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Things to See Round Leeds


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The Wigan joke, and the Yorkshire aphorism which has linked Hell, Hull and Halifax together for all time, has come perilously near stripping the great industrial district of Yorkshire of the last shreds of romance. Not even the statue of the Black Prince in the Town Square of Leeds will convince the casual motorist, stranded by Fate in the city, that the area in which he finds himself is not one to be got out of as quickly as possible. And yet there is no part of England where the layers of history lie so thick.

A few short journeys by car and he can touch the ancient Celtic civilization of the land, come in contact with the imperial work of Constantine, trace the hundred years' struggle of the Romanized Britons against the Saxons and the Danes in their dale Kingdom of Elmet, watch the struggle which followed the Synod of Whitby for the triumph of the Roman Church, follow the aftermath of many a Border affray, and see King Richard II dying mysteriously in Pontefract Castle.

Again, he can tap the dreary history of the industrial revolution and the tragedy of the Luddites at Longroyd Bridge near Huddersfield, and make an excursion into art and letters, not only through the admirable municipal gallery at Leeds, but in the company of the shades of Marvell, Wordsworth, the Bronte sisters, and Turner.

Let his first pilgrimage be a plunge into the industrial sea, and for this purpose he cannot do better than take Route 61 to Wakefield, once possibly part of a great manor belonging to the Saxon kings. The town was the scene of the bloody battle in the Wars of the Roses in which Richard, Duke of York, father of Edward IV, was killed. The parish church of All Saints, now a cathedral, stands on the site of the old Norman edifice.

The grammar school is an Elizabethan foundation, and will be remembered by many for its association with George Gissing. The school is closely linked with the family of the Saviles of Haselden Hall. Among its celebrities are included Dr. John Radcliffe, who founded the Radcliffe Library in Oxford, Dr. Richard Bentley, the famous Master of Trinity, Cambridge, and John Potter, whose elevation to the see of Canterbury produced the following entry in the churchwarden's accounts in 1737: 'Paid ye ringers by ye request of several neighbours Dr. Potter being made Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, five shillings.'

Leaving Wakefield by Route 638 the wanderer will take the road through Ossett - by some it is said to be a Roman way to Dewsbury, whose church enshrines some very curious and interesting memories. Here is the cross - said to be the third, at least - which recalls the fact in Latin that Paulinus "preached and celebrated divine service here in the year 627." Within the altar rails of the chancel are memories of John Peables (1684), who earned for himself the title of "Deul of Dewsbury" for his harrying of Dissenters. Doomsday recalls the fact that a church was situated here in Saxon times. Batley lies a little to the north, and the parish church there contains the chapels of the Savile family and of the family of the Copleys of Batley.

By taking Route 644 along the dreary valley of the Calder he will pass through Mirfield, and at the end of ten miles or so reach Huddersfield - a town whose name immortalises a certain Saxon called Oder, or Hudder, who settled near here. It was at the finishing shop of Mr. John Wood at Longroyd Bridge that that great protest against machinery which came to be known as the rising of the Luddites originated. Perhaps the pilgrim, as he views the centre of the heavy woollen industry, forgetting ail that Huddersfield has done for the comfort of the world, may regret that the Luddites were not successful; and he may be confirmed in this view when, passing hurriedly along Route 629, he finds himself at last in Halifax.

If the wayfarer is obsessed by the Wigan joke, he may regret that England gave an asylum to the Flemings who fled from persecution in their own country in the reign of Henry VII and started manufacturing here. A curious illustration of the passion for property aroused by the development of manufactures in Halifax is enshrined in Gibbet Hill. The magistrates had special power to inflict capital punishment on all persons who stole property to the value of thirteenpence-halfpenny. The prisoner could only be convicted, however, if he were taken in the act of thieving, if the stolen goods were found on him, or on his own confession. The final scene in the execution of the "Halifax Gibbet Law," designed for the protection of the clothiers, took place on a stone platform, the unfortunate victim being "turned off" by an instrument which might have given Dr. Guillotine the idea for his famous machine. It was in Halifax that Daniel Defoe wrote "Robinson Crusoe," and the famous Sir William Herschel was for some time organist of the parish church, for which the munificence of the Savile family was largely responsible.

To complete his tour, the tourist had best escape from Halifax by Route 647, and passing through Queensbury gain Bradford, which was once a dependency of Dewsbury. In its early days it was connected with the family of the Lacys, who may be said with the Saviles to share the feudal honours of the district; and as far back as the fourteenth century the rudiments of manufactures had been established there. The first mill was not erected till 1798.

