Hebden Township Historical Data

Fred Cobley: 1882

This extract is from On Foot through Wharfedale, page 225-227 by Fred Cobley (1851-1920), published by William Walker & Sons of Otley in 1882.

Fred Cobley was a journalist, born in Warwickshire, who worked on the Wharfedale Obsrver for a number of years before becoming its editor. He lived at Mount Pisgah in Otley. He was the author of a number of books including one on local cricket, and one on the Leeds Freemasons Lodge.

Photograph of cover of 'On Foot through Wharfedale'
The cover of "On Foot through Wharfedale"

HEBDEN is not to be included in this ramble, but for those who may care to learn something of its history, the following information is given.

Hebden takes its name from its situation, "heb" meaning high, and "dene" meaning valley, the whole name signifying "the high valley." This is accurately expressive of the nature of the place, which consists of a deep gully running up from the Wharfe to the summit of a lofty ridge which separates Craven from Nidderdale. Down this runs the noisy beck, named after the village, which has a population of 313 inhabitants. It is equidistant eight miles from Kettlewell and Pateley Bridge, twelve from Skipton, and it is included in the parish of Linton.

The township originally belonged to the Mowbrays, but at the time the Domesday survey was taken, Osbern de Arches was the superior lord, and Uctred, the son of Dolphin, was in possession as mesne lord. Dolphin was the founder of the Hebden family, in whose ownership the manor stood in 1271. The manor next passed to the Tempests, of Bracewell. The old manor house used to stand at the extreme southern end of the village. Dotted here and there to the north of the manor house stood a number of rudely-built cabins of wood or stone, all one storey high, low doorways, with top thrust up into the eaves of the heather-thatched roof, small square holes for light, the roof crowned with a wooden or cobble-stone chimney, neither round nor square. But appearances have changed since then, as will be presently shewn.

Hebden Church was built in 1840, and consecrated, along with the adjoining burial ground, in the year following by Bishop Longley, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury. The edifice, which is a prominent feature, was built from the designs of an energetic and deeply-beloved curate, the Rev. Mr. Fearon. A pretty waterfall may be seen a little above the village green, and, if the course is pursued further, the tourist will be repaid by a sight of some rocky and highly romantic scenery. Then, still higher up, is the Husb (sic) Waterfall, and the Hebden Moor Lead Mines.

At the end of the last, and at the beginning of the present, century, religious observances, common to the period, were at a low ebb, and football and other kindred out-door amusements were indulged in on the Sabbath, verifying the couplet-

"With shepherds so careless, the flocks may weel stray;
Like people, like priest, was true at that day."

But, seeing that the nearest church was at Linton, and remembering that there was no other place of worship then existing, this is not to be wondered at. Fortunately a change for the better has since been effected. In 1812 the Wesleyans built a large and substantial chapel; the lead mines gave good remunerative employment, and the old cotton mill is added to the commercial prosperity which had set in.

Then in 1838, the Primitive Methodists built a neat little chapel. This, together with the civilising and christianising influences which were everywhere observable, roused to more active life the church men, and in 1840, as already stated, a neat church was built. In 1857 the open moorlands were enclosed, and from that circumstance the farming interest was furthered and the rateable value of the township increased, for, before the enclosure, a few individuals got nearly the whole of the benefits from the common lands, from which no rates accrued. Since then, too, very great sanitary improvements have been effected. Delapidated houses have given place to new and substantial dwellings, and most of them can boast of neatly-kept gardens in front; and the social and intellectual progress of the village has been equally marked.

There are some exceedingly pretty walks, and those about the Lythe, the old Saxon word for declivity, are much frequented by lovers, artists, and poets, as their perfect retirement render them peculiarly suitable for the telling of tales of love, as well as for those who like to study Nature in her calmer moods and aspects. Just below the Hall is Thors-kill (sic), a spring dedicated by the Druids to the god of thunder, and near to is a crag on which it is supposed that they offered the sacrifices. This may very probably be true, for there are appearances which warrant the conclusion that the crag has been subjected to the action of fire.