Shibden Hall paintings

Shibden Hall has fifteen oil paintings on permanent display which are original to the Hall and some have been on site for centuries. Most of them are portraits- some of known residents of the Hall by known artists and others unknown sitters and artists. We have brought together the fifteen paintings in this mini online exhibition to share with you. More is known about some of them than others. If anyone has any information about any of our artworks please do contact us.


A further selection of oil paintings belonging to the Museum Service’s collection are on display upstairs in the Guest Bedroom and the bedroom used by Anne Lister. These have been added more recently to decorate the rooms and are not connected to Shibden’s history.


There is another permanent display of oil paintings at Smith Art Gallery in Brighouse and paintings on display at Bankfield Museum and in Halifax and Todmorden Town Halls, as well as in changing exhibitions across our sites. The Museum Service’s entire collection of oil paintings can be viewed and searched online here: https://artuk.org/visit/collection/calderdale-metropolitan-borough-council-282

Please note- all images are copyright Calderdale Museums Service. Please contact us if you would like permission to reproduce.


The Housebody

The Housebody is the central room at Shibden Hall. There are eight paintings on display in the housebody high on the walls and all of them are portraits. 

Samuel Lister (1673-1702) by unknown artist

Samuel Lister (1673-1702)  inherited Shibden from his father in 1694, just six years before he died without issue. The Hall then passed to his Uncle John’s grandson, James Lister (1673-1729). The portrait of him below hangs over the door into the Housebody.

Mr and Mrs Jonathan Hall by unknown artist

This pair of matching oval portraits shown below have been displayed above the fireplace for over a century. The Halls are believed to have been friends of the Lister family. There is no record of the artist or date.

Jonathan Hall

Woman and child. Unknown sitters and artist

Sadly we do not know who the subject of this painting is or the artists. It has been displayed in the Housebody for at least 100 years.


Man with Rose. Unknown sitter and artist

Similarly, we unfortunately do not know the subject or artist of this painting.

Anne Lister (1765-1836) painted by Thomas Binns

This unusual front facing portrait is mentioned in Anne Lister’s diaries as being sat for by her Aunt in 1833. She wanted to commission a portrait of her sister Marian but she refused, Instead she commissioned a painting of Shibden valley as a present for her. It was painted by John Horner and hangs on the staircase, see details below.

Anne Lister lived at Shibden Hall with her brother James. They were later joined by their niece, also called Anne in 1815, and after her brother's death in 1826, her other brother Jeremy (niece Anne's father) and his second daughter Marian lived with her at Shibden.    

Binns was a young Halifax based artist in 1833 when commissioned for this work, recommended to the Listers by John Horner. Anne Lister's letters to her Aunt at the time record them bemoaning the length of time Aunt Anne had to sit for him to paint her.

Anne Lister (1791-1840) by Joshua Horner

Anne moved into Shibden Hall with her unmarried Aunt and Uncle in 1815. She would inherit a share of Shibden in 1826 after her Uncle’s death and the full estate in 1836 after the deaths of her aunt, Anne and father, Jeremy.

Anne recorded in her diary being sketched for a portrait, but it is not known if she lived to see this one completed. She knew the Horner’s well and had previously commissioned both John (1784-1867) and his son Joshua (1812-1881) for paintings and sketches of her plans for Shibden Hall.    

This painting was conserved and cleaned more recently after a swallow managed to get into the housebody and left its mark on Anne Lister's shoulder. There are also two smaller portraits displayed at Shibden Hall purportedly of Anne Lister. 

James Lister (1748-1826) by Joshua Horner

James lived at Shibden Hall with his sister Anne and they were later joined by their niece Anne in 1815 who would later inherit Shibden. We believe this painting was completed after his death in 1826 by Joshua Horner (1812-1881).

