Meltham Hall, Meltham


Meltham Hall was built circa 1841 for William Leigh Brook (1809-1855) — likely following his marriage to Charlotte Armitage — and originally stood in around 25 acres of wooded parkland and formal gardens laid out by Joshua Major of Leeds.

Brook had moved into the hall from Thornton Lodge by 1843 and, following his untimely death abroad in 1855, his eldest daughter Clara Jane Brook (1841-1863) continued live there with some of her siblings.

By 1861, Charles Brook (1814-1872) had moved his family into Meltham Hall. A few years later, he purchased Enderby Hall in Leicestershire and retired there, where he died on 10 July 1872, aged 57.

In January 1865, Brook's coachman John Freeman Hirst was out riding a young horse when it bolted out of control through Meltham before stumbling near Meltham Mills. Hirst badly damaged his ankle.[1]

By 1869, Edward Brook (1825-1904) was residing at the hall. He later purchased the Hoddom Castle in Dumfriesshire in 1877 for a reported £200,500 and retired there.

At around 11:30pm on the night of Wednesday 18 January 1871, Police Constable Booth spotted a fire had broken out in one of the greenhouses of Meltham Hall. The alarm was raised and the Meltham Mills fire engine was used to quickly bring the flames under control. Around £50 of damage was done and the cause was believed to be wood that had combusted after being left "near one of the fires to dry."[2]

In February 1871, "professional tramp" William Harrison was charged with begging. He had gone to Meltham Hall and demanded to see Edward Brook. On being told that this wasn't possible, he demanded to see Mrs. Brook. This also being denied by the servant, Harrison "used disgraceful language" before walking on to the vicarage, "where his conduct was equally insolent." He was sent to prison for a month.[3]

On 18 June 1875, a local elderly man named Allen Hollingworth stole two small trees from the greenhouses at the hall. He was caught and fined £5 5s. plus expenses.[4]

On Whit Sundays it was traditional for the Sunday school children to process through the town, visiting the great and the good of Meltham to receive small presents. In 1876, around 450 children walked through the Pleasure Grounds to the house of J.W. Carlile at Thickhollins where they each received a penny. Later on they were led by the Meltham Mills Brass Band and visited the Brooks at Meltham Hall, where they again received a penny each, before proceeding to Harewood Lodge to received oranges from Miss Brook. Next they went to Wood Cottage before returning to Thickhollins to play games in the grounds.[5]

In the summer of 1877, Edward Brook paid to have the path known locally as "The Roods" near the hall entirely rebuilt, as he felt it was becoming dangerous and slippery in winter. The path was used by a large number of workers "as a short cut from their homes to their work and back".[6]

By 1882, Thomas J. Hirst (1851-1927) was in residence at Meltham Hall.

In 1893, Hirst carried out extensions to the building, including "alterations to the butler's pantry." It was noted at the September Meltham Local Board meeting that Hirst hadn't informed the local board of his plans, but it was felt no action needed to be taken. By the next meeting, plans had been submitted and they were approved.[7] Further alterations were carried out in 1895.[8]

In April 1894, the Local Board sent notice to Hirst "to repair the Roods footpath."[9]

Plans for the construction of "a racquet court and peach houses" were approved by Meltham District Council in May 1899.[10] A few months later, plans for hen coops at the hall were also approved.[11]

In April 1905, Hirst's 8-year-old daughter Dorothy Josephine Hirst was out riding from the hall on a pony when it stumbled and she fell off. Unfortunately her dress caught on the pommel of the saddle, "and she was dragged for half a mile with her head striking the ground." A group of workmen eventually managed to halt the pony and a doctor was fetched, but Dorothy had already died from her head injuries.[12]

Charles Lewis Brook wrote to the Meteorological Magazine journal to report that on 17 June 1911 the hall was struck by lightning, causing a "globe of fire described as being about two feet in diameter" to briefly appear around "an ordinary electric light pendant from the ceiling". No damage was reported, apart from "the burning out of the safety fuse of the electric lights in the cellar".[13]

