Shibden Estate Millenium Project
The Shibden Estate Project is a permanent and unique exhibit built by the West Yorkshire Branch of the Dry Stone Walling Association in the grounds of Shibden Hall in Halifax. It is now under the supervision of the Otley & Yorkshire Dales branch. It was designed by branch member David Griffiths to exemplify all the skills of the Master Craftsman dry stone waller and to reflect the social relevance and cultural importance of the craft in its local and national context.
The project draws together all the elements which make up the highest standards of dry stone walling and displays and interprets the characteristics and the practical applications of the craft in our landscape. Its creation illustrates the commitment of all the organisations involved to the responsible conservation of dry stone walls within our countryside.
The initial confidence of Calderdale Council in offering the site and the most generous support of Johnsons Wellfield Quarries Limited, who donated the stone, were justified when the Heritage Lottery Fund agreed to give a grant of £30,000. More support came from the Community Foundation for Calderdale, the Halifax Bank and ABG Ltd, who provided robust membrane to lie under the temporary paths and marquee.
The project also involves the creation of educational facilities and resources for the study of the social, historical and environmental aspects of the craft. A base for study will eventually house a new archive of DSWA material and should find wide use as a national educational and research facility.
A section of the site is dedicated to training and is well placed to link into workshops currently run on site by Calderdale Museums and Arts Education Team and the Countryside and Forestry Unit Education Officer and Rangers.
Two spectacular conical pillars mark the top entrance to the exhibit and two closely dressed, square-topped pillars mark the lower end. The path leads past a series of stiles and lunky holes through walling which gradually takes on a more relaxed character until it curves upwards to the top of the site. Within the defined space there will be a practice area housed in a circular pinfold – half free-standing, half buried in the hillside – which displays the considerable skills involved in building in a tight curve. Nearby there is a set of demonstration walls showing the various stages of wall construction.
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