ELHAS Summer Outings 2011

Although we do not hold meetings during the summer months, we have still had a busy period with members enjoying various outings.

On Saturday 23rd of July we were delighted to play host to the Leeds Civic Trust who had asked us to lead a walk around the Cross Gates area. Thirty members of the Trust joined Jacki and Bob Lawrence for a three mile circuit of our locality, accompanied by a commentary on the history of Cross Gates. We began in the library heritage room with a short talk on the development of the area and a brief history of the library.

Once outside we walked around such landmarks as the Barnbow Memorial, the firstminer's cottages, and the railway station. During the walk we visited Cross Gates Methodist Church and Manston St James, and we are grateful to David Leeming for allowing access to the Methodist Church, and Ann Hemsworth for her entertaining history of Manston Church.

After having a look at Austhorpe Hall, the area's only surviving manor house, Bob gave a short talk on John Smeaton, England's first civil engineer and Austhorpe's most famous son. Then we returned to the library where our guests enjoyed a welcome cup of tea and had the opportunity to purchase copies of the Leeds History Journal and other publications.

This was a new initiative for us, but judging by the comments made by Trust members, it was one which was well received.

On August 4th a small group of ELHAS members paid a visit to the Mercer Gallery in Harrogate to see the Atkinson Grimshaw Exhibition. As most of the paintings by this Leeds born Victorian artist are in private ownership, the exhibition was unique in having so many of his works on display together.

Whilst Grimshaw is best known for his atmospheric moonlight paintings, we had the opportunity to view all aspects of his work, such as portraits and landscapes. Also on show were several paintings by his children. Although none became as famous as their father, their paintings were enjoyable to see and showed a high degree of talent.

The exhibition also had information boards which clearly told Grimhaw's life story. Following our visit to the gallery we had lunch in one Harrogate's many hostelries Hales Bar. This is the oldest pub in the Yorkshire spa town of Harrogate and dates back to the mid 17th century. The bar was also featured in the Oscar-winning film, Chariots of Fire. This made a lovely ending to an enjoyable outing.

The sun shone on our outing on Saturday 13th August when 17 ELHAS members walked the newly established Towton Battlefield Trail. This year is the 550th anniversary of the battle of Towton, which took place on Palm Sunday 1461.

To commemorate the event, the Towton Battlefield Society and the Royal Armouries, in cooperation with the landowner have developed a fenced off trail around the site of the battle. Colourful fact filled information boards have been erected at selected points round the trail. Our guide around the trail was David Skillen of the T.B.S. David, whose other interest is the American Civil War, provided us with an informative and interesting commentary on the background to the Wars of the Roses and the progress of the battle. His occasional flashes of humour heightened our enjoyment of the talk.

After the walk we visited the recently re-opened Rockingham Arms for lunch. Then came the surprise of the day. We had intended to make a brief visit to Saxton to view Lord Dacre's tomb, but were delighted to be told by David that the T.B.S. were holding a display on the village green and we would have the opportunity to see some members in costume demonstrating aspects of life in medieval times. In fact, when we arrived, we found a village gala in full swing. Not only were we offered free ice creams, but three members of our group found themselves the recipients of raffle prizes. All this, coupled with the chance to try out archery and watch demonstrations such as different aspects of medieval society like weaving and sword fighting, proved an irresistible draw to our members.

Dragging ourselves away from the delights of the gala we called in at Saxton church yard to see Lord Dacre's tomb and the Towton memorial before making our way to the church at Lead. This tiny church is the only remaining evidence of the village of Lead. Built in the 12th century it is thought to be the chapel to the manor house owned firstly by the Tyas family and subsequently by the Scargill family. Our visit to this beautiful, peaceful church proved a fitting ending to what had been a thoroughly enjoyable day out.