The reception for the wedding of Helen Esther Hirst to Edward Lindesay Fisher (eldest son of Sharples Fisher of Helme Hall) took place at the hall in August 1913, following the wedding service at St. James, Meltham Mills. The Meltham Mills Brass Band played a selection of music during the afternoon.[14]

Following Thomas J. Hirst's death in 1927, his wife Esther Frost Hirst remained at the the hall until her death on 9 April 1944. The contents of the hall were then auctioned a few months later in over 1,000 individual lots, including many oil and watercolour paintings, a Kodascope film projector, and silverware.[15]

According to the Yorkshire Evening Post (22/Feb/1950), Mrs. Hirst gifted the hall Meltham Urban Council. They then advertised the lease which attracted interest from Huddersfield Corporation and from West Riding County Council, who both wished to use it as a maternity home. The formation of the National Health Service led to the abandonment of the plans.[16]

In May 1950, Meltham Urban Council approved a plan to lease to the hall to David Brown Tractors Ltd at a rental of £300 per year for use as a staff dining room and social club. Other parts of the estate, including the cricket ground and Italian gardens, were retained by the Council for public use.[17]

Historic England Listing

  • Grade II
  • first listed 6 April 1967
  • listing entry number 1183888

HUDDERSFIELD ROAD (south side). Meltham Hall. Large detached residence. 1841 with late C19 addition to east. Built for William Leigh Brook. Hammer dressed stone with ashlar dressings. Deep ashlar plinth. Hipped slate roof. Two storeys. 3-bay entrance and garden fronts, 4-bay side elevation. Bay divisions are marked by giant pilasters with capitals with anthemion decoration. The pilasters are coupled on the side elevation. Broad ashlar eaves band and cornce surmounted by balustraded parapet with dies over pilasters, rounded on entrance and garden elevations, and in the form of triangular pediments on side elevation. The garden front has central ground floor bow with balcony over. Sash windows with glazing bars, in architrave surrounds. Side elevation has similar windows to 1st floor, those to ground floor having paired pilaster surrounds. Entrance front has central door with later, very elaborate porte-cochere of cast iron and glass. Venetian window to 1st floor. The only interior feature to survive is the central stone staircase with decorative cast iron balustrade.

  • Grade II
  • first listed 24 January 1984
  • listing entry number 1134663

HUDDERSFIELD ROAD (south side) Meltham. Well-head in grounds of Meltham Hall. Italian well-head. Possibly pre-Renaissance. Marble. Tapering. cylinder on round flat base with 4 shields and 4 rosettes, between crockets which support a rim with a band with nail-head decoration. Partly damaged and repaired.


