Echoes of the past at first hall wedding

First couple to get married at Shibden Hall, Amanda Sheppard, left, and Lorraine Burke.
First couple to get married at Shibden Hall, Amanda Sheppard, left, and Lorraine Burke.

A loved-up pair will make history when they become the first couple to tie the knot at Shibden Hall.

Lorraine Burke, 51, and Amanda Sheppard, 47, will exchange vows at the historic hall on Saturday, surrounded by family and friends.

The Grade II* listed 15th century house is a spot close to both of their hearts and the rich background of the building will make the day all the more poignant.

Anne Lister, renowned lesbian landowner and diarist, directed the renovation and landscaping of Shibden Hall after inheriting it from her uncle, James Lister.

And the couple couldn’t be happier that the hall, with all its history, will provide the backdrop for their big day.

Lorraine, who lives with Amanda in Highroad Well, said: “We have always felt like we have had a connection with Shibden Hall.

“If Amanda was ever feeling down, she would go and sit there and look over the valley.

“Before we even met, we just felt we had a connection to it, we always knew that if we got married it was going to be there.

“It’s a place where I feel I have lived before, as soon I walked in, I felt like I had come home.

“We are so excited about the day, it’s going to be fantastic.”

And following the wedding, the couple hope there will be a special, rather spooky, surprise.

“When we are taking photographs in the hall I bet there will be a ghostly figure of Anne Lister in the background,” Lorraine, a self-employed IT Consultant, added.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing the photographs, I know she will be there in spirit.

“It’s what she always wanted, to see two women be able to be married.”

The couple, who have been partners for 11 and a half years, will enjoy their reception at The Murgatroyd Arms, Skircoat Green, and jet off to the Greek island of Santorini for a sunsoaked honeymoon.

Councillor Steve Sweeny, Calderdale Council’s cabinet member for communities, said: “The Grade II* Listed, 15th Century Hall is licensed to hold wedding ceremonies, and this weekend the first couple will be married within its historic halls.

“If you would like to visit Shibden Hall with a view to booking it for your special ceremony, email shibdenweddings@calderdale.gov.uk, or telephone 01422 352246 during museum opening times.”