Anglo-Saxons, sanctuary and ghosts at East Riddlesden Hall

in Keighley

Settled amongst the rolling pastures of a former agricultural estate in Keighley, this 17th-century former manor house is, in fact, the latest in a line of properties to inhabit this particular site but stands no less picturesque today than any of the previous properties built here. With references to families inhabiting the estate land since the Anglo-Saxon era, it was the de Maude family in the Middle Ages who first constructed a single-storey hall house, some of the fabric of which remains as part of one of the wings (the majority was demolished in 1905).

When the Paslew family took ownership in the 15th century, a new house was constructed to the west of the main hall before it passed down the lines of several families, with disputes over ownership arising along the way. So much so, the estate ended up being tenanted out, and from the lesser gentry owners, in came a slew of working-class farmers.

Still, it was during this contentious era that the medieval house was almost entirely rebuilt, around 1630, by the Yorkshire industrialist tycoon James Murgatroyd of Warley—who even allegedly leased the hall to the Starkie family without his sibling’s knowledge. It was also during this era that the property was a place of solace for Catholics who hid out at the hall when Catholicism was condemned during the Elizabethan period.

In the early 20th century the estate began to be sold off until the Brigg brothers saved it from demolition in 1933. They purchased the estate and gifted it back to the National Trust.

Today, it is considered one of the best-preserved examples of a 17th-century vernacular dwelling in the Yorkshire area and continues to draw visitors to its extraordinary architecture and enveloping surroundings, which include a grass maze and duckpond all laid out in a beautiful country garden—not to mention the endless reported ghostly spectres that have been allegedly witnessed throughout the grounds.

Books by Dr Emma Wells

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