Hebden Township Historical Data

B. J. Harker: 1890

This extract comes from B.J. Harker's book "The Buxton of Yorkshire. Being a complete guide for tourists to Grassington, in Upper Wharfedale", pages 104-113, published in 1890 by John Heywood of Manchester. The first half of the book contains general information about the area, and the second half contains details of seven walks and five drives in the area. Two of the walks pass through Hebden, and transcriptions of these sections may be found below. The first walk only passes through Hebden along the river, but the second describes the township in more detail.

Photograph of cover of 'The Buxton of Yorkshire'
The cover of "The Buxton of Yorkshire"

Bailey John Harker (1844-1916) was born and died in Grassington, his parents being William, a tailor, and Betty. He married Amy Smith (1846-1923) in 1868 at Wellington, Shropshire. By profession he was in the church, and served as an non-conformist minister as far a field as Wales, Scotland and Bolton. He was the author of a number of literary works.

Photograph of B.J. Harker (on right)
Bailey John Harker (on right). Click for larger version

Walk No. 4. To the Lythe, Loup Scar, and Burnsall

This walk is by the banks of the Wharfe, and brings us to some of the quietest and best scenery in the valley, which is entirely missed by those who keep on the highways of the district. We go down by Grassington Low Mill, and keep on the north bank of the river for two miles. In Lythe Pasture we cross a small stream which comes from Isingdale Glen, a beautifully-wooded retreat, into which, however, there is no path. Then we come to the Water Cress Springs. On the cliff to the left, almost hidden by trees, stands Lythe House, whose gardens are enclosed by castellated walls. A former owner of this cosy residence intended to convert the surrounding lands into a deer park, and a portion of the high wall that was to enclose them yet remains on the Hebden Road. The Woods of Lythe, through which we now pass, contain some splendid specimens of horse chesnuts, beeches, and limes. Here the river is hemmed in on each side by high slopes, which also confine our view to the merest limits. The water is unusually still, and no sound is heard but the melody of birds. The whole length for a mile seems to have been made on purpose for quiet musing or communion with Nature and her God. Next we come to Hebden Mill Stepping Stones or "Hippings," which, however, we need not cross, for a handsome Swing Bridge has been constructed at this point, which is of great service to the neighbourhood. We must note that here the Hebden Beck joins the Wharfe. Going over the bridge we follow the path on the south bank of the river through wood and glade, turning to look back at intervals at the beautiful reaches of the river. A strong spring boiling up near the Wharfe is St. Helen's Well, and another that we soon come to is St. Margaret's Well. The wells were formerly connected with well-worship, and re-dedicated doubtless to saints after they had been sacred to pagan deities. Our attention, however, is more taken up with the river which here makes a sort of shepherd's crook on account of its course being suddenly turned for a short distance to the north-east by a mass of limestone, connected at some time with a still bolder mass on the other side, and forming a lake of no mean extent. The latter is Loup Scar.

Loup is said to be from "leap," by most of the authorities who have written about the word; but I suggest another origin. It is the Norman word for "wolf," and this may really be Wolf Scar. Taking our stand below the scar, we must give ourselves time to mark its beauties. It is a picturesque rock overhanging the river, and crowned with trees of graceful foliage. Ivy and fern decorate its side, tufts of grass grow out of its crevices, and a cream-like mould colours it. The river tosses itself by it over moss-grown crags, and through the narrow opening caused by the scar, and the rock on our own side of the stream, we have a scene, with water and wood in the background, which, for bewitching loveliness, cannot be excelled. Loveliness, indeed, is the only word that can express its beauties.

The next rock we notice is St. Wilfrid's Scar. This is also topped with wood, and beautifully festooned with creeping plants. Several caves, not yet explored, are on the same side of the river.

Now our attention is occupied by a notice-board on a tree, which tells us that foot passengers must keep to the path by the river, another path at this point, which leads past the Rectory into the village of Burnsall, through the Church Yard, having been stopped, but not legally, for it has been used by the public from time immemorial. The notice-board seems to me to be kind of joke, for it directs the stranger away from the church to the Red Lion Hotel! With an explanation, however, that the path by the wall in the next field, which leads also to the church and the village is open, the otherwise objectionable board may be allowed, for the loss only means a few yards. This is the path we will take.

Illustration of Loup Scar
Loup Scar. From a Photo by E.M. Field, Bradford.Click for larger version

Burnsall is "the hall on the burn," and at the Conquest was in the possession of Hardul or Hardulf. William the Conqueror granted the manor to Robert de Romille Then it was held on feudatory tenure by Stephen de Bulmer, and afterwards by Geoffry de Neville of Middleham, who conveyed a moiety of it to Uctred, son of Dolphin. The other moiety was inherited by Eve, daughter of Sir John de Bulmer, Knight, who was married to Lord Fitzhugh, in whose family it remained till 1425. In 1336, the Hebdens claimed the whole of the manor; it then passed to the Tempests of Bracewell, who held it till 1564, when it was conveyed to John and Thomas Procter of Cowpercotes, but by them the estates were sold in 1565 to Henry Tempest of Broughton, in whose descendants the manorial rights are still vested.