In the Civil War the inhabitants espoused the Parliamentary cause, and with Sir Thomas Fairfax at their head marched against Leeds and wrested that town from the Cavaliers. Afterwards they were bloodily defeated by the Earl of Newcastle at Adwalton Moor, the earl only being dissuaded from making an example of the inhabitants by the vision of a woman who appeared to him at Bowling. The parish church of S. Peter, now a cathedral, is in the Perpendicular style, and was erected about 1458. The grammar school was long famous for winning more honours at the Universities than any other school in England. A short run along Route 647 and the tourist is back in Leeds, which he will leave next time for some of the most glorious country in Britain.

When the Roman Legions pressed northwards they were induced to linger in what was afterwards the West Riding by the discovery of lead mines. After active resistance the natives submitted and accepted Christianity as soon as that religion became the official faith of the Empire under Constantine.

The Empress Helena, the mother of Constantine, who was the reputed discoverer of the True Cross, is commemorated by many holy wells in Wharfedale - at Adel, Denton, Otley, Burnsall and Bramhope. The Celtic population of Wharfedale became strongly Romanized, and when the imperial forces were withdrawn in 418 they formed themselves into the Kingdom of Elmet, which held out against the Vikings for one hundred years.

At Grassington, in Upper Wharfedale, a Roman ^^ custom was still continued within the memory of those living. When the local fair was held, the inns were not sufficient to cope with the influx of visitors, and certain houses, therefore, were hired to accommodate them. These houses were distinguished for the occasion with ivy bushes hung over the doors - the ivy bush being the plant sacred to Bacchus. From this origin comes our proverb "Good wine needs no bush." Having been reconverted by the Irish Missionaries, the Celtic inhabitants of Wharfedale actively opposed for a while the authority imposed by Augustine. The Saxons, however, having sided with Rome, sectarian bitterness was added to the struggle that had long been going on between the invaders and the Celts of the Dales. At Otley there is a Viking warrior's memorial which tells of the age-long feud between the two races.

To make his way into Wharfedale the pilgrim cannot do better than take Route 660, which will bring him down through Bramhope to Otley, where, on the heights of the Chevin, there are Druidical remains. On the northern side of the river are two famous country seats, Farnley and Weston Halls. The former belongs to the Fawkes family, who include in their family tree the name of that opponent of Parliamentary government whom we still commemorate on November the Fifth. The Fawkes who died in 1825 was the friend and patron of J. M. W. Turner, and the large collection of that distinguished artist's drawings retained at the hall have given the little hamlet of Farnley a world-wide fame. Weston Hall, a little farther up the bank, once the home of the Vavasours, is a fine Tudor mansion typical of that period.

A couple of miles from Otley and we are in Burley-in-Wharfedale, where, in the fifties of last century two partners set up a mill. One of them was William Fison, and the other W. E. Forster - to be known in after years as "Buckshot Forster " and the author of the first Education Act. On the way to Ilkley is Denton Hall, the home of the Fairfaxes. It was from this house that the great Lord Fairfax - "Black Tom," as he was called - set out to fight for the cause of Parliament against Charles I. Marvell, the poet, must often have stayed at Denton with the Fairfaxes before he became Milton's colleague in the Latin Secretaryship, and if the wanderer is curious to discover the meaning of the poet's phrase, "A green thought in a green shade," he has only to look at the beauty of the surrounding country.

Ilkley, which is only two miles farther on, is full not only of Roman, but of still more ancient remains. The beautiful Rumbalds Moor abounds in prehistoric antiquities - the Cow and Calf, the Hanging Stone, the Green Crag - to mention only a few. Near S. Margaret's church is a prehistoric stone of peculiar interest. It is covered with concentric circles, and by some these symbols of eternal life are held to be similar to those found among the Ojibbaway Indians and the Chinese.

Farther up this valley we come to Addingham and then Bolton Abbey, one of the lavourite grouse-shooting centres of King George V. The Priory - it was never an abbey, though it is perhaps too late to change the name now - was built in 1150. A fourteenth-century bridge crosses the Wharfe here. By clinging to the road the pilgrim will miss the Strid and Barden Tower, and the wild loveliness which inspired Wordsworth. A good second-class road will carry him past Burnsall, where the church with its ancient font is worth seeing, and on to Grassington, where there was once an extensive Roman settlement. The British tribe of the Bri-gantes, who had a fortified camp at Ilkley, after being driven out by the Romans, tried to make a stand at Grassington, but the fact that there were valuable lead mines on Greenhow Hill, just above the village, made the Legions follow them. Two fine pigs of lead, bearing Roman inscriptions that they had been smelted in the country of the Brigantes in the year a.d. 87, ten years after the invasion of Agricola, have been found in these mines. The Romans held the place, with roads linking it to Ilkley and the camps at Addle borough and Bainbridge, until the Eagles were withdrawn.

Having come so far the traveller should visit Conistone, with its maypole, and Kilnsey, where there is the famous bone cave "Dowkabottom," and so to Kettlewell, once part of the great Percy fee. All this country - the Craven district - has been admirably painted in the novels of Halliwell Sutcliffe.

