Wainwright, known for creating other Calderdale dramas Last Tango in Halifax and Happy Valley, and will star Suranne Jones as Anne Lister.

Calderdale Council will jointly host a blue plaque unveiling and celebration event with Halifax Civic Trust, who organised the plaque and its wording.

Everyone is welcome and attendees will include the Mayor of Calderdale, the Deputy Lieutenant of West Yorkshire and biographers Helena Whitbread and Jill Liddington.

Helena Whitbread – historian, biographer and editor of Anne Lister’s diaries – began studying the journals over 30 years ago.

She published the first volume in 1988 and the second volume in 1993. Jill Liddington, Honorary Research Fellow at Leeds University, wrote the books Female Fortune and Nature’s Domain, which inspired the Gentleman Jack series.

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On Wednesday 3 April, the event will start with a free talk by Helena and Jill in Shibden Hall’s Aisled Barn at 3.30pm. To book a place visit www.eventbrite.co.uk
At 4.30pm the blue plaque unveiling will take place outside the front entrance to the Hall by the lawn. This is also free to attend. The Mayor of Calderdale, Coun Marcus Thompson, will officially unveil the plaque.

Richard Macfarlane, Calderdale Council’s Museums Manager, said: “Anne Lister left a remarkable legacy and played a key role in shaping the Shibden Hall and Estate that we know and love today. Having a blue plaque there is a fitting tribute.

"It’s especially poignant that the unveiling takes place on Anne’s birthday and in the run-up to the new Gentleman Jack series going on air. We look forward to welcoming people to this exciting event, and it’s also the perfect chance to visit the museum before it appears on our TV screens.”

Halifax Civic Trust’s blue plaques co-ordinator, David Hanson, said: “The Trust was delighted to promote a blue plaque commemorating Anne Lister in her home town. As businesswoman, landowner, international traveller and famously as ‘the first modern lesbian’, Anne Lister was ahead of her time.

"With the rediscovery of her diaries and current interest, home and abroad, she is set to become perhaps Halifax’s best known personality.”

Shibden Hall will be open as normal on Wednesday 3 April, from 10am to 5pm.

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