The Parish of Burnsall is in two medieties. The first mediety, which was in the hands of the Fitzhughs, was sold to John Lambert, Esq., of Calton, whose descendants re-sold it in 1706 to the Alcocks, and it passed from them to the Grahams, who now hold the patronage. The second mediety, which was vested in the Hebdens, was granted by them to Elias de Rillston, who re-granted it to the Hebdens, and with their estates it passed to the Tempests of Bracewell, from whom it was purchased by Sir William Craven, Knight. The Earl of Craven is therefore the present patron. Formerly both rectories were in Burnsall, but a new rectory has been built at Rylstone; the rectory of the second mediety, which is at Burnsall, has also been considerably enlarged.

Burnsall Church, originally built in the Norman style, is a magnificent structure; it may, indeed, be said to be the handsomest church in Wharfedale. It is dedicated to St. Wilfrid, the patron saint of Ripon. It was repaired at the expense of Sir William Craven, "Knight and Alderman of the citie of London," in 1612. The stone giving this information in quaint characters is built into the vestry wall in the interior of the church. In 1812 the lead was sold from the roof, which was covered with blue slates instead. In 1857-8, the church underwent a complete restoration, the architect being Mr. J. Varley, C.E., of Skipton. Among many interesting remains discovered during the Restoration, there was found in the north-east chantry chapel an exquisite specimen of Early Sculpture in Alabaster. The subject is the Adoration of the Magi. When the sculpture was first turned up, it was richly coloured, and gilded with gold; but this peeled off on exposure to the atmosphere. The church possesses a Norman Font of great antiquarian interest. In the embattled tower there is a peal of six bells, and in front of the tower a handsome clock. Many inscriptions and memorials worth seeing are found both in the church and in the Church Yard. One noted relic connected with the ancient edifice is the Old Lich Gate. Besides the Parish Church, Burnsall has a Wesleyan Chapel.

Burnsall Grammar School was founded in 1602, by Sir William Craven, Knight, who at that time was only an Alderman; he also endowed the school, which has alway been noted for its high-class education. At a time when Parson Alcock was master of the school as well as rector of the second mediety, Eugene Aram was one of the pupils.

Among the many stories which are told of this eccentric rector is the following, which I am not aware has ever before appeared in print: Having left the manuscript of a sermon on the school desk, in which were the words, "I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree," some waggish scholar scratched out "green" and wrote "great," and also "tree," and wrote "horse." When the reverend gentleman, on the Sunday, came to the passage, he read out, in his usual loud tones, "I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a great bay horse," when, on seeing the consternation of his congregation, he paused, and looking again at the strange version very closely, raised his head, and said, "Dang it, it is horse!" The effect on his astonished hearers may be imagined.

Burnsall, like Threshfield and Conistone, has its Maypole; it also possesses what is still more useful - a Reading Room, built for the free use of the villagers, at the sole cost of Mr. J. A. Bland, of Woodhouse, in 1883. Very neat and tasteful is the structure, which is also used for lectures, meetings, and concerts.

Burnsall Bridge was erected in 1884, in place of one destroyed by the great flood, on January 29th, 1883. It is a beautiful and well-built bridge. During the progress of the work, a stone was discovered, bearing upon it this inscription,

"This Bridge was Repaired at the Charge of the West Rideing, 1674." This stone is built into the wall at the north-east end of the bridge, and may be seen by descending the steps into the field. There was a bridge at Burnsall in 1260. The Red Lion Hotel, which is by the bridge, is the chosen house of anglers; here are the headquarters of the Burnsall Angling Club. As we sit in one of the front rooms, while tea is being prepared, we have leisure to note the sharp line of Burnsall Fell, which seems to cut the sky. Burnsall has now become famous as a health resort, and has, no doubt, a great future before it.

