THANK YOU IAN BLAMIRES
We would like to thank Ian Blamires for his contribution and support to What’s On Birstall.
His enthusiasm was clearly evident at our presentation to the Birstall Chamber of Trade when we had a very early concept (and did not even have a name!).
Since then, Ian has contributed information for large sections of the website along with other Birstall Community Trustees.
His work is well known in Birstall with the Community Centre, Birstall in Bloom, the Rotary Club of Birstall Luddites (along with many other projects).
TAKE A STROLL AROUND OUR VILLAGE
A street sign Ian produced with the Trustees and the Rotary Club showing key historic locations can be seen just outside the Library. Go down and take a look and then have a relaxing stroll around our beautiful village and see everything that Birstall has to offer.
The Market Place also hosts “Birstall Market” every Thursday morning and many other activities are held during the week at local venues such as Birstall Library. Visit our Community Corner to see “What’s Going On”!
Special thanks also to Maggie Blanck who features throughout the website with her amazing collection of photos and Jennifer Graham for her literary and photo contributions.
OAKWELL HALL & COUNTRY PARK
Oakwell Hall was built in 1583 by the Batt family around a timber framed 14th century house. The house is furnished as in the 1690s and offers visitors a real insight into a post-English Civil War household.
The site also includes over 100 acres of Country Park, a visitor centre, gift shop, nature trail, picnic sites, playground and countryside centre. The Hall has many Brontë connections and is reputed to be haunted.
ST. PETER’S CHURCH
The present building is the fourth stone church to occupy the site. The first stone church was built around 1100 AD and the lower part of the tower is all that remains of the building today. It was extended between 1320 and 1390. From that period the church has a Norman font, holy water stoops, part of a grave slab and the tombstones of three Knigths Hospitallers.
In 1490 the church was rebuilt again. There were various changes and additions until the present church was built between 1835 and 1870. The Rev. W. M. Heald, vicar of Birstall, inspired Charlotte Brontë’s character the Rector Mr. Hall in her novel Shirley published in 1849. There are numerous carvings and artefacts of great historical interest in the church..
THE BLACK BULL INN
Dating in parts from the 17th century this Grade II Listed building attracts visitors from near and far to enjoy hand-pulled ales and good food in historic surroundings. The inn once served as the local courthouse and the first floor function room still retains the original craftsmanship of its past, including wall panelling, the Magistrate’s Box and Prisoner’s Dock. The last trial was held here in 1839. It is speculated the present structure hides a much older core of another building which predates 1600 and once stood on the present site.
RED HOUSE MUSEUM, GOMERSAL
A Grade II Listed 1830s cloth merchant’s house with fascinating Brontë connections. Charlotte Brontë visited the house often to see her friend Mary Taylor. In Charlotte’s novel Shirley the Taylor family were the originals for the Yorke family and Red House featured as Briarmains.
A visit will include period rooms, enchanting recreated gardens and exhibitions in restored outbuildings.
ADWALTON COMMON, DRIGHLINGTON
Although partly built on now, this historic site is well worth a visit. With imagination and some research you can visualize the battle which took place here on the 30th June 1643. In the battle of Adwalton Moor the dogged resistance of Parliament’s heavily outnumbered Northern Association army was finally broken. But Lord Fairfax’s small, mainly infantry forces had come close to a stunning victory. In retreat, Fairfax’s army travelled down Warren Lane towards Oakwell Hall, some of them seeking refuge there before retreating further in disarray.
HEALDS HALL HOTEL, LIVERSEDGE
Built in the early 19th century, Heralds Hall was a boys’ boarding school and the home of the forceful Rev. Hammond Roberson, who actively opposed the Luddites. Charlotte Brontë saw him only once but heard many stories about him on which she based the strong character Mr. Helstone in Shirley.
Healds Hall has been family owned for the past 40 years and now has accommodation in the form of 24 tastefully decorated bedrooms. The property has achieved a great reputation for outstanding food and are proud to boast many great reviews for culinary excellence.
JOSEPH PRIESTLEY (1733-1804)
Born in 1793 at Fieldhead, Birstall, Joseph Priestley was a theologian, dissenting clergyman, natural philosopher, chemist, educator and political theorist who published over 150 works. He attended Batley Grammar School and lived for many years at The Old Hall Heckmondwike with his aunt after the death of his mother. An experiment which resulted in his discovery of oxygen is represented by his statue in Birstall Market Place, which was erected in 1912.
GOMERSAL METHODIST CHAPEL
Situated at the top of West Lane, Gomersal, the round structure of this well-loved local landmark has earned it the affectionate nickname the ‘Pork Pie Chapel’.
Buried in the grave yard is Mary Taylor who lived at the Red House, Gomersal and was a great friend of Charlotte Brontë. In 1845 Mary emigrated to New Zealand and returned to Gomersal in 1860 a wealthy woman after building a very successful retail business in New Zealand. She was a great writer and traveller and published her novel, Miss Miles, in 1890.
BATLEY GRAMMAR SCHOOL
Situated on Carlinghow Hill approximately 2 miles from Birstall centre, the school was founded in 1612 by Reverend William Lee. Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) who was educated at Batley Grammar School as a young boy. At the time he lived with his aunt Sarah at The Old Hall, Heckmondwike, after the death of his mother.
Sir Titus Salt (1803-1876) the founder of Saltaire on the outskirts of Bradford was also a pupil at Batley Grammar School. The school continues to educate young people of the area and maintains the best of its history and ethos whilst being equipped and resourced for modern times.
RYDINGS HALL, BIRSTALL
Now within the grounds of the paint company PPG, the Grade II listed building., built in the 19th century, also incorporates some 18th century features.
The house was the home of Ellen Nussey, friend and correspondent of Charlotte Brontë who was with her brother, Branwell, was a frequent visitor to Rydings Hall and Brookroyd House in the 1880s. Rydings Hall became Thornfield Hall, home of Mr. Rochester, in the novel Jane Eyre.