1854 Map of Crow Nest and Cliff Hill
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Are you inspired by Ann Walker?

We want to hear about it. Join in our Ann Walker Birthday Challenge

To celebrate what would have been Ann’s 218th  birthday on May 20th 2021, we want to encourage people to honour Ann by sharing how she inspires us.

Ann’s life encompassed many roles, interests, ambitions and accomplishments. Even before she united her life with Anne’s, Ann exercised her role as a daughter, sister, businesswoman and a landowner. We know more about her life since she became romantically involved with Anne Lister, through Anne’s and now her own diary.

One of the most inspiring moments of Ann’s life is her decision to choose a life with Anne Lister and move to Shibden Hall in spite of her family and all the difficulties she experienced afterwards. With Anne, her life took on another dimension, including the complexities of living together with the woman she loved and shared everything with, yet not being able to show and talk about that love openly and in a public manner. And we want to celebrate that courage.

We continue being inspired by countless moments of Ann’s life as we learn more and more about it.

We remember Ann as a brave and caring woman.

1)  Ann was a landowner and a businesswoman; she dealt with all sorts of estate matters on her own or through her land steward Samuel Washington, and by keeping lively correspondence with her lawyers. She was persistent in ensuring matters would be resolved the way she wanted, and stood up for what she believed was right even if it got her into trouble like when she kicked an ordnance survey team off Shibden Estate in 1843! During the ceremony of the opening of Northgate Hotel, Ann made a speech in front of a hundred-strong crowd.

Are you/were you a business person or have a professional career? Do you recognise any similarities with how Ann might have performed her daily tasks and errands with your own? Do you have a similar experience or an anecdote you want to share?

2) Ann was an artist. She was very keen on perfecting her sketching and painting with watercolours. Through the years she was tutored by masters and practised even when on her travels. She also bought books on the subject, was very interested in the history of art while travelling through Europe on her honeymoon in 1834, and recorded many details in her journal.

Is art your passion? How do you practice it or make it part of your daily life? Show us by creating something in Ann’s honour while we celebrate her birthday on May 20th. You can visit “Ann Walker’s Sketchbook” at the Packed With Potential website to be inspired by what Ann actually sketched as written in Anne Lister’s diaries.

3) Ann was an educator and very fond of children. She opened a school, interviewed teachers for the position and even taught classes on occasion! We know she read books about education and invested her money, time and passion in this cause.

Do you have a similar job, or are you involved in education or teaching? Do you work with children? How does it inspire you? Tell us about it.

4) Ann was a keen reader and a bookbuyer. From their early encounters, Anne Lister recorded in her diaries how she borrowed books, journals and pamphlets from Ann and vice versa. Ann may well have had a library of her own at Lidgate and/or Crownest and after moving to Shibden Hall she would add more books to it after each trip she went on with Anne. Ann frequently visited Whitley’s in Halifax, but also patronised bookshops in various cities on her travels. The topics Ann was interested in are broad and cover many aspects of life including art, history, travel-guides, archaeology, religion, household management etc.

Have you been a reader since an early age? Do you have a library of your own? What are your interests and how did you combine your library with your partner’s?

5) We know that Ann was a diarist as well. We know that Ann kept a journal during most of the time she was living with Anne at Shibden Hall. It is revealing and satisfying to read her thoughts in the one volume that we have. Let’s hope more of Ann’s journals will be discovered in the future.

Do you keep a journal? Do you record everything like Anne Lister or is it more along the lines of shorter observations on daily happenings? Are you more interested in recording facts, or do you write about your impressions and reflections?

6) Ann had a lot of hobbies! We know she played backgammon (and was good at it), she knitted, regularly learned and improved her French, and played piano on occasions. We’ve also noticed Ann was a bit of a shopaholic and especially loved buying presents for all the members of her family. During her last trip with Anne we can read about how Ann cooked and prepared food for them both while on the road. We know she had a couple of cookbooks in her library at home! Ann loved her pony which she rode between Shibden Hall and Cliff Hill on an almost daily basis, while in Europe she even reached tops of mountains riding a mule. Ann also had a dog called Tiny, so was a pet owner.

Do you share any of these interests with Ann? Are you a good cook or keep a pet? Do you like buying thoughtful presents for your nearest and dearest? We want to see celebrations in Ann’s honour including anything you cook or bake, compose or just have a play session with your pet. Bonus points if you know how to play backgammon or can do anything in French.

7) Ann was a traveller and a tourist in the modern sense of the word. She travelled through Europe several times and enjoyed sightseeing in ancient and medieval towns of France and Switzerland. She mentioned many historical personages, events and sights in her journal, with great attention to detail. Her last trip with Anne through a number of European countries and the Russian Empire, including Georgia, must be one of those life achievements many of us can only dream of even today.

Have you visited any of the countries Ann visited? Do you like history and make a priority out of sightseeing when you travel somewhere? Did any of the sights you have seen disappoint you, like some did Ann, who is known to throw shade on things she didn’t like?

8) Ann was also a hiker and a mountaineer reaching the summits of several mountains in the Alps and the Pyrenees with Anne. The adventure of crossing the Alps was breathtaking enough, but Ann pushed herself to the top and followed Anne fearlessly into new adventures.

Do you have an adventurous spirit? Are you a keen hiker or a mountaineer? Tell us about that time when you reached the top and enjoyed the experience of it for a long time afterwards. 

There are many more details we know about Ann that inspire us. We know she loved her family, she was caring and devoted to her aunt and her sister, nieces and nephews and to Anne and the Listers. We know she was a religious person and (probably) more focused on the content of Sunday sermons than Anne was! There are many things about Ann we don’t know for certain yet, but we will work on getting to know her better in the future. If you would like to get involved in helping find out more details of her life, please contact us at insearchofannwalker@gmail.com

To submit your story about how Ann inspires you please use this google form https://forms.gle/1uxKgtWZWLpf1tnE9

We will post these stories on our website, in time for Ann’s birthday – 20th May 2021, with your permission

Or you can share with us how Ann inspires you on Twitter and Facebook and use the #AnnWalkerBirthdayChallenge

Written by Ivana Nika

In Search Of Ann Walker

Researching Ann Walker in the archives and online - Ensuring her legacy is continued.


  • Lynne Miller

    When I first read of these events, (I believe in a posted diary transcription), I was blown away by Anne Walker’s bravery.

    I noted that despite their recent disagreements and the malicious newspaper “marriage announcements” earlier in the year, on 26 September 1835 Ann Walker gave a speech with Anne Lister at the laying of the foundation stone for the Northgate Hotel/Casino.
    Details of the day below are from AL’s Diaries as quoted on p190 -1 of Jill Liddington’s – Female Fortune (new 2019 edition) .

    The lead plaque in the “time capsule” as well as AW speech are interesting and though AW’s “home” address was not given as Shibden Hall but her “ancestral” home of Cliff Hill and as “Miss Ann Walker the younger” , it contained the words ” in the name and at the request of her particular friend, Miss Anne Lister of Shibden Hall….”

    I would be interested to read the local newspaper reports of of the day, both AL’s and AW’s speeches and any reports of what was recorded on the “time capsule” plaque in the press at the time.

    The articles may have already been found and reprinted/quoted.
    If you know of any links could you please add them to the website along with an “official” WYAS transcription of AL’s Diary, for that day (if one is available).
    Apologies if this already exists and I have not spotted it.

    To me Ann Walker that day made a statement to Halifax “society” and to anyone with the eyes to see it.