Hannah Hauxwell (1926-2018) was emblematic of the tough, resourceful upland farmers of North Yorkshire and County Durham. Having run her family farm, Low Birk Hatt in Baldersdale, since the death of her parents and uncle when she was 35, Hauxwell lived a life of unmodernised poverty and hardship. She featured in a documentary about her daily life in 1972 made by Yorkshire Television.
Hauxwell was a hoarder, and her dilapidated farmhouse was packed to the rafters. Amongst her possessions were these family quilts, which were stored in a linen press for many years. Some appear never to have been used. All the women in her family were very accomplished seamstresses, and Hannah herself was very good with a needle. Indeed, she had a mattress filled with straw that she had made from a unique patchwork of fabrics. Most of the quilts have been made using the same pattern of quilting stitches – perhaps a family pattern – and interestingly they each have three rounded and one squared corner. One quilt is initialed ‘E B’, who is likely Hannah’s grandmother, Elizabeth Bayles, who worked the tapestry also included in the sale.
The quilts will be auctioned on 9 February 2019.