The Yorkshire Spirit: A morning with James Wright

As the sun rises on the broad and picturesque landscapes of Yorkshire, we take this opportunity to sit down with James, House of Cheviot’s MD, to delve into his personal connection with Yorkshire and to celebrate the essence of this beautiful county, its traditions, and its contributions to the world.

For those who are unfamiliar with Yorkshire Day, it is a celebration that dates back to 1975, dedicated to all things Yorkshire. It’s a time to honour the rich history, culture, and heritage that make this region of England so special. From its rolling hills and charming villages to its warm-hearted people, Yorkshire has earned a well-deserved place in the hearts of many.

What does Yorkshire Day mean to you personally, and why is it important?

Yorkshire Day is a wonderful excuse to celebrate all that is great about Yorkshire, as we say in Yorkshire,  ‘God’s own country’, from millstone grit and heather clad moors, stunning dales and drystone walls, cobbled village streets and ancient mills, fields of sheep and muddy boots, to Yorkshire puddings and gravy, mugs of tea and real pies and of course Yorkshire folk and flat caps without which there’d be nowt!

How do you celebrate Yorkshire Day? Are there any specific traditions or activities you engage in?

For me many a Yorkshire Day has come and gone without much thought but now I’ll hoist the Yorkshire flag, drape bunting across the yard, walk a moorland path, maybe to Wuthering Heights, enjoy a pint of ‘Mary Jane’ or ‘Black Sheep’ at the local Cow and Calf and celebrate with Yorkshire folk and puddings or something of the sort. A walk in our ancient and local bluebell woods is also a family pleasure shared.

What do you think makes Yorkshire unique and different from other regions in UK?

The people, their friendly welcome and ever ready cuppa and real pies with bottoms. The extensive brooding landscapes and changing skies, the hills and purple moorland leading down each dale to valleys and rivers.  The famous Cow and Calf Rocks we can see from our house and which feature in our daughters’ wedding photos. Brimham Rocks where we can step back into the midst of time when dinosaurs roamed the earth, and of course the most famous of all, the Yorkshire anthem “On Ilkla Moor baht ‘at”.

How has growing up in Yorkshire influenced your identity and values?

To know my warp and weft and grow a passion for textiles and tweed which in business led me north and across the border into Scotland to create the House of Cheviot, the home of the finest kilt and country socks, with my real home still being rooted in Yorkshire. We are also known for our deep pockets!

Can you share a memorable Yorkshire Day experience or a favourite Yorkshire tradition?

A family walk up over the steep hills around the village of Buckden then along the river in upper Wharfedale finishing at the old ‘Buck Inn’ with a proper steak and ale pie (with a bottom), served with chips, vegetables and gravy and a pint of ‘Buckden Pike’ followed by Theakston’s Best Bitter and a lift home!

Yorkshire is known for its stunning landscapes. Which place in Yorkshire holds a special meaning to you, and why?

I could mention the Yorkshire Three Peaks, Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-y Ghent and the great beauty of the many and varied Yorkshire Dales but there is nothing like home so, Ilkley Moor that I have known most of my life, reveals some stunning and dramatic landscapes up the valley to Bolton Abbey and beyond and down the valley towards the Vale of York.

Yorkshire has a rich cultural heritage. Which aspect of its culture or history do you find most fascinating?

I love to drive along the country roads through villages and towns past abbeys, mills, farms and fields with a particular interest in the rich heritage associated with wool and its future as today many fleeces go to waste. Yorkshire Tea and a ‘Fat Rascal’ at Betty’s is an occasional but expensive treat, although I much prefer a traditional Sunday roast with roast beef and homemade Yorkshire puddings and lashings of rich gravy which sadly is all too rare these days due to time, cost and our rare consumption of red meat, but perhaps could be revived through the simpler more traditional meal of just Yorkshire puds and gravy.

What do you believe are the most significant contributions Yorkshire has made to the world?

From medieval times the wool trade became increasingly important in Yorkshire such that by the 1850s Bradford was one of the richest cities in the world, the wool capital, processing around two thirds of the world’s production. Today wool is but a shadow of its former self but sheep farming is still extensive throughout the dales and in the spring the sight of lambs frolicking in the fields is one to look forward to. In addition, Yorkshire Tea, Yorkshire puddings and Wensleydale cheese are world renowned.  Perhaps one of the most famous Yorkshire men of all was William Wilberforce who fought for most of his political life for the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire which was enacted in 1883. Sadly, slavery still persists in various forms around the world today so the fight for justice must still go on.

How do you think Yorkshire Day helps to promote and preserve Yorkshire’s culture and heritage?

Yorkshire Day is a great day to blow our trumpet and celebrate the great county we live in, ‘God’s own country’, but equally it should be a day when we give thanks, looking to share the richness more equally and protect our heritage for future generations.

In your opinion, what is the best thing about being a Yorkshireman?

Honesty, and down to earthiness.  Now, the best thing about being a ‘Yorkshireman’ is being able to reveal that I was really born on t’ other side of t’ ’ill in bonny Lancashire… by ‘eck lad, now I’ve gone and spilled t’ beans! My wife tells me that I must add that Yorkshire is where we met, so really that is the best thing about this beautiful county!

The House of Cheviot, rooted in the heart of the Scottish Borders but with a strong connection to Yorkshire’s traditional values, has been crafting quality socks and accessories since its establishment in 2002. Our socks are not just items of clothing; they are knitted tales of heritage, heritage that transcends borders and embodies the spirit of Yorkshire.

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