‘Durham’ quilt owned by hill farmer Hannah Hauxwell which was bought by the Bowes Museum at Tennants for £1500.

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Hauxwell  assumed something close to celebrity status after appearing in the 1972 documentary Too Long a Winter.

Emblematic of the tough, resourceful upland farmers of the North Country, she lived on her own at Low Birk Hatt Farm in Baldersdale without electricity or running water living on an annual stipend of £250-280 a year.

“I put the brake on and keep it on,” she said. Donations flooded in and she was able to have electricity installed.

As something of a hoarder, Hauxwell’s dilapidated farmhouse was packed to the rafters.

Among her possessions were the family ‘Durham’ quilts, many seemingly unused and stored in a linen press for many years. Most were made using the same quilting stitch – perhaps a family pattern – and have the quirk of three rounded and one squared corner each.

The most coveted example was a ‘strippy’ quilt made with bands of printed cotton and initialled EB, probably for Hauxwell’s grandmother, Elizabeth Bayles.

Estimated at £300-500, it sold for £1500 (plus 20% buyer’s premium) and will become part of the Bowes Museum’s North Country quilt collection.


Hannah Hauxwell.

Joanna Hashagen, curator of fashion and textiles at Bowes said: “I felt strongly that this particular quilt is very important, both artistically and historically. Very unusually, it is signed with the initials for Elizabeth Bayles, who lived in the Hunderthwaite area of Teesdale all her life.”

Also from the Hauxwell farmhouse was a group of 19th century carved wood knitting sheaths, designed to hold double-ended knitting needles. The top-selling sheath was again initialled EB and sold for £850 against an estimate of £100-150.


Knitting sheath – £850 at Tennants.