Guide to the Tolson Memorial Museum and Ravensknowle Park (1931) by T.W. Woodhead

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T olson Memorial Museum.



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This brief account of the Tolson Memorial Museum and Ravensknowle Park, has been issued to meet a demand for a simple outline of the collections, and to serve as an introduction to the more detailed Handbooks dealing with particular periods of local history and special collections in the Museum, a list. of which is given on p. 4 of cover. At this early stage in its development, many sections of the Museum are incomplete, but thanks to the interest and generosity of specialists and the public in general, additions are constantly being made ; while it is the endeavour of the Staff to collect material, arrange and prepare the objects so as to fill the gaps and make the story more complete. The aim is not mainly to accumulate specimens, but rather to collect and preserve things of value, to illustrate and help us to understand the factors of our environment and the influence of

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Eleven years ago (1919) the people of Huddersfield received from Mr. Legh Tolson the most generous gift in the history of the Borough, viz., Ravensknowle Hall and six acres of ground, and on May 14th, 1921, they were opened to the public. (Fig. 1). An undertaking was given to develop the gift as a Local Museum on

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names and date 1816. On the roof is the handsome cupola, with clock and bell, which formerly regulated the time of commencing and terminating the business of the day. On this bell is the inscription DALTON: FECIT: YORK: 1781. The dials of the clock are made of sandstone slabs, four feet two inches in diameter.

Beneath this are preserved the two tablets recording its original erection in 1766, and enlargements in 1780 and 1848. The Cloth Hall was originally a one-storey building, and erected by Sir John Ramsden in 1766 to meet the needs of local clothiers, who up to that time had no covered market for the sale of their goods, and so successful was it that it had to be enlarged, and another storey added, by his son, Sir John Ramsden, in 1780, and again restored and improved by his grandson, Sir John William Ramsden, in 1848.

For greater safety, light was admitted entirely from within, there being no windows on the outside of the cloth shops; running through the centre was the main hall, which remained one storey to the last; this was paved with flagstones, and the rush- plaster ceiling was supported by a row of fine stone pillars. In 1864, two side trancepts were added, so dividing the interior into four courts, and the hall provided about 600 cloth stands. In the days of the hand loom, and when the clothing trade was a Domestic Industry, the Cloth Hall was a great asset, and it is difficult at this day to realise all that it has meant in the development of our staple trade. The handsome doorway, which formed the entrance to the Cloth Hall from Sergeantson Street, is being preserved as an entrance to the park from Ravensknowle Road.

The Cloth Hall was not a circular building, but somewhat oval in outline. The entrance from Cloth Hall Street faced nearly east, and running through it from E. to W. was the main hall. The diameter of the building was 205 feet, the entrance hall projecting 15 feet beyond. At right angles, through the trancepts (N. to S.) the building was 240 feet, the whole structure having a circumference of 700 feet.

The grounds at Ravensknowle are beautifully laid out, and the wealth of bloom in summer is greatly appreciated. The tropical corner, pergola, herbaceous borders, and flowerbeds, together with the belt of trees, form a frame to the bowling green which, for beauty of colour and outline, would be difficult to beat. Near the bowling green is the meteorological station where numerous readings are taken from the instruments three times a day and supplied to

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sundial, made and presented by the late Mr. Hadaway, rests on a large ice-borne boulder from the glacial deposits at Hillhouse. The value of Ravensknowle is being further increased by the addition of five acres of ground for a playing field, and not only Dalton but the Borough as a whole is the richer

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Room 1 deals with the formation, composition and disintegra- tion of the rocks and the development and significance of local I scenery ; here are fourteen models illustrating local geology and how

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and habitats, and form a very popular section of the Museum. This room, an extension of the Museum, is lighted from the roof and was specially built to house this collection. It was opened to the public by Prof. W. Garstang on December 5th, 1925. Since then the collection has been greatly enlarged and many important additions have been made illustrating the biology of Birds, also the results of breeding experiments with fowls.


Room 8 is devoted to mammals, and contains some beautiful and interesting specimens. The

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many workshops on these hills at the end of the Paleolithic Period. (See Handbook III. ‘Early Man in the District of Huddersfield.’’)

The case of stratified remains from the moors near Marsden, extending from the end of the Old Stone Age, through Neolithic and Bronze Age, to Roman times, is of universal interest. The numerous Roman remains in this room are from Slack, Outlane, and give a good idea of the objects found in a Roman Camp and articles in common use during the Roman occupation. There are the Brigantean coins from Castle Hill, Almondbury, and the coins and antiquities found at Honley, including the unique coin of Queen Cartimandua ; also many plans and photographs of ancient camps and earthworks. The Roman pottery in the adjoining Room 11, is of special value for dating purposes, and has attracted much attention from students of Roman Britain. (See Handbook IV., ‘‘ Huddersfield in Roman Times.’’) This room (11) contains a very representative collection of casts, specially prepared for the Museum, of sculptured stones of the Angles, Danes and Norse found in the locality, and are evidence of the introduction of Christianity into this neighbourhood. This is the only Museum where such restorations of early Christian monuments, and showing their original colours, have been attempted. (Fig. 6). Here is a copy of Domesday Book, opened at pages containing references to many places in and around Huddersfield ; also the Court Rolls of the Manor of Almondbury, 1660—1691.


Rooms 12 and 13 contain many objects of interest relating to late medieval times, and illustrating early customs and changing habits, of things that are passing by, in the home, the school, the field of sport, and music.

The valuable collection of glass, presented by Mr. Francis Buckley, provides an excellent example of a 17th Century British industry, and the forerunner of our modern cut glass. There are many early maps; photographs illustrating local domestic architecture, also of former buildings in the town, which serve to remind us how different were our streets a generation or so ago. Here also are many copies of local tokens, used when small money was scarce. Objects of special value are the painted wooden panels which were so long associated with the great hall at Woodsome, where they hung on cranes from the oak-panelled wall.

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They are painted on both sides and contain quaint mottoes and verses, and representations of members of the Kaye family. One has a portrait of John Kaye, and on his right and left are six figures holding scrolls on which are mottoes ; the other side of the panel has sixty-six coats of arms ; one set of thirty-three are related to John Kaye, the remaining thirty-three to his wife. Below is the family motto,

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History of Ravensknowle by Legh Tolson, F.S.A.

Scheme for the Development of a Local Museum by

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