People visiting the tiny hamlet known as Hall Bower should have no trouble finding the place, it being in the shadows of the area’s oldest and most impressive landmark, Castle Hill. Unlike Castle Hill, however, apparently first settled by Neolithic man around 2000 BC, Hall Bower was only recently populated.
Although we cannot give an exact date as to when Hall Bower’s first residents moved in, records indicate that the area was first settled some time between the fourteenth and fifteenth century and that the name Hall Bower refers to the grand eponymous house that once stood in the village. Not much is known about this dwelling other than it was home to the Beaumont family for a few generations.
The Beaumont family had certainly been living close to the area prior to the building of the hall and were involved in the infamous Hall Bower Murders, Hall Bower’s very own enactment of the Wars of the Roses (a power struggle between the two families of the Houses of York and of Lancaster that had been ongoing since 1455). Apparently in 1471, a year after King Edward IV had been overthrown by Lancastrian rebels and fourteen years before the Battle of Bosworth Field settled the Wars of the Roses, two groups met in a field either in or close to Hall Bower, where the Battle of Bower took place.
One group, the Kayes, was led by John Kaye of Woodsome and the other, the Beaumonts, by Nicholas Beaumont of nearby Newsome. Although both groups were from Yorkshire, one of the Kaye side (who has since been accused of being in the area specifically for trouble!) hailed from a family called Overall in Lancashire. Perhaps then, this was Hall Bower’s very own War of the Roses or more likely an argument over money and property between two locally powerful families that turned violent. As a result of the battle three men lost their lives, one was seriously injured, two women both named Jane Beaumont (the wives of Nicholas and his son, John) were both widowed and the sum of £44 was paid in compensation. Surprisingly though no-one was imprisoned for the deaths!
After the Hall Bower Murders records show that the Beaumont family had moved into the house from which the village takes its name. The Hall then passed to the Lockwood family and then the Blackburns. By this time (the mid to late sixteenth century) according to parish records other people had begun making Hall Bower, or Hallboure as it was then known, their home.
Many of Hall Bower’s early inhabitants would have made their living spinning and weaving cloth. They would have been provided with the raw materials by clothiers who would return to collect the finished product for selling at the local market. Indeed, the Blackburns were clothiers. The ‘Domestic System’ of textile production as it was known, continued operating in the West Riding until the Industrial Revolution led to the building of mills and factories. Hall Bower, primarily because of its location (not being close to water supplies) was not directly affected by the Industrial Revolution (that is mills and factories were not built in the village) but its inhabitants’ way of life would have changed dramatically.
No longer able to work from home, Hall Bower’s small population (estimated to be c.150 by the nineteenth century) would have had to walk to the mills and factories in nearby Armitage Bridge, Lockwood and Almondbury.
It was during the nineteenth century that two important things happened in Hall Bower: the building of what is known today as Hall Bower Chapel and the demolition of the house from which the village took its name. The chapel, built in 1814 by public subscription, was a day school as well as a place of worship. It is believed that the building of the chapel was part of the wider national campaign to civilise the behaviour of an increasingly unruly section of the emerging industrial working class. Indeed John Wesley said of the residents of Huddersfield ‘A wilder people I never saw in England. The men, women and children filled the streets and seemed just ready to devour us’ and the school in Hall Bower was reportedly built ‘to tame the wild, rough youths of the neighbourhood’ to which Wesley had referred. Today known as Hall Bower Chapel, the building has gone on to play an important role in the lives of local residents.
The second important development was the demolition of Hall Bower itself. As previously mentioned the hall had been home to the Blackburns who subsequently sold it to William Oldfield around 1715. In 1828 the property was again sold for the sum of £490 to one Thomas Brook and 39 years later became part of the Ramsden estate. Between 1867 and the turn of the century the building was demolished, for reasons unknown, leaving historians to speculate over the building’s location and purpose.
Hall Bower has witnessed little change in the twentieth century, although there was disruption to everyday life in the village on at least two occasions: in August 1940 residents were rudely awakened (some were apparently blown out of bed) by the landing of two bombs in the village and in 1947 the ‘Big Snow’ caused residents much inconvenience.
There has been some building of houses in the village but Hall Bower has been fortunate that it has not been subjected to the same level of housing development as other villages in the area. Today it remains a peaceful village in an idyllic setting (having fantastic views in all directions); home to.
ON TENTER HOOKS! The saying ‘being on tenter hooks’ used to evoke a very different image to the one we would imagine. Today we would use the phrase to mean that one is in a state of anxious suspense. But originally the saying referred to a part of the textile manufacturing process. After the cloth had been woven it was taken to a fulling mill to be cleaned. It then had to be dried carefully to prevent it from shrinking or creasing. The lengths of wet cloth were therefore placed on wooden frames, and left out in the open for some time to allow them to dry. These frames were the tenters and the tenterhooks were the metal hooks used to fix the cloth to the frame. In Hall Bower the pieces of cloth would have been taken to nearby fields, off Tenter Lane (no longer in existence) known as Lower Tenter Croft and Upper Tenter Croft (now the home of Hall Bower Cricket Club) and placed on the tenters.
CASTLE HILL OR CASTLE MOUNTAIN? A mountain is defined as being higher than 999 feet and anything lower than this is a hill. Prior to the building of Victoria Tower in 1897, Castle Hill, as the name suggests, was indeed a hill but after the Victoria Tower was added it should perhaps have been renamed Castle Mountain, achieving this status by just 6 feet. The landmark only remained a mountain for 60 years because in 1960 repairs led to stones being removed thus lessening the height of the monument. Just 17 years later though, it regained its mountain status with the addition of a lantern which once again took the hill’s height to over 999 feet.
Hall Bower timeline
c.2000 – BC Earliest settlers on Castle Hill.
1471 – The Hall Bower Murders take place.
1557 – Records show that people are living in Hallboure.
1584 – A house called Haule Bowre is mentioned in documents.
1588 – Beacons are lit on Castle Hill to celebrate the defeat of the Spanish Armada.
1784 – 9th July: John Wesley visits nearby Almondbury.
1812 – Luddites are active in the area, attacking machinery at nearby Lockwood.
1814 – Hall Bower Chapel is built.
1820 – 1st April: the Huddersfield Riots take place and beacons are lit on Castle Hill.
1829 – A hoard of coins, including 200 Roman coins and 16 British gold coins, is found on Castle Hill.
1833 – The day school at Hall Bower has 177 scholars (83 girls and 94 boys).
1842 and 1848 Chartists, a group of people campaigning for electoral and other reforms, meet on Castle Hill.
Written by Lindsay Pollick and shamlessly stolen from this page