Yorkshire Archaeological and Topographical Journal (1902) - The Huddersfield Archaeological and Topographical Association, Founded in 1864

Reproduced from Volume XVI of the Yorkshire Archaeological Journal.

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


By Sir THOMAS BROOKE, Bart., F.S.A., President of the Society.

I have been asked by the Honorary Secretary of our Yorkshire Archaeological Society, to give some notes of the early history of its original formation, down to the time of its adoption in 1870 of the title which is now so familiar to us. It is believed that many of our members are ignorant of the fact that the existing Association is a development or expansion of the purely local Society whose designation is prefixed to this paper; and as I am, unfortunately, the only survivor of the first Council of that Society, I must respond to the Secretary's appeal.

I might almost have contented myself by a simple reprint of the first report of the Huddersfield Association, and I must certainly give some extracts from it, inasmuch as it seems to me to contain in a concise form the precise information which I have been asked to put on record.

In 1863 a few gentlemen interested in archaeological pursuits met from time to time in their respective houses, to discuss matters of archaeological interest in this neighbourhood. As the friendly gathering extended its circle, it was proposed to form a Society which should embrace all the antiquaries of the district. A special meeting was called to discuss the feasibility of organizing an Archaeological Society for the parishes of Kirkburton and Almondbury. The Society was formed; officers pro tem. elected; members invited to join, and assistance solicited. But it was soon found necessary to enlarge the area of operations; and at a subsequent meeting it was resolved that the researches should extend over the deanery of Huddersfield. A prospectus was printed and circulated widely through the deanery. That prospectus stated the objects of the proposed Association to be "The examination and preservation of the Ancient Records which were known to exist in Huddersfield and its neighbourhood ;" to search for "Ancient Charters and Documents" in every parish ; not only among the landed proprietors, but also among the working classes.
The following duties were then laid down for the Association :—
  1. To preserve and illustrate the Ancient Monuments, History, and Customs of our Ancestors.
  2. To collate and transcribe Ancient Charters, Deeds and Documents, with the ulterior view of employing them as material for a compilation of the History and Topography of this locality.
  3. That the immediate sphere of their researches and operations shall be primarily connected with the four extensive and important parishes of Almondbury, Huddersfield, Kirkburton, and Kirkheaton, comprising the Deanery of Huddersfield ; but not to exclude any matters of a kindred character which the Executive of the Association shall deem necessary or interesting.
A public meeting was held in the Gymnasium Hall, on the evening of Friday, the 8th July, 1864; which was presided over by our President, Dr. Turnbull. The meeting was a preliminary one.
On the 11th November, 1864, a second public meeting was held in the rooms of the Huddersfield Literary and Scientific Institute, when the Rev. Charles Augustus Hulbert, M.A., presided ; and the rules of the Society as proposed on the 8th July were adopted ; the members of the Council nominated ; and the officers elected. These rules were afterwards altered at a Council meeting, on the 22nd March, 1865, and the new rules were submitted by them to the general meeting of the 3rd June, 1865, and adopted. The chief emendation lay in the "object" and "operations" of the Association, as will be seen by comparing them. The area of the work is extended to the South-western part of the county of York ; and was found necessary in order to embrace some important towns in the vicinity of Huddersfield, and also to induce some Archaeologists to join the Association who were holding back on the plea that we were merely a local Society.

The report concludes by stating that in November, 1864, forty members had been elected, and that a year later the members had increased to seventy.

