Many sporting events are currently cancelled or postponed across the globe, we’re missing the Tour de Yorkshire, Olympics, Premier League, Euro 2020, The Open, Wimbledon and so much more. BUT fear not because in true sporting fashion, Welcome to Yorkshire have arranged the online WTY World Cup of Yorkshire (psst … there’s more to come) and the first category to battle it out for spectacular supremacy was (drum roll) … iconic buildings. It was nervously nail biting, the build up to the final was bigger than the actual building of the celebrated constructions themselves (well, it felt like it), but most of all it was great fun. Everyone’s a winner, as they say, but here’s who actually came out on top. Remember to visit! (when you can)
The Piece Hall took top prize in the WTY World Cup of Yorkshire - Iconic Buildings. Competition was tough, but this spectacular piece of architecture is truly breath taking and is often compared to many stunning similar Italian destinations, such as St Mark’s Square in Venice. After a multimillion-pound restoration project, this unique location nestled in the centre of Halifax, opened its ornate gates again in 2017 and has attracted over 7m visitors to date. It has fast become a historic hub for enjoying independent shops, bars and restaurants, as well as being a world-class, all year, events venue.
Think music concerts with some of the world’s biggest bands and singers including Elbow, Kaiser Chiefs and Embrace, outdoor film screenings, site-specific performances, circus spectacles and seasonal markets, alongside food and drink fairs. The magnificent courtyard setting has played host to the start of the annual Tour de Yorkshire (transmitted across the globe), an impressive setting for BBC’s Antiques Roadshow and has also starred on the big screen in the multi-award-winning film Brassed Off. This grand Grade I listed building dates back to 1779 and was originally designed to support the trading of ‘pieces’ of cloth, with the stories of Georgian Halifax told in specially created heritage spaces and there is an art gallery hosting visual art exhibitions.
There is nowhere quite like it in the world. The monumental masterpiece is the only surviving intact cloth hall in the UK and an iconic symbol of the important role played by Yorkshire at the booming centre of the world’s woollen trade.
Whilst the Piece Hall is temporarily closed due to coronavirus, you can visit it online and currently experience virtual activities. Be sure to see this wonderful iconic and unique space when it re-opens.
National Trust property Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden was a very worthy finalist in the WTY World Cup of Yorkshire – Iconic Buildings vote. The largest monastic ruins in the country date back to the twelfth century and the spectacular site is home to an elegant Elizabethan Hall, a Gothic church and a mill created by the devout monks who were skilful masters of machinery. From humble beginnings the impressive abbey grew to be wealthy and powerful.
Boasting wonderful grounds, with the water garden gaining global glory in 1986 when it was granted UNESCO World Heritage status, it was created by father and son John and William Aislabie. The design of the grounds being a precursor to the later style which became synonymous with lauded landscape architect Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown.
Eyecatchers and fabulous follies were a common feature within English gardens back in the day and the Aislabies built many of these. Elegant ponds and cascades entwined with rustic bridges, classical temples and statues enthral today’s visitor just as they would the pleasure-seeking Georgians.
With delightful deer dotted around the site, the luscious landscape is the perfect backdrop for not only walking and exploring, but for many events and exhibitions throughout the year.
Whitby Abbey has been inspiring visitors for nearly 1500 years, including Caedmon, the first named English poet and Dracula author Bram Stoker. The world famous Abbey’s stunning seaside setting is a truly breathtaking location. A 17th-century mansion is home to a fantastic visitor centre, gift shop, coffee bar and an abbey entrance that is fully accessible. Centuries of history can be uncovered with new interactive guides in the recently revamped museum.
First founded circa AD 657 by King Oswy of Northumbria, the abbey was refounded after the Norman
Conquest and remained a centre of religious life until it was suppressed in 1539. Years of wear, weather and war have left their mark, as for nearly 700 years, the splendid 13th-century Gothic abbey has towered high above the town of Whitby, with the iconic English Heritage site offering vast views of the impressive coastline and historic seaside town.
Familiar as the setting for scenes from ITV’s Victoria and the Downton Abbey film, Harewood House is home to the Earl and Countess of Harewood and is the perfect place to explore inside and out. Filled with art, culture and heritage, its sweeping drive leads to an impressive heritage house and sprawling grounds. It has a bird garden with over 40 rare species (celebrating its 50th anniversary this year), restaurants, an adventure playground, a walled garden, a Himalayan garden, boat rides on the lake and wonderful walks in over 100 acres of exquisite estate.
One of the Treasure Houses of England, the historic Georgian property sits within Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown designed landscape and offers vast views from the award-winning tended terraces. Step inside and there’s an impressive collection of the best Chippendale furniture in the country, with an astounding collection of paintings by masters of the Italian Renaissance and from renowned English artists, such as JMW Turner, who visited Harewood as a young man, aged just 22, to paint the new house and its landscape. Explore the opulent state rooms and contemporary art exhibitions with the chance to step back in time to explore life ‘below stairs’ too. With a packed annual events and exhibition programme, there are plenty of reasons to return again and again.
This article was originally written for This Is Y magazine digital edition – May 2020. To view the full magazine, click here