The Bradford Telegraph and Argus, Saturday, 5 December, 1931




Tucked away among the hills surrounding Halifax are many fine examples of domestic architecture of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Barkisland, directly south of Halifax and a short distance from West Vale, is particularly rich in them, and boasts at least two stately mansions, in addition to several sturdy farm houses of interesting design.

Barkisland is about six miles from Halifax, and the Halifax trams run to West Vale, within about two miles of it; while the nearest station, about a mile away, is Ripponden.

The place may be said to have local associations, for one of the mansions already mentioned was built by a member of the Horton family, of Great and Little Horton. This is Howroyde Hall.

Over the north doorway of this hall are the initials and date: "W.H. 1642 E.H." and these initials relate to William Horton and his family.

In an ancient record of the family, written on vellum, and at one time preserved at Howroyde Hall, it sets out that their original settlement seems to have been at Horton in Bradford-dale, in Yorkshire. It goes back to one Robert de Horton, who had his manor at Horton long before the days of Henry Lacy, the particulars having been taken from a deed that is "very antient and of a Saxon character."

The record continues:-

"This lordship of Horton, which thus clearly belonged to a family who took their name from it, is divided into two hamlets, viz, Horton Magna and Horton Parva; the first containing twenty-seven oxgangs and a half, the latter about eighteen oxgangs. It continued in the name of Horton till the lands belonging to that family came to the Leventhorpes by marriage; from the Leventhorpes it also went by marriage with Alice, sister and heir of one Oswald Leventhorpe, to John Lacy Esq., a descendant of whom called also John Lacy, sold it to Joshua Horton, of Sowerby, Esq., a younger branch of the above family of Horton, whose great great grandson Sir Watts Horton, of Chadderton, in Lancashire, baronet, now enjoys it."

Thus from Barkisland we get many interesting details of Great and Little Horton; but what a pity that the names have been changed from Horton Magna and Horton Parva!

Further on we are given details of how Howroyde Hall came into possession of the Horton family.

"This estate, in 1419, which is the date of the oldest deed we have seen relating to it, was the property of one William Woodhead, of Barsland (another spelling of Barkisland), after which it came to the several names of Gledhill, Birtenshall, Hanson, Firth, and Mouldson, till the year 1639 . . . . when William Horton, of Firth House, gentleman, son and heir apparent of William Horton, of Barkisland, gentleman, bought it of Thomas Mouldson, who then lived at it, and in this name it has continued ever since."

The Hortons are mentioned as having settled at Barkisland, by Cudworth, in his "Rambles Round Horton."

It will be seen that there was a hall here before William Horton built the present one in 1642, and it has been suggested that Horton simply encased the old hall with the present outer walls, and probably at the same time enlarged it, for there are portions of the interior which are of greater age than 1642.

Howroyde Hall, which is now the residence of Mrs. Marchetti, though still, I believer, in the possession of the Horton family, is approached by a long and well-wooded drive, and occupies a commanding position some distance removed from the village of Barkisland, which it overlooks across a valley.

It faces south, and overlooks a centuries-old lawn on which is an ancient sundial, beneath which we noticed an old quern which has probably been unearthed in the district.

Barkisland Hall (photo), the other ancient mansion, stands at the foot of the village, which practically consists of one steep and narrow street. This is, indeed, a stately building, entered by a "three decker" porch surmounted by a rose window.

Over the doorway of this is the date 1638, with the initials J.G.-S.G., relating to John Gledhill and his wife, Sarah. William Horton, who built Howroyde Hall, married an Elizabeth Gledhill, and thus the two estates eventually came into the one family.

Barkisland Hall is now used as a farm, but in the days of the Gledhills it would be an important centre of social life, for opposite the entrance gates are some cottages which were once the kennels of Barkisland, in the days when the Gledhills hunted the surrounding country.

Unlike Howroyde Hall, Barkisland Hall is close to the roadside, and can be seen by all who pass through the village.

Richard Gledhill served on the side of the Royalists during the Civil Wars, and was knighted for gallantry, but was killed in action near York in 1644. It was his sister Elizabeth whom William Horton had married some time previously.

The Gledhills took a great interest in the affairs of Barkisland even after they removed from the place, for I find that by the will of Sarah Gledhill, of London, "late of Barkisland," dated 13 October 1657, that she did "give and bequeath the sum of two hundred pounds current English money unto the use of a school master, for teaching such poor children of the township of Barkisland, whose parents are, or shall not be able, to bring them up in learning."

One of the executors of that will was Elizabeth Horton. The Hortons, too, were benefactors, and left sums to be distributed among certain people. The school house stood at the head of the village, but has since been converted into houses.

On passing down the main street on the way to Barkisland Hall there are the remains of a market cross on the left of the street, while a little lower down and on the right of the road are the village stocks.

Two fine old homesteads are passed on the way which, were they not overshadowed by the large halls, would make a visit to the village worthwhile.

Barkisland has not altered much through the ages, but had the scheme been carried through of making the broadcasting station here instead of at Slaithwaite, it might have had an important bearing on the future of the place.

J. C. H.

See also "Barkisland Hall and the Family of Gledhill"

Map of the original "Gledhill Country" in the West Riding of Yorkshire