William Wallen (1807-1888)

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William Wallen was a London-born architect who established a practice in Huddersfield.


Huddersfield Chronicle (02/Oct/1852)

He was born in Stepney, London, the son of architect and surveyor John Wallen (1783-1865) and his first wife Maria (née Adams), and baptised on 26 April 1807 at St. Mary Matfelon Church, Whitechapel.

He married Frances Gill[1], daughter of Richard and Mary Gill of Barnsley, on 16 June 1830 at Carisbrooke on the Isle of Wight. The couple had one known child:

  • William Sowerby Wallen (c.1831-1869)[2] who became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in May 1856[3]

As an architect, he initially practised with his father at Spital Square, London, before the partnership was dissolved in February 1837. He then moved to Huddersfield where he was had practices on Manchester Road, West Parade and, by the early 1850s, 2 New North Road.

In 1848, he proposed the building of a tower on Castle Hill, "to serve as an observatory for astronomical and other purposes, and a landmark for the whole country", but this was rejected by the Ramsden Estate who felt that the site should not be "disturbed for a new erection of any sort or kind".[4] In August 1850, a correspondent wrote to the Huddersfield Chronicle suggesting that Wallen's design for the tower could serve as a base for a "colossal" statue of Sir Robert Peel.[5]


The objects proposed are the providing accommodation for private picnic parties and excursion parties and the erection of an Observatory, from which to view the surrounding scenery ; it being presumed that from the summit of the Tower the view of York Cathedral would be regained (now concealed by Whitley Woods), and that the mouth of the Humber and the German Ocean would be seen (as they lie due east) without much intervening hill. Castle Hill, Almondbury, can be see from the Vale of York, and as these two objects are recognised from the low Tower erected above Holmfirth within the last two years and to which the inhabitants of the surrounding districts resort.

Huddersfield being without any place of attraction to the visitor, it is hoped that the deficiency would be supplied, and that advantage would accrue to the village of Almondbury.

Huddersfield Chronicle (06/Feb/1864)

Frances Wallen ran a "preparatory boarding and day school for young gentleman" in connection with the Church of England[6] — this was initially based on New North Road before moving to "a more eligible residence" (named in later advertisements as Fitzwilliam House) on Fitzwilliam Street in 1855.[7] The school closed in 1864, when she relocated to Harrogate.[8] She continued to advertise in the Chronicle until 1870.

Frances died on 3 April 1895 at Leeds. [9]

Wallen's Later Life

Although it was for a long time assumed Wallen died in the 1850s, recent research shows that he was admitted to the Bootham Lunatic Hospital in York (also known as the York Lunatic Asylum) in September 1853 and remained there until his death aged 81 on 1 May 1888.

The 1861 and 1881 Censuses for the institution contain entries for "W.W." (aged 53 and 74 respectively), described as being an architect born in London, with his condition noted as "lunatic" in the latter.

Bootham Lunatic Hospital - William Wallen.jpg

Selected Works

  • St. David's Church, Holmbridge - restoration after 1852 flood
  • St. Luke's Church, Milnsbridge (1843-45)[10]
  • Christ Church, Oakworth, Keighley (1844)[11]
  • National School, Infant School and Master's House, Kirkheaton (1844)[12]
  • St. Paul's Church, Shepley (1845-48)
  • Schools connected with St. Nicholas' Church, Whitehaven, Cumberland (1846)[13]
  • Schools and Master's House, Oxenhope, near Haworth (1846)[14]
  • Parsonage House at Milnsbridge (1846) for the Rev. John Richardson[15]
  • Riding School, Ramsden Street, Huddersfield (1848)
  • Longley Hall Estate Office
  • George Hotel, St. George's Square, Huddersfield (1849-50) [with Charles Child]
  • Castle Hill Hotel, Almondbury (c.1851)
  • Six shops and warehouses on John William Street and Westgate, Huddersfield (1852)[16]
  • Chapel of Ease, Aspley, Huddersfield (1852-54)[17]

Further Reading


Notes and References

  1. Born on 3 October 1803.
  2. Baptised 26 October 1831 at Stepney. Married Hannah Maria Thornton, daughter of auctioneer Benjamin Thornton, on 6 April 1859 at Huddersfield Parish Church and then lived at Rotherhithe, Surrey. Served as a surgeon in the Army. Hannah Maria died in 1863 and William Wowerby died in Natal, South Africa, on 15 November 1869. Their son, Charles Thornton Wallen, died aged 32 at Bournemouth and was buried at Huddersfield on 30 June 1893, implying the family retained a link to Huddersfield.
  3. Huddersfield Chronicle (24/May/1856).
  4. A copy of the proposal was published as "Correspondence: Castle Hill Tower" in Huddersfield Chronicle (03/Jul/1899).
  5. "Correspondence" in Huddersfield Chronicle (03/Aug/1850).
  6. See, for example, advertisement in Huddersfield & Holmfirth Examiner (15/Jul/1854).
  7. "Public Notices" in Huddersfield & Holmfirth Examiner (08/Dec/1855).
  8. Huddersfield Chronicle (06/Feb/1864).
  9. Huddersfield Chronicle (06/Apr/1895).
  10. "Contacts" Leeds Mercury (08/Jul/1843).
  11. "To Be Sold or Let" in Leeds Intelligencer (27/Jan/1844).
  12. Leeds Intelligencer (21/Sep/1844) & (28/Dec/1844).
  13. Leeds Intelligencer (25/Apr/1846).
  14. Leeds Intelligencer (25/Apr/1846).
  15. Leeds Intelligencer (01/Aug/1846).
  16. Huddersfield Chronicle (05/Jun/1852).
  17. "St. Paul's Church, Opening of the Aspley Chapel-of-Ease" in Huddersfield Chronicle (11/Mar/1854).