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History Of Wensleydale Needs Your Help
P Metcalfe of Shoregill, Swaledale making cheese in 1939, taken from Hartley and Ingilby’s Life and Tradition in the Yorkshire Dales book (with permission)
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the publishing of Marie Hartley and Joan Ingilby’s masterpiece, ‘Life and Tradition in the Yorkshire Dales’, The Courtyard Dairy and The Yorkshire Dales Historical Society are seeking help in their quest to find out all there is to know about genuine farmhouse Wensleydale cheese.

“Hartley and Ingilby’s book included photos of a long-lost method of making farmhouse Wensleydale, which is fascinating”, says Andy Swinscoe, owner of The Courtyard Dairy cheese shop and museum near Settle, adding, “We’d like to find out as much as there is to know about how small farms and housewives made cheese on the farm and in their own homes.

The book is useful as a record of the way people historically lived and farmed in the Dales, but we’re seeking to find out even more about cheese-making in particular.”

To celebrate the anniversary of the publishing of the book, The Courtyard Dairy is running an event in September, as part of The Yorkshire Dales Cheese Festival, at which they will try to replicate producing Wensleydale cheese exactly as it was done on the farm in the 1930’s.

Andy Swinscoe making cheese
To make sure they do this as accurately as possible, however, they are asking anyone who knows about historical Dales cheese-making to get in touch.

“We suspect that many people have cheese-making items, photographs or information hidden away in lofts and cupboards – treasures that would be seriously useful to us to help discover exactly how farmhouse cheese was made in those days,” says Andy Swinscoe.

“Over the last year we’ve luckily discovered some farmers’ wives’ hand-written cheese recipes, and a few bits of equipment, but we know there’s much more out there – we think that many people could have hidden gems in their attic or stored away, and we’d love to see them!”

Andy is asking that anyone who has any information, notes or equipment that are related to Dales cheese-making, or that might have been used to make cheese or butter in the Dales, to contact him on 01729 823 391 or by email to andy@thecourtyarddairy.co.uk.

“Please get in touch if you have anything of interest,” he says, “and help me to build up the most detailed profile ever of Wensleydale, the most traditional of Yorkshire cheeses.

History Of Wensleydale Needs Your Help, 10th February 2018, 9:22 AM