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Census Returns

year name age   details
1851 William Leigh Brook 41 head Magistrate, Cotton Spinner firm of 2, employing Men 164, Woman 316, Boys 136, Girls 292. Landed proprietor farming 108 acres and 450 Moor Land employing 10 labourers.
Emily Brook 28 wife
James Brook 3 son
William Stolle 32 visitor Merchant.
Mary Bowling 25 servant
Hannah Hampshire 44 servant House Keeper.
Mary Ann Wilson 21 servant
Elizabeth Harvey 29 servant
George Nichol 35 gardener Living at the Gardener's House with his wife Margaret (31), their children Robert (1) and Isabella (under 2 months), neice Georgina Young (7), and half-brother gardener Thomas Mitchel.
1861 Charles Brook Jnr 47 head Sewing Cotton Thread Manufactorer, employing 1446 hands.
Elizabeth Brook[18] 46 wife
James W. Brook 13 nephew
Charlotte A. Brook 9 niece
Sarah Ellen Brook 8 niece
Catherine A. Palmer 37 servant Governess.
Edward Bingham 41 servant Butler.
Jane Firth 33 servant Cook.
Anne Fitton 28 servant House Maid.
Lydia Brook 23 servant House Maid.
Elizabeth Brook 17 servant Kitchen Maid.
John Lockwood 38 gardener Living at the Lodge with his wife Hannah (28).
John Flower 59 servant Farm labourer living at the Lodge with his wife Sarah (54) and their three children.
John Hirst 28 coachman Living on New Road Side with his wife Ann (34) and their four children.
1871 Edward Brook 45 head Sewing Cotton Manufacturer employing 412 Males and 1111 Females.
Emma Brook 29 wife
Edward J. Brook 6 son
Charles Brook 4 son
Frances M. Brook 2 daughter
Anne I. Brook 11m daughter
Frances Gilliat 36 servant Governess.
John H. Grassham 25 servant Butler.
Mary A. Firth 49 servant Cook.
Annie Allatt 17 servant Kitchen Maid.
Matilda Boulton 19 servant House Maid.
Fanny Ancliffe 18 servant Under House Maid.
Elizabeth Stoton 27 servant Head Nurse.
Emma Taylor 18 servant Under Nurse.
Edwin Raynor 28 gardener Living nearby with his wife Louisa (27) and their daughter Emma (3).
1881 William Tindale 33 head Gardener.
Mary Ann Tindale 35 wife
Arthur Richard Tindale 7m son
Richard Tindale 34 boarder Gardener.
Robert Mountain 28 labourer Farm labourer, living at the Lodge House with his wife Jane Ellen (30) and their two daughters.
1891 Thomas J. Hirst 40 head Sewing Cotton Manufacturer (British Subject born in Germany).
Esther F. Hirst 33 wife
John S. Hirst 8 son
Mabel A. Hirst 7 daughter
Helen E. Hirst 5 son
Charles J. Hirst 3 son
Daisy M. Hirst 2 daughter
Alice M. Brook 28 second cousin
Ellen Addy 49 servant
Eliza Gregory 49 servant
Ann Hanson 26 servant
Kate Dexter 20 servant
Lilly Watson 16 servant
Edward Lawson 17 servant
Robert Mountain 36 labourer Farm labourer living at the Lodge with his wife Helena (38) and two children.
James Breward 45 coachman Living nearby with his wife Sarah (50), their niece Rose M. Stannard, and groom Joseph Ridgard (21)
1901 Isabella Bolain 49 servant Domestic Cook.
Elizabeth Robson 27 servant House Maid.
Emma Ellis 20 servant Kitchen Maid.
Pheoba Johnson 19 servant House Maid.
Emiley Bowles 17 servant House Maid.
Isabella McGregor 16 servant Scullery Maid.
Alfred Vowles 17 servant Page.
Robert Mountain 46 labourer Farm yard labourer living at the Lodge with his wife Melina (48) and their two sons.
1911 James Henderson 68 gardener Widower, living at Meltham Hall with his three daughters and one grandchild.


Notes and References

  1. "Meltham: Accident" in Huddersfield Chronicle (14/Jan/1865).
  2. "Fire at Meltham Hall" in Huddersfield Chronicle (21/Jan/1871).
  3. "An Insolent Vagrant" in Huddersfield Chronicle (11/Feb/1871).
  4. "Local and General" in Leeds Mercury (26/Jun/1875).
  5. "Meltham Mills Church" in Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (09/Jun/1876).
  6. "The Roods, Meltham" in Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (28/Jun/1877).
  7. "Meltham Local Board" in Huddersfield Chronicle (23/Sep/1893) & Huddersfield Chronicle (30/Sep/1893).
  8. "Local District Councils: Meltham" in Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (22/Feb/1895). The plans were prepared by "Mr. Reginald Blomfield M.A., Temple E.C., and Messrs. John Kirk and Sons, Huddersfield."
  9. "Meltham: Local Board" in Huddersfield Chronicle (28/Apr/1894).
  10. "Meltham: District Council Meeting" in Huddersfield Chronicle (03/Jun/1899).
  11. "District Councils: Meltham" in Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (22/Aug/1899).
  12. "A Riding Tragedy" in Leeds Mercury (01/May/1905).
  13. The letter was dated 23 July 1911, with Brook writing from Harewood Lodge.
  14. "Marriage at Meltham Mills" in Yorkshire Post (21/Aug/1913).
  15. Adverts appeared in the press, e.g. Yorkshire Post (04/Nov/1944).
  16. "Future of Meltham Hall" in Yorkshire Evening Post (22/Feb/1950).
  17. "Meltham Hall Plan" in Yorkshire Post (26/May/1950).
  18. Born Elizabeth Hirst, she married Charles Brook on 20 February 1860 at St. James, Meltham Mills.