Baines' Directory (1822) - Kirklees Hall

The following section is reproduced from Baines' Directory: History, Directory and Gazetteer of the County of York, Volume 1 (1822) compiled by Edward Baines.

For the transcription of professions, entries have been reformatted to: firstname surname, location (extra details)

The following is a transcription of a historic document and may contain occasional errors.

Kirklees Hall

Kirklees Hall, in the parish of Dewbury, wap. of Agbrigg, and manor of Wakefield ; 4½ miles N. of Huddersfield. This interesting portion of the township of Hartshead, is chiefly memorable as the site of a nunnery, founded in the reign of Henry II. by one of the Reyners for Benedictines. The nunnery was situated on the verge to the south of a deep brook, hence called Nunbrook ; and though only one fragment of the house remains among the numerous buildings of a large farm yard, yet the outline diligently pursued shows that the establishment must have been of considerable extent The tomb of Elizabeth de Stainton, and another, protected by iron rails, which still remain, point out the situation of the church, and it is ascertained that the nave, transept, and choir must have been at least 150 feet long. Kirklees is also famous as the occasional residence and sepulchre of that ancient etcher and freebooter, Robin Hood, who lived in the beginning of the thirteenth century, and who according to tradition, was suffered to bleed to death by a nun, to whom he had applied to take from him a portion of his redundant blood. That such a character existed, the testimony of Peirs Plouhman, appears to decide, whether he was as the epitaph preserved by Dr. Gale, Dean of York, imports, of noble parentage, or an outlaw of humbler birth, is not equally clear, but that his mortal remains rest at Kirklees, under an ancient cross and beyond the precincts of the nunnery is generally admitted. The cross bears no inscription, but the epitaph may have been engraved upon a tomb-stone, which has ceased to exist : it is in these words :—

"Hear, undernead dis latil stean,
Lais Robert, Earl of Huntington ;
Nea arcir vir as him sa geud,
An pipl kauld him Robin Head ;
Sick utlauz az hi, an iz men,
Vil Inglande nivr si agen ;
Obit 24, Kai. Dekembris, 1247."

A statue of this renowned freebooter, large as life, leaning on his unbent bow, with a quiver of arrows and a sword by his side, formerly stood at one side of the entrance into the old hall. In the 1st of Elizabeth, Kirklees became the property of Robert Pilkington, and in the 8th of that reign it was transferred to John Armitage, in whose family it has continued to the present day. Till the time of James I. the site of the priory was the family residence, but in that reign they removed to the present more airy mansion, which is now occupied by Sir George Armitage, Bart.

In the spring of the year 1820, the tomb of the outlaw of the 13th сentury, formed one of the places of rendezvous for a popular sedition, better suited to the age of the Henries, than of the Georges. The manufacturing parts of the country had for many months laboured under extreme distress, from a failure both foreign and domestic, in the usual demand for the products of their industry. The labouring classes in consequence experienced severe privations, and a disposition to tumult and insubordination begun to prevail. On the night of Friday, the 31st of March, a simultaneous rising was appointed to take place in many of the populous villages, by which Huddersfield is surrounded, and a plan of approach from various points for the purpose of capturing the town and giving a signal of successful rebellion, by stopping the stage coaches was organised, and partly carried into effect. Towards the hour of midnight, considerable bodies of men marched from the different villages to their appointed stations, Huddersfield forming the centre and point of attack. The eastern division bivouaced near the obelisk at Kirklees, and committed some excesses on two or three persons, who were travelling in that direction; from some cause not well ascertained, but probably from the detected treachery of their instigators, the insurgents not only here, but at all the other stations dispersed suddenly, and returned to their homes without nuking their intended hostile attack. The itinerant emissaries, of which there were numbers passing about the country, represented this as a premature movement, to remedy which, the night of the Wednesday following was appointed for the breaking out of the grand rebellion, and Grange Moor, a large plain, centrally situated between Huddersfield and Barnsley, was the appointed place of rendezvous. A number of infatuated men, principally from the town and neighbourhood of Barnsley, many of them workmen out of employment, and none above the rank of labourers, repaired to the moor in the course of the night After waiting till morning in anxious expectation of the approach of a triumphant army, which they had been led to believe was advancing from the north on its route to London, they began to disperse, and their movements were considerably quickened by the appearance of a body of the king's troops from Huddersfield. As soon as the first alarm had subsided, several of the insurgents both in the neighbourhood of Huddersfield and Barnsley, to the number of twenty-two, were apprehended and committed to York castle, where they were arraigned for high treason at the summer assizes, and charged with conspiring, or intending to levy war against the king. On Monday, the 11th of September, an adjourned assize was held for the purpose of proceeding with the trials of these prisoners, but during the evening of the preceding day, an offer had been made to them by the authority of the law officers of the crown, to the effect that if they would consent to plead guilty of the charge preferred against them their lives should be spared, and the sentence of death which must be passed upon them, commuted to some more lenient punishment. Comstive, a disbanded soldier, and one of the heroes of Waterloo, who appears to have been the leader of the Barnsley division, and whose fate had the trials proceeded seemed inevitable, exerted himself with great vigour and success to obtain the acquiescence of his fellow-prisoners in this proposal, which was in the end unanimously acceded to. The prisoners on being placed at the bar, all pleaded guilty, and the final decision of the crown was, that they should all, without exception or discrimination, be transported beyond the seas for the term of seven years.

Baines' Directory (1822) - Kirklees Hall

This page was last modified on 16 November 2017 and has been edited by Dave Pattern.

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