I venture to think that some personal identification of the "few gentlemen" who in 1863 met from time to time "to discuss matters of Archaeological interest," as named in the above extract, will add vitality to this record. I am not sure that either Mr. John Nowell, of Farnley Wood, or Dr. J.K. Walker, of Deanhead, was ever able to be actually present at those meetings, but they were both in frequent communication with the circle, and I do not hesitate to ascribe to Mr. Nowell the inspiration which led to the ultimate organization of the Society. Both of these gentlemen were lifelong devotees to antiquarian research, and their concurrence at an advanced age in the measures taken for the formation of the Association was always felt to have given a dignity and honour which otherwise it might have lacked. No one was more diligent in his attendance at these informal gatherings than the honoured historian of Kirkburton and the Graveship of Holme, H.J. Morehouse, Esq., F.S.A., so well known as Dr. Morehouse : and no one who knew him will doubt the assertion that the well-filled stores of his memory afforded often the chief materials for the discussion. Dr. Turnbull — who was eventually the first President of the Association — must not be omitted from the list of those who were the precursors of the organization. The Rev. George Lloyd, of Thurstonland, was the convener of the meetings, and the circumstance of his living within an easy walk of Dr. Morehouse had much to do with their arrangement. As will be seen, he became the first Secretary of the Association, and held the position till his removal to the county of Durham. I must also mention the Rev. Thomas James, of Netherthong, an antiquary of much repute. He was Editor of the Journal of the Cambrian Archaeological Society, and his bardic name of Llallawg was a text on which Mr. Lloyd made many jokes. I was myself a member of the little confraternity, and I look back with much pleasure on my association with the members whose names I have noted, and who were perhaps as various and distinct in their particular idiosyncrasies as could ever be found united in one common pursuit. They were good friends, and I revere the memory of each and all of them.

But I must proceed with the history of the Association. The public meetings of July and November, 1864, fairly launched the ship on the sea of archaeological research, and the following list of its first officers will shew that it had every reason to hope for that wind of public approval which subsequently followed it.


The Right Hon. the Earl of Dartmouth.


Sir Geo. Armytage, Bart.
Sir John Ramsden, Bart., M.P.
Sir Joseph Radcliffe, Bart.
E. A. Leatham, Esq., M.P.
H. F. Beaumont, Esq.
C. H. Bill, Esq.


Wm. Turnbull, Esq., M.D.


Rev. Canon Holmes, M.A., Vicar of Huddersfield.
Rev. C. Alderson, M.A., Rector of Kirkheaton.
Rev. L. Jones, Vicar of Almondbury.
J. K. Walker, Esq., M.D., Cantab., F.S.A., Sc.
John Nowell, Esq.


George F. Beaumont, Esq., Steps, Honley.
Joseph Beaumont, Esq., Jun., Greenhead.
John Graham Berry, Esq., West Riding Bank.
Major J. Bradbury, New North Road.
Major T. Brooke, Armitage Bridge House.
Rev. J. C. Clarke, M.A., Incumbent of Moldgreen.
J. P. Dowse, Esq., Belgrave Terrace.
Rev. A. Easther, M.A., Almondbury.
Rev. H. E. Garnet, M.A., Incumbent of Friar Mere.
Rev. C. A. Hulbert, M.A., Incumbent of Slaithwaite; Author of Annals of Slaithwaite.
Rev. Thos. James, Llallawg, F.G.H.S. ; Member of the Cambrian Archaeological Association ; General Secretary of the Cambrian Institute ; and Editor of the Cambrian Journal. Rev. George Lloyd, Honorary Secretary.
Robert Meller, Esq., Holmfirth.
Henry J. Morehouse, Esq., Stony Bank; Author of the History of Kirkburton.
Geo. Tindall, Esq., Hon. Sec. of Huddersfield Literary and Scientific Society.
Geo. D. Tomlinson, Esq., Ramsden Street.
Rev. E. C. Watson, Incumbent of Meltham.

Honorary Treasurer:

Thomas Brooke, Esq., Armitage Bridge.

Honorary Secretary:

Rev. George Lloyd, Thurstonland, near Huddersfield.


The President, Honorary Treasurer, and Honorary Secretary, for the time being.

Before, however, the issue of the first Annual Report, the names of Ed. Akroyd, Esq., M.P., and Thos. P. Crosland, Esq., M.P., were added to the number of Vice-Patrons — and amongst other changes in the composition of the Council, a notable addition thereto was made in the person of Fairless Barber, Esq., F.S.A., who soon succeeded Mr. Lloyd as Secretary, and whose indefatigable exertions in that capacity contributed much to the success both of the Huddersfield Association and of its still vigorous successor.

It may perhaps be doubted whether the Society was able to follow up with effect all the objects which it contemplated. It may however be mentioned that one of its first steps was to establish a "Miscellany of MSS.," some of the contents of which have been printed in this Journal, and which may fairly be regarded as a forerunner of the present Record Series.

