Will it cast a spell on you? – spooky events and much more at newly refurbished Oakwell Hall


Halloween is a great time to visit Oakwell Hall in Birstall. Following a major revamp, a great day out is now even better. New developments and refurbishments bring this stunning Elizabethan manor house to life. You may remember The Hall’s 1583 charm featured recently as a key film location in the hit BBC TV drama Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, and its haunting beauty makes it the perfect place for a ghostly visit this autumn.

Meet the resident spooks

The new refurbishments also draw on its ghostly character and its resident spirit from the 17th century, William Batt, who has become quite famous following his appearance on TVs Most Haunted. He’s not the only otherworldly voice you will hear as you wander through the house. Talking portraits come to life to share their stories, including world famous novelist Charlotte Bronte, who tells of Oakwell’s appearance in her novel Shirley.

Updates to the Hall engage all the senses in the discovery of history. You can hear the sounds of English Civil War soldiers marching past and lute music playing in the grand parlours. Delve into mysterious carved wooden boxes to solve secret codes and create your own coat of arms. You can even make yourself at home by dressing up in period cloaks and hats throughout your visit.

The Arts Council funded renovations have also resulted in a brand new shop which is now a stunning shopping experience stocking local crafts, great gifts, Yorkshire food, children’s toys, homeware and much more.

Oakwell’s large historic barn is a highly successful venue for weddings and other events and this has also now been upgraded with subtle new lighting to highlight its original period features. In addition, there is a new food preparation area for event caterers to use.

Hogwarts comes to Oakwell Hall

Know your ‘Expelliarmus’ from your ‘Expecto Patronums’? Young visitors over the October half term can get involved in a wizarding school for wannabee Harrys and Hermiones.  The ‘Wands, Herbs and Broomsticks’ children’s activities will take place on Wednesday 28 October and cost £1 per child.

There are two sessions: 10am–12noon and 1pm–3pm

New features

One of the most striking new features is the stunning new artist designed iron gate in the site’s attractive courtyard. Designed by artist Antonia Stowe, the design incorporates ideas from local schoolchildren, visitors and community groups reflecting Oakwell’s heritage, natural history and environment. The area leading to the gate has been beautifully redesigned and landscaped by the site’s rangers and volunteers.  Their work is essential to the year round appearance of the country park and ensures the site continues to win coveted awards from Yorkshire in Bloom and maintain Green Flag status.

Cllr Turner, our Cabinet member for resources said:

We are delighted to offer these wonderful new facilities for visitors. Oakwell is an extremely popular place and these improvements will provide even greater opportunities for everyone who visits. Just as important is the impact on the site’s business sustainability. By investing in Oakwell we are contributing to its future viability and so, on behalf of everyone at Oakwell, I want to thank the Arts Council and our other supporters for giving us the chance to make such a huge difference to the site. It’s a fantastic place, and a brilliant example of how by working together with the Arts Council, local firm PPG, the fantastic Oakwell Volunteers, and the Friends group we can achieve fantastic results. With this spirt of collaboration I am sure that we can continue to make Oakwell even better than it already is.”

Michelle Dickson, Director North, Arts Council England, added:

I’m pleased we have supported Oakwell Hall through our Renaissance Strategic Support Fund. The development of its activity will attract new audiences and their sustainability plans are a good example of working in partnership with other organisations to ensure the future of the wider museum service.”

The project cost £289,000 and was funded by an Arts Council England Museums Strategic Support Fund grant of £257,289, which was supported by additional funding from Kirklees Council, the Friends of Oakwell Hall, and local paint firm Johnstone’s Paints, part of the PPG group, who also support the site through sponsoring events, such as the recent English Civil War re-enactment, education programmes and through volunteering.

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