Yesterday, once the 26th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf ended, about a dozen of us opted to take the 90-minute bus trip to Giggleswick, the village that houses Giggleswick School. The outing was put together as the final official event of this year’s Woolf conference.
It was at Giggleswick School where Woolf’s cousin Will Vaughan served as headmaster. And she stayed with him and his wife Madge in the headmaster’s home during the period of time in which she made her trip to the Brontë Parsonage in November 1904.
The weather was quite English; it rained from the moment we got off the bus until we boarded it again. Our gracious hosts at Giggleswick School treated us to a beautifully laid tea and a look inside the headmaster’s house.
We then split up, with a few of us heading to Giggleswick Chapel. It took four years to build and was finished in 1901, so was quite new when Woolf visited. There, we were given an informative tour by Barbara Gent, the school’s librarian and archivist, and a concert of organ and piano music by the school’s music director, James Taylor, and the chapel’s organist, Philip Broadhouse.
Afterward, Anne Reus, who assisted with organizing the conference and is a Ph.D. student at Leeds Trinity University, shepherded us to The Black Horse Pub, where we ordered a hot meal while sheltering from the cold rain. With immense dedication, she ran back and forth through that rain — without an umbrella — making sure the bus knew where to find us.
Despite the weather, every one of us was happy to be at Giggleswick — even the nine adventurers of our party who chose to go on the strenuous 6.5-mile hike up the hillside to the caves that Woolf visited when she strode out for a country walk. At the end of the day they climbed on board our bus, drenched but smiling.
After the rigorous hike, which included climbs over stiles built of rocks and treks alongside cows and sheep, Beth Rigel Daugherty said, “If I ever again hear anyone say that Woolf was fragile, I will tell them that is a lie!”
Here are some photos from the day. You can tell by these that I did not go on the walk led by indomitable conference organizer Jane deGay, but I so admire those who did. By the time we headed for Leeds, they were wet, chilled, hungry — and exhilarated.