Holmfirth Express (10/Feb/1934) - Cook's Study is Doomed

The following article was kindly provided by Alan Brooke (Underground Histories).

The following is a transcription of a historic newspaper article and may contain occasional errors. If the article was published prior to 1 June 1957, then the text is likely in the Public Domain.



Cook’s Study is doomed. This historic Holmfirth landmark is being demolished in order to extend an adjacent stone quarry.

This announcement will be received with deep regret by many people, for, tumbledown as the building has become as a result of its exposure to the fierce storms and raging winds, it was still regarded as a treasured relic and oft were the times when people would make long journeys to see it and to capture for themselves an impression of what they imagined to be its romantic associations.

Cook’s Study — this is the name by which the building is familiarly known, but it is not the correct one — is situated 1,486 feet above sea level, and it was possible to obtain an excellent view of it from either the moors above Holmfirth or Greenfield, or from the Woodhead Valley.

Many facts relating to the history of the building are unknown, but “E.B.S.,” a local gentleman who has shown great industry in his pursuit of scattered pieces of information regarding Cook’s Study, has been able to shed much light on the matter. Much of this information has been published previously in these columns, but we need offer no apology for reprinting it on this occasion.

“E.B.S.” writes: The date when the original building known as “Cook’s Study” was erected seems to be in doubt, but it certainly was in existence in the early part of last century. There also seems to be some doubt as to whether the building was constructed of wood or of stone.

Various reasons have been given as to why the building was erected, but the must feasible one seems to be that it was erected by a man named Cook who built it to study astronomy.

In regard to the history of the present, building, information is more accessible, and the reason for the erection of this structure appears to be as follows: More than a century ago a sculptor named Chantrey migrated from a district near Sheffield to London, where he achieved fame in his profession, lie carved several of the busts which are installed in the Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey, and he also executed carvings at several of the English Cathedrals, and, as a result of this work, he received a knighthood and thus became Sir Francis L. Chantrey.

The father of the late Sir Walter S. Stanhope, of Cannon Hall, Cawthorne, who owned the moors where Cook’s Study was erected, invited Sir Francis to this district to view the scenery. The great sculptor was enchanted with the view from the study, but he said that in order to view the scenery to better advantage a more suitable building ought to be erected, and he promised to draw the plans for such a building.

The plans were eventually drawn, and the Stanhope family erected the building in the same year in which occurred the Holmfirth Flood (82 years ago), and the building was named “Chantrey Tower.” This name was inscribed on a stone over the door and below the name of the year of erection was inscribed (in Roman characters), 1852.

Many people have, however, always spoken of the present building (or what remains of it) by the old name of “Cook’s Study,” which, of course, is incorrect.

There was a benchmark on the building showing the altitude to be 1,486 feet above sea level.

A few years after this building was erected there was a serious affray between a gang of poachers and the keepers of the moors, which ended in some, if not all of the poachers being sent to gaol. One of the keepers named Webster lived at Chantrey Tower, and on the 8th of April, 1860, while he was away, some person or persons broke into the tower and set fire to it. It was never discovered who was responsible for this act. but it was believed by many people at the time that the men who had been imprisoned had set fire to the Tower for revenge. The heat from the fire cracked the building in several places, and although the owners of the Tower built buttresses to support the cracked walls the cracks gradually widened until at last part of the building fell away. This made a way for the high winds to get into the building, and during severe storms further portions of the building have been, torn away until now very little remains of what was once a famous landmark. Some years after the fire the Stanhope family built a house for their keeper near the Tower.