Walk No. 5. To Hebden, Scala Wood Waterfall, and the Rocking Stone

The first dwelling we pass in this walk after leaving Grassington is a farm house called the High Cross. The name has originated probably from its being the place of a wayside cross, or from the fact that a branch of the Roman Road in Lythe Pasture crossed here for Grassington Moor and Upper Nidderdale. The outlines of the latter, ascending Fletcher Brows in the direction of High Cross, are distinctly seen. The next dwelling on the road is Halfway House; and in less than two miles from Grassington is the mountain-village of Hebden, the name of which is indicative of its situation, hence it is from the Danish, "heb" high, and "den" a valley. Hebden, however, is not the cold and bleak place its name would appear to imply. To the north and east it is well protected by high banks and hills, and, nestling in a hollow, verdure-clad, and increasingly beautiful with trees recently planted, forms a desirable summer resort. With the wild torrent rushing through it from the moors, the weird and romantic heights of Care Scar, riven into huge blocks of millstone grit, and covered with bosses of bilberry and heather, and the numerous walks that could be made along the sides of the picturesque valley, I know of few places that could be more easily developed into a popular sanitorium, and my wonder is great that the inhabitants do not avail themselves of their advantages, and advertise more for the patronage of the outside public, who would not be slow to appreciate the attractions of such a spot. Possibly they may now take the hint.

The township of Hebden originally belonged to the Mowbrays, but they sold it to Ösbern de Arches, who held it as superior lord at the time of Domesday Book (1080). The manor then extended over part of Burnsall, Thorpe, and Drebley. Under Osbern de Arches, Uctred, son of Dolphin, the founder of the Hebden family, was in possession as mesne lord; the Saxon owner's name was Dringle. The Manor was held by the Hebdens for a considerable time, and then passed by marriage into the family of the Tempests of Bracewell. The estates of this family were parcelled out about 1570. The manorial rights in Hebden are now shared by the freeholders; Major Chadwick, of Arksey House, near Doncaster, being the principal owner. The largest land proprietors in the township of Hebden are the Stockdales, of Skipton.

Of the old Manor House, which formerly stood at the extreme south-eastern end of the village, there is scarcely any remnant left; it is said to have been on the site of what is now called Hebden Hall. Dr. Whitaker say that there was, anciently, at Hebden a considerable establishment, that probably belonged to Bolton Abbey.

Hebden Church, a neat little structure, is the only chapel-of-ease in the parish of Linton; it was erected in 1840-41. Besides the church there are Wesleyan and Primitive Methodist chapels. On the village green, which has been enclosed, a new public school, of beautiful design, was built in 1874. In this there is a very handsome clock. That great water wheel down by the side of Hebden Beck is connected with a mine-trial, made at great cost by Major Chadwick, with, however, very disappointing results, although a level, more than a mile in length, was driven into the hill. A large flow of water comes from the mouth of the level, showing that a number of springs have been tapped. Going down past the water-wheel, we come to Thorskill, the spring which is famous as having been dedicated to Thor, the God of Thunder. The walk down the valley to Hebden Mill is very beautiful, and too little frequented. The eminence which towers up to the east is Ratlock Hill. Hebden boasts two bridges, one of which is a substantial erection built at the expense of the county in 1827. Those who wish to obtain a splendid view should climb up to Scar Top on Care Scar.

Hebden used to have two inns - the Odd Fellows and the Clarendon. The former, however, has been pulled down, and a much larger and more respectable-looking house built in its place; and the latter, from which the name has been transferred to the new premises, has for the present been closed by the owner of both - Mr. Ralph Bowden.

A nice place for a visit is Copper Gill, over Hebden Bank Top; but our walk leads us up the narrowing valley by the beck side till we come to Hole Bottom. This is a wild and woody portion of the dell of exceeding beauty. Here, almost shut in by a crescent of wooded banks, is Scala-Wood Waterfall, one of the bonniest bits of scenery in Upper Wharfedale. The fall itself is not large, being only some 12ft. or 15ft. in depth, but its confined character and rare surroundings make it a good perception and taste.

Illustration of Scala Glen Waterfall
ScalaWood Waterfall.Click for larger version

A little above the fall, near the small farmstead, is to be obtained a view of another character. Here everything is in confusion, the rocks being scattered in wildest fashion everywhere in the valley, while away up to the right on the top of the scar, is seen a monstre block, which appears as if the hand of a child might send it crashing into the depths below. This is the Rocking Stone. Its weight is calculated to be 70 tons; but at present it is not so easily moved as formerly. The curious like to climb up to it and examine it; but there are no markings upon it to indicate that it has ever had any Druidical connection.

Retracing our steps we take a footpath which leads along the Edge Side, past a number of farmhouses to Grassington. The first of these is called Pickering End - Pike Ring End may be the meaning, and possibly a Druids circle may have been here. The next place is Garn Shaw. Of this, the "garn " or enclosure remains, but he would be a clever man who could find the "shaw " or wood. Another dwelling we pass is Wise House, so called from having been the abode of the wise man of the district, to whose oracle the inhabitants at one time resorted in cases of supposed trouble from witchcraft. All along we have extensive and splendid views both up the dales and down the dales, and one especially glorious between Swinden Hill and the fells, to Pendle Hill, in Lancashire a distance of nearly thirty miles. We enter Grassington by the way of Horse Gap Yett.