The Staircase

The staircase from the Housebody was added by Anne Lister when the Housebody was extended. The space was created by reducing the adjacent room, the Buttery and adding the ornate carved staircase up to the second floor. There is a portrait at the bottom of the stairs and large landscape as you walk up the stairs.


Reverend John Lister (1703-1759) by unknown artist

Reverend John Lister did not marry and when he died in a hunting accident the ownership of the Hall passed to his brothers James and then Samuel; whose portraits hang in the Dining Room. This painting matches the two in the dining room and was completed at the same time with all three brothers being painted. The painted 'rounding off' of the portraits was a popular feature of the time, even though they were hung in square frames.

Oil painting of Shibden Dale by John Horner

Anne Lister recorded in her diary offering to commission a portrait of her sister, but Marian did not wish to sit for one. Instead she gifted her sister this painting of Shibden valley by John Horner (1784-1867). Horner was based in Halifax and advertised as a Drawing Master and Painter. 

The Dining Room

The Dining Room is entered from the Housebody and has a pair of portraits and an interior painting of the Housbody in display. 

Dining Room

Pair of portraits of brothers James Lister (1705-1763) and Samuel Lister (1706-1766) by an unknown artist

These portraits shown above and right, were restored by local artist John Horner (1784-1867) and reframed by Millbourne & Sons, London, ordered by Anne Lister (1791-1840) in 1833. Horner suggested the paintings were by Thomas Hudson (1701-1779).

James inherited Shibden after his brother Reverend John Lister died in 1759 until his death in 1763 when it passed to Samuel, who died in 1766. Both brothers worked in the cloth trade.


Oil painting of Shibden Housebody by Henry Sykes (1855-1921), dated 1877

This painting hangs above the fireplace in the dining room. There seems to have been an earlier watercolour version, possibly by Sykes. The paintings are very similar, but in the oil painting, the dog has changed and where a woman was standing at the table, she has been erased and a faint outline of a woman can be seen at the bottom of the stairs. 

The Study

The small Study at Shibden has several bookcases, a longcase clock and a tall bureau, so only wall space for one painting.



Reverend John Lister (1703-1759) by Richard Lynes

There are two paintings listed as being Revered John Lister and they are quite similar, but not necessarily the same person. This one shown to the right, which hangs in the Study is signed Richard Lynes but the other, at the bottom of the housebody (pictured above) staircase, is unsigned.

The Red Room

The Red Room was the largest bedroom in the Hall. It is named after a red frieze which runs around the top of the paneling. There is just one painting in this room.


Red Room

Man in Armour by unknown artist

There is no record of the sitter or artist of this painting, shown left. There is a mention of the painting of the 'man in armour' between Anne Lister and her Aunt in correspondence in 1833, but they don't seem to have knowledge of who he is either. They are discussing reframing some of the paintings at Shibden and deciding between this one and possibly the painting below. Anne writes 'I think Mrs K had best be done up first because she is best painted, and because the gentleman's name should be more rigorously determined before he gets his promotion.'

Portrait of an unknown lady by unknown artist

This painting is included last as it is currently being conserved by Critchlow & Kukkonen in Sheffield. It was not displayed but in store and had become loose in its frame and stretcher and was in need of cleaning and remounting and some minor repairs. You can also see the surface dirt on the image shown to the right and we look forward to sharing the cleaner version soon. There is no signature or information on the painting but we believe it was listed as ‘Unknown Lady’, but later had a label attached which said ‘Mrs Knaplock?’ Anne Lister and her Aunt discuss reframing 'Mrs Knaplock' in their 1833 letters, and looking at the similarity of the frame to those they did reframe at the time it is likely to be this one.

Painting conservation is a highly skilled and time-consuming job and this painting will cost around £3,000.00 to conserve to help preserve it for the future and enable us to put the painting back on display. We have used donation money given by visitors to our sites to undertake this. Once finished the portrait will be hung in the Savile Room at Shibden Hall. We do not know where it originally hung at Shibden and it seems to have been stored for many decades.