At a very early stage of its existence the special attention of the Association was directed to the vexed question of the site of Cambodunum, and this attention was accentuated by the reading (at a General Meeting on June 3, 1865) of an important paper by Dr. Walker, on the hypocaust, which he had discovered at Slack some years before. So much enthusiasm was excited by this paper, that it was determined to raise an independent fund for excavations with a view to settling for ever the long dispute. Arrangements were made with the owners and tenants of the land ; £140 was specially contributed for the work ; and during its progress nearly £30 was received for admissions to the ground and Museum. Mr. Fox was the Clerk in charge of the excavations, but the Rev. Mr. Lloyd (prior to his removal to Darlington) was able to give much personal superintendence to their progress. It is no part of my task to give any account of the discoveries made. It is sufficient to say that they were almost universally accepted as proof that the site of Cambodunum was now really ascertained, and, in the words of the Society’s Annual Report, it may be added that the excavation had "become a work of interest for all England." It may perhaps be added that a further elaborate paper was read by Dr. Walker at a meeting held at Slack on the 13th April, 1866, and a most valuable discussion ensued, in which Mr. Barber, Mr. Leyland, the Rev. Canon Hulbert, and others took part.

It has already been intimated that Mr. Lloyd was about this time called to responsible clerical work in the diocese of Durham; he was consequently obliged to resign the Secretaryship : and at the Annual Meeting, on January 30, 1867, it was also announced that Dr. Turnbull — the President — had felt it necessary to retire from that position. The Council had heard of this intention at an early period in 1866, and on September 10 had nominated the writer of this paper as his successor, and had appointed Mr. Fairless Barber to the Secretaryship. On the following day, September n, Mr. Barber issued a circular to the members announcing his accession to the office and appealing for increased support for the work of the Association.

The Report presented in January, 1867, contained an interesting account of the Slack excavations and of other good work under the auspices of the Society. The list of members now comprised ninety names. At this meeting several objects of interest were exhibited, and the following papers were read :—

  1. On Roman Roads — by J.S. Scott, Esq., of Halifax
  2. On Early Antiquities of the District — by Rev. T. James, F.S.A.
  3. On Etymology Applied to Topography — by Dr. Walker.
  4. On Some Roman Coins from Slack — by Mr. Fairless Barber.

A meeting of the Council was held at Outlane (Slack) on May 20th, 1867, after which the antiquarian remains which abound on the borders of the parishes of Halifax and Huddersfield were inspected, under the able guidance of Mr. J. S. Stott, "whose intimate practical knowledge of the district for upwards of forty years added greatly to the success of the expedition." A full report of this day’s proceedings was given in the Huddersfield Examiner of May 25th. On August 28th the first general excursion of the members and their friends was made, and Kirkheaton, Kirkburton, and Almondbury Churches were visited, as well as Woodsome Hall and the earthworks of Castle Hill.

After the Annual Meeting on January 23, 1868, a new departure was made, for a General Meeting and Conversazione were held, and a most comprehensive Exhibition of Seals, Brass Rubbings, Heraldic Drawings, Tiles, Flints, Coins, Plans, Engravings, MSS., and early printed Books was assembled. The remarkable bronze vessel found at Wharncliffe was also kindly lent by the Earl of Wharncliffe, and a photograph of it was included in the series of twelve photographs published by the Society. I append a list of them. They are all, except No. 12, mounted on toned mounts, 12x9½ inches.