Turning back to Threshfield, he should take the road through Rylestone to Skipton, whose castle was built about the end of the reign of William the Conqueror. It was given by Edward II to Piers Gaveston. It was besieged for three years during the Civil War, and was afterwards rebuilt by the Countess of Pembroke as a residence. There are some interesting memorials of the Clifford family in the parish church. The traveller is now in Airedale, and in making his way back he should find time to visit the heights above Cononley and Kildwick - names which suggest the Celtic associations of the district. Here, on the Lancashire border, are some, glorious views, and close to Lothersdale is a fine old house known as Stone Gappe, which Charlotte Bronte immortalised in "Jane Eyre."

We are now in the Bronte country, the world of "Wuthering Heights," and in Keighley, the big manufacturing town through which the pilgrim must pass, there were, not so long ago, people still living who remembered that ne'er-do-weel brother of the three sisters - Patrick Bronte - who spent a great deal of his time where the wine flowed and he could escape from the gloomy atmosphere of Haworth Rectory. Turning off from the main road to Bradford, the traveller should take Route 6033 to the moorland village where the Bronte girls dreamed and worked, and their father exercised his cure of souls. Finding his way back to Keighley, the pilgrim should take the road through Bingley and Shipley to Leeds once more.

For his last tour abroad in the district he should take Route 61 - it is the road to Harrogate and Ripley. A run of ten miles or so will bring him to Harewood, where is the ancestral home of the Lascelles family, and where Princess Mary is a frequent visitor to her parents-in-law. WTe are now on the confines of the fertile plain of York, and the scenery is typically English in the richness of its colouring- - Harewood House seeming to complete the effect. After visiting Wetherby he should take the road down the valley to Tadcaster, which is the last town of importance on the banks of the Wharfe before that river merges in the Ouse. This was once, in the days of the Romans, called Calcaria, and was an outpost of the big military station at York.

Route 162 will carry him through Sherburn, where the church, built out of the ruins of a palace which the Archbishops of York formerly had here, is a very noteworthy building, and so on to Ponte-fract. In the days of the Saxons the town was known as Kirkby, and is said to have been one of the first places in England in which a church was erected and Christianity preached. When, after the Conquest, William made over the place to Ilbert de Lacy, the new lord, from some fancied resemblance to the Norman town where he had been born, called it Pontefrete. The castle he built enclosed about seven acres. The estates subsequently passed by marriage to the great house of Lancaster, and Pontefract Castle played a great part in the Wars of the Roses.

From here, by following the valley of the Aire as far as Route 639 will allow him, the pilgrim can wend his way back to Leeds, having tasted, if no more, something of the beauties that surround the great industrial capital of Yorkshire.


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Pictures for Things to See Round Leeds

THE CLASSICAL TOWN HALL AT LEEDS, BUILT IN VICTORIAN TIMES
THE CLASSICAL TOWN HALL AT LEEDS, BUILT IN VICTORIAN TIMES >>>>
LANDMARKS AT HUDDERSHELD AND WAKEFIELD; DEWSBURY CHURCH AND PAULINUS
LANDMARKS AT HUDDERSHELD AND WAKEFIELD; DEWSBURY CHURCH AND PAULINUS >>>>
FIFTEENTH CENTURY CHURCHES AT BRADFORD AND HALIFAX
FIFTEENTH CENTURY CHURCHES AT BRADFORD AND HALIFAX >>>>
AN AVENUE AT DENTON, NEAR BURLEY, AND ADEL CRAGS ON THE MOOR
AN AVENUE AT DENTON, NEAR BURLEY, AND ADEL CRAGS ON THE MOOR >>>>
FAMOUS CRAGS AT ILKLEY AND OTLEY, AND ILKLEY'S SAXON CROSSES
FAMOUS CRAGS AT ILKLEY AND OTLEY, AND ILKLEY'S SAXON CROSSES >>>>
A CHURCH AT ILKLEY, AND THE CHEVIN PATH AT OTLEY
A CHURCH AT ILKLEY, AND THE CHEVIN PATH AT OTLEY >>>>
A DRUID ALTAR NEAR KEIGHLEY, AND A VIEW FROM NEWSHOLME DENE
A DRUID ALTAR NEAR KEIGHLEY, AND A VIEW FROM NEWSHOLME DENE >>>>
THE WOODS OF BOLTON, AND THE GATEWAY OF SKIPTON'S HISTORIC CASTLE
THE WOODS OF BOLTON, AND THE GATEWAY OF SKIPTON'S HISTORIC CASTLE >>>>
DE LACY'S KEEP AT PONTEFRACT CASTLE, AND THE HOME OF THE EARLS OF HAREWOOD
DE LACY'S KEEP AT PONTEFRACT CASTLE, AND THE HOME OF THE EARLS OF HAREWOOD >>>>

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