The nights are getting longer, leaves are falling and the temperature has dropped by what feels like 20 degrees in the space of a couple of weeks. It can only mean one thing…autumn is here!

We’ve been having a rummage through our collections to celebrate the best of the season.

Hop Pickers

In 1934, artist Thérèse Lessore moved to Kent, where autumn’s hop harvest provided a rich source of material for her painting. Each September, a huge migration of London East Enders, itinerants and travellers arrived to join the local men, women and children for the hop picking.

‘Hop Pickers’, pictured above, showcases the extraordinary labour force that was needed to collect the hops from the tendril-like growths trained up strings onto a network of poles and wires set out across the fields. Handpicking continued until the 1960s, when it was replaced by mechanical methods.

Strike a pose

Levitating Woman 'The Dreamer' by Quentin Bell.
Quentin Bell, Levitating Woman ‘The Dreamer’, 1982. Pictured in Clothworkers Court, University of Leeds. Image credit University of Leeds.

There’s no better time of year to explore the University of Leeds campus than autumn. As the leaves start to turn fiery shades of orange and red, it’s the perfect opportunity to get creative with a camera. We think “Levitating Woman ‘The Dreamer'” by Quentin Bell, part of our Public Art Trail, looks particularly fabulous with the bright red backdrop of the leaves on the Great Hall. Be the envy of all your Instagram followers, and share your photos with us by tagging @LULGalleries. You might even get a feature on our page!

Have your cake and eat it too…

The Yorkshire institution of parkin is not one to be underestimated, and the sticky treacle cake really comes into its own as the nights draw in. Bonfire Night would simply not be the same without it! If you’ve never made your own before, why not give this recipe a go? It was written in notes from the Survey of English Dialects response books, part of our Leeds Archive of Vernacular Culture.


500g oatmeal250g butter
500g muscovado sugar250g golden syrup
375g plain flour125g black treacle
1½ tsp ground ginger½ pint milk
½ tsp baking powder


Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4, then line a 15x20cm/6x8in, or similar size, baking tin with greaseproof paper.
In a pan, gently melt the butter, golden syrup, black treacle and sugar until combined. Then mix the remaining dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
Add the hot syrup mixture and stir to combine and add the milk to help loosen the mixture.
Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the parkin is springy to the touch.

Explore the collection on our website.

Spooky season

Double, double, toil and trouble…

“Malleus maleficarum” or “Hammer of Witches” is a 15th century book that explains how to find and convict ‘witches’.

This copy was once kept in an abbey in Germany and it is believed the annotations inside were added in the 16th century. Serpents, toads and bats adorn the cover of this wicked witch-hunt book.

And if the pieces we’ve featured in this post are right up your alley, take a visit to Treasures of the Brotherton and The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery. Based in the University of Leeds’ Parkinson Building, the Galleries are free to all, and display highlights from our Special Collections and the University Art Collection.
Visit our website to find out more and plan your visit.