No. Size of photo., in inches To members To non-members
1. WALTON CROSS, from north-east, shewing birds and tree on raised panel on east side, and interlacing on north side 6 x 4½ 1s 6d 2s 0d
2. WALTON CROSS, from south-east, shewing east side at an angle, and south side covered with interlaced work, also the step before readjustment of the base upon it 6 x 4½ 1s 6d 2s 0d
3. WALTON CROSS, from south-west, shewing south side, and on the west a cross within a circle, supported by winged beasts, also the step after replacement of the base 6 x 4½ 1s 6d 2s 0d
4. WALTON CROSS, from north-east and southwest, two views on one mount 4¼ x 2¼ 1s 6d 2s 0d
5. RASTRICK CROSS, from north-west and south-east, shewing the interlaced and foliated patterns, two views on one mount 4¼ x 2¼ 1s 6d 2s 0d
6. HARTSHEAD CHURCH, from the south-west 6 x 4½ 1s 6d 2s 0d
7. HARTSHEAD CHURCH REREDOS: most interesting specimen of caned woodwork, 17th century 6 x 4½ 1s 6d 2s 0d
8. HARTSHEAD CHURCH FONT, constructed in 1662 from one of the Norman pillars 4¼ x 2¼ 1s 0d 1s 6d
9. SLACK, perfect roof tile, with the inscription, COHIIIIBRE 6 x 4½ 1s 6d 2s 0d
10. SLACK, ditto and ridge tile from sepulchre 6 x 4½ 1s 6d 2s 0d
11. SLACK, flue tile, square slabs, and fragments from hypocaust 6 x 4½ 1s 6d 2s 0d
12. BRONZE VESSEL, found at Wharn-cliffe, the property of Lord Wharncliffe 4¼ x 2¼ 1s 0d 1s 6d
The set of twelve 16s 0d 21s 0d

Nos. 1 to 11 inclusive were photographed for the Association by Mr. Appleyard, of Brighouse, and No. 12 by Mr. J. V. Hatch, of Huddersfield. I fear that they are no longer procurable.

The noble patron of the Association (the Right Hon. the Earl of Dartmouth) had expressed his intention of being present, and of presiding over the meeting, but the death of a near relative prevented his fulfilling the engagement.

Papers were read by the Rev. Canon Raine on "The Topography of the Agbrigg Wapentake" by Charles Monkman, Esq. (or by the Secretary on his behalf), on "Ancient Flint and Stone Implements, from the Surface Soil of Yorkshire" and by the Rev. G. B. Mellor on "Monumental Brasses." A communication from Albert Way, Esq., F.S.A., on an enamelled relic found at Slack, was also submitted to the audience.

The Report of the previous year's proceedings, which was presented on this occasion, was of a very satisfactory character, shewing that forty new members had been enrolled. It also recorded some interesting archaeological discoveries in various parts of the county.

It is worthy of note that at this time the necessity of providing rooms for the use of the Association was first named. It will be remembered that this desideratum was not supplied till the year 1893, when the old Medical School at Leeds became the home of the Yorkshire Association. In the meantime the difficulty was averted by the deposit of the Library (named below) at No. 6, Market Place, Huddersfield, under the charge of Mr. Crossley, and still later by the offer of accommodation by the President of the Society. A most valuable bequest of books and MSS. by the late Miss Turner, of Hopton, was the immediate cause of the necessity being felt. This collection, which had been made by her uncle, Mr. William Turner, was the nucleus, and still forms the largest part of the Library now in the Rooms of the Association.

On August 26, 1868, the second Annual Excursion of the members took place. The neighbourhood of Dewsbury was chosen for the event, and the churches of Dewsbury, Woodkirk, and Thornhill were visited; and at each place efficient guides were found amongst the clergy of the respective parishes. A shorter inspection was also made of the Rectory Manor House and the Old Vicarage (afterwards the Church Institute) at Dewsbury, of the old Hall of the Saviles in Soothill Lane, of the Old Hall at Thornhill Lees, and of the Grammar School at Thornhill. The remains of the Thornhill Old Hall within the grounds of the Rectory also occupied the attention of the visitors.

At a later date (September 14) the members of the Association were invited by Ed. Hailstone, Esq., F.S.A., and William Chaffers, Esq., to meet them at the Fine Art Exhibition at Leeds, in order to inspect the Gallery of Yorkshire Worthies and the Museum of Ornamental Art. A most instructive day was spent, under the guidance of the above-named gentlemen. As a result of this visit the Council secured (by the permission of the exhibitors) photographs of over seventy of the most beautiful objects pointed out to them. Messrs. Cundall & Fleming, of London, took the negatives, and proofs from them were submitted to the Annual Meeting on January 29, 1869, and much admired.

