The Walkers of ...
The Walkers of Lightcliffe The Walkers of Lightcliffe
Ann Walker moved to Crow Nest when she was six years old.  Her grandparents had rebuilt the house, to designs of Thomas Bradley, in 1788.  It was a virtual copy of Pye Nest in Halifax, designed by the celebrated York architect John Carr. Her grandparents had also rebuilt nearby Cliffe Hill in 1780.  Ann’s father had inherited Crow Nest following the death of his elder brother, who died without issue.  She in turn inherited the estate, as the oldest surviving child, following her father’s death.  Her four siblings had all died either in infancy or before the age of 43.  Ann, who was a shy lady, prone to melancholy illness and a deep lack of confidence, also owned a home at Lydgate.  It was here that her friendship with Anne Lister of Shibden Hall developed.  Anne Lister became a regular visitor and Ann began to see her as a companion with the promise of hope, love and fortune.

Their friendship, as we know from Anne Lister’s diaries, developed rapidly although Ann Walker, who possessed a strong sense of Christian duty, was often wracked with religious guilt.   They eventually agreed that they would live together at Shibden Hall but clearly masked the full extent of their friendship.  They travelled widely in Europe and beyond and continued to maintain both their estates. They were in Russia when Anne Lister died and Ann Walker brought the body back for burial in Halifax Parish Church.  She had been left a ‘life interest’ in Shibden Hall by her friend.  However, Ann’s health and mental state declined as she struggled to maintain the two estates.  Matters came to a head when she was forcibly removed from her locked room at the hall by her family and the local constable and consigned to an asylum in York.  She returned to Cliffe Hill shortly before her death in 1854.  Her nephew Evan Charles Sutherland Walker inherited the estate.

                                                                                                                                                     CB & JMB

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