This meeting proved to be a most important one, for in addition to the record of progress (the number of members being now 170) and the recapitulation of the work undertaken in 1868, the following part of the Report was unanimously adopted :—

The Council has reasons for believing that the most important step hitherto taken is the intended issue of a journal, to be entitled—
The Yorkshire Archaeological and Topographical Journal
a prospectus of which has been widely distributed. The title thus worded has been adopted ... because the area from which articles may, consistently with the rules, be contributed embraces all Yorkshire.

One is almost led to think that the Honorary Secretary when he penned these lines had some presentiment of the changes made some eighteen months later.

At this meeting there was again an interesting exhibition of seals, brass rubbings, photographs, documents, and other objects.

In lieu of papers read as usual, a lecture by the Rev. G. B. Mellor on the exhibits was given, and much appreciated. The Rev. Canon Hulbert (who was in the chair) and James Fowler, Esq., F.S.A., with others, took part in the proceedings, but the attendance was small. The first part of the Journal was now issued, and in August, 1869, the Secretary was able to express in a circular the hope that Part II would be ready before the end of the year.

On August 25, 1869, the third Annual Excursion took the members to Wakefield and its neighbourhood, and to the Editor of the Wakefield Express was due a most complete and accurate report of the day’s proceedings, a reprint of which was issued afterwards to the Association. Descriptive and historical papers were read at the various places visited by James Fowler, Esq., the Rev. J. T. Fowler, of Durham, Mr. Micklethwaite, Mr. Taylor, Mr. Fennell, Canon Camidge, and others. The ancient bridge, with its chantry, the Parish Church and Castle of Sandal, Heath Old Hall, the Church of St. Peter at Kirkthorp, the Freston Hospital, the Six Chimneys in Kirkgate, the Moot Hall, the Old Grammar School, and last of all, the Parish Church of All Saints (since raised to the dignity of a Cathedral) were successively visited, and a somewhat overcrowded day was brought to a satisfactory conclusion.

Photographs of the different places were published by Messrs. Hall, and it may here be noted that the Society’s List of Photographs was now augmented by the addition of several views of Thornhill and Lees Hall.

The report presented to the Annual Meeting on January 19, 1870, still spoke of progress. After a weeding of the list of members, there were now 227 names left on the roll. The finances of the Association were also in a sound condition, for £183 was ready for investment, and after paying £58 from the general account for the Journal the accounts were practically balanced.

The results of the publishing of the Journal are recorded with much satisfaction. The closing of the Slack Excavation Fund is also announced, and donations to the Library are acknowledged.

I now come to the last scene in the history which has been committed to me. At the meeting at Pontefract on August 31, 1870, the Huddersfield Association ceased to exist under its old name, but entered upon a new life under the designation of the Yorkshire Archaeological and Topographical Association. The meeting at which this was accomplished, and at which the necessary alteration of rules was made, was held in the grounds of the Castle immediately after the arrival of the visitors, and the resolutions, which had been well considered by the Council, were unanimously adopted, though at a later period in the day the Right Hon. Lord Houghton hinted that in his opinion the title of West Riding Association might have been preferable.

The admirable report of the excursion in the Pontefract Advertiser not only indicated the special features of the day, but was also in itself a noble monument of the enthusiasm and research of its Editor, one of the most honoured and diligent helpers in the work of our Association. The late Mr. T.W. Tew, whose knowledge of the Castle was universally recognised, acted as guide, and not only explained the details of the remains, but also gave a most useful lecture on the history of Pontefract and of the various sieges which the Castle had endured.

After leaving the Castle Mr. Fowler conducted the party to the Hermitage, and expounded its history. St. Giles' Church and All Saints' Church were afterwards inspected, and such remains of antiquity as still exist were explained by Mr. Mickleth waite. New Hall was the last place visited, and here once more the stores of Mr. Tew's research were placed at the disposal of the visitors.

The interest of the visit to Pontefract was much enhanced by the Exhibition in the Town Hall of the charters of the town and of numerous archaeological curiosities. This collection had been arranged by the care of Mr. Holmes and others, and formed a local collection such as but few towns could equal. But the day came to an end, and those who had come to Pontefract as members of the Huddersfield Association left it as members of the Yorkshire Archaeological and Topographical Association.