Here is a (somewhat fanciful in places) history of the hall written in 1933 (Philip Ahier, the Halls in the Colne Valley, Huddersfield Advertiser Press)
SLAITHWAITE OLD HALL
Canon Hulbert, in his ‘Annals of Almondbury,’ tells us that the “old Hall which is still remaining near the boundaries of Marsden-in-Huddersfield was probably the residence of a family of note, that of the Tyases, the ancestors of the Kayes of Woodsome, one of which latter family afterwards built the Manor House of Slaithwaite”
Before describing this old Hall, it may be advisable to deal with the history of the manor of Slaithwaite. From the returns of the Doomsday Book, 1085-6, we learn that this manor was granted to Ilbert de Laci who also held the Manor of Huddersfield.
Between 1195 and 1211, the Manor appears to have been granted by Roger de Laci, then Lord of the Manor of Pontefract, to Henricus Teutonicus. This surname in some inexplicable manner became altered to Tyas for there are documentary references to Sir Baldwin Teutonicus vel Ties (or Tyas) who lived in Slaithwaite in the middle of the 13th century.
In the ‘None Book’ of King Edward 1. dated 1298, there appears the entry, “Slaithwaite, John Tyas,” while, in the ‘Writs of Parliament’ for the year 1318, occur the names of John Tyas of Slaighewaite and Richard Tyas of Farnley. (Farnley Tyas is so called to distinguish it from Farnley, near Leeds). Another Tyas, Henry by Christian name, was executed for having taken part in the Earl of Lancaster’s rebellion against Edward II. (1322) but there is no mention of either John or Richard Tyas above mentioned having taken part in this rebellion.
It seems probable that the estates of Farnley Tyas, which included Woodsome, and the estates of Slaithwaite were held by members of the same family and that ultimately they reverted to one of the Tyases, for the Kayes of Woodsome who subsequently succeeded the Tyases, inherited both sets of estates.
The late Mr G.W.Tomlinson, in his annotations of the references to the Manor of Slaithwaite mentioned in the Dodsworth MS., gave a complete account of the Tyases, the Finchendens and the Kayes of Woodsome, while Mr. Taylor Dyson, M.A, in his ‘History of Huddersfield and District’ discusses these families very thoroughly.
The late Mr D.F.E. Sykes in his ‘History of Huddersfield and District’ suggested that “probably the seat of John Tyas of Slaighewaite was at Slaithwaite Hall” which in his opinion, “was assuredly the most ancient structure in the Valley of the Colne”. If credence can be given to this statement, then it would seem that Slaithwaite Hall dates as far back as the 14th century; in any case, what remains of the Hall at the present moment suggests 15th century architecture.
After the extinction of the Tyas family, the Hall on course of time fell to the Kayes of Woodsome, until the last of that line, Sir Arthur Kaye, died in 1726, leaving an only daughter, Elizabeth, who married Viscount Lewishham, the eldest son and heir of the first Earl of Dartmouth. Since that year, the Slaithwaite Estate has remained in the possession of the Dartmouth family.
The late Mr D.F.E. Sykes, in his ‘History of the Colne Valley,’ describes the Hall in these words “ Little remains of this venerable and once considerable pile, but that little suffices to show how rude were the edifices in which the gentry of old times were content to dwell. The outer walls are thick as well they need be to withstand the fierce blasts from the Western Ocean that beat upon the lofty eminence on which the hall stands. Oaken rafters much worm-eaten and curved by age span the low and confined rooms, once probably trod by knightly feet, now the shelter of humbler though not less worthy folk. On the boundary walls may still be traced the letter K.”
In his ‘History of Huddersfield and District’ he says, “If any reader desires to gather a lesson as to the progress made in the art of living, let him contrast Slaithwaite Hall as he may construct it in his minds eye from what remains of that venerable edifice, and any one of the more considerable mansions of our merchant princes in Edgerton, remembering that Slaithwaite Hall was once the abode of a knightly family.
Let us endeavour to describe in further detail the remains of the old Hall which has seen better days and which has lost almost all its former glory. The original Hall apparently consisted of a one storeyed dwelling some forty feet long and about fourteen feet high. At some later date, it was divided into three cottages which, in Mr D.F.E.Sykes’s days were occupied by tenants.. Two of these cottages have since been converted into farm buildings and store houses and are connected by a communicating door. The third cottage was pulled down some years ago and re-built as a stable. As already stated, the walls of the old Hall are very thick, being two feet wide in some parts. In 1933 some new door posts were placed in the entrance as the old ones were almost completely worn away.
In the cottage adjacent to the gabled dwelling-house previously mentioned can be seen the original stone floor although it is very badly broken in places. There can be no doubt that this room was originally the entrance Hall of the old mansion. It also contains a large open fireplace, no longer in position, but part of the chimney pot is still visible. The roof of this part of the Hall is supported by a massive longitudinal oak beam and also by two arched transverse beams which are two feet by one foot in dimensions. These rafters are held together by wooden pegs which measure four to six inches in length. At some later date this cottage possessed an attic but it has been removed. A door in this cottage leads to a cellar which goes down to a considerable depth and under the gabled dwelling-house adjacent to it.
The entrance to the Hall was by a doorway which formerly had two stout stone door-posts on both sides. On these posts can be seen some crude carving; they were afterwards broken into four pieces and now form part of the mounting block which lies against the wall of this cottage. On one of these stone steps can be seen an inscription which is probably a decorative form of the letter K.
The windows of the cottage are enclosed in thick stone frames, Canon Hulbert tells us that in his day, these windows contained some “old stained glass.” Nearly all these panes have, unfortunately, been broken by the lads of the district; only two now remain.
The other cottage which formed part of the old Hall retains its attic to which one formerly proceeded by an oak staircase now removed. Here can be seen old-fashioned stone cupboards build in the walls.
Some of the houses which stand in the immediate vicinity of the Hall are still used as dwellings but some have been converted into cowhides, outhouses and stables. Tradition states that these were the abodes of the tenants and servants of the Tyases.
Over a hundred years ago, all the top storeys of the then dwelling-houses in this locality contained weaver’s hand-looms. These were the days when the hand-loom woollen industry was in vogue before the advent of machinery in mills.
One of these houses goes by the name of the ‘Lithus’ or ‘Lit-house.’ The late Mr W.E. Haigh, in his ‘Glossary of the Huddersfield Dialect’ has the words, “lith-ess, lith-es, lit-es,’ the old name, now obsolete, for a dye-house, as litster, or Lister was for a dyer.” Perhaps this ‘Lit-house’ may have been the dye-house attached to the hand-looms. About sixty or seventy years ago, it was the abode of poachers who ran a club in this two-storeyed building containing old fashioned window frames and old oak rafters. Here in the evenings, they would foregather, tell their experiences, make plans for their next exploits; meanwhile the snuff-boxes would be passed around, clay pipes would be smoked and much liquid refreshment would be consumed!
The dilapidated ruins of a very old barn are opposite the old Hall, on one of the remaining cross-beams has been cut out the initials A.E.W. and the date 1703. The ‘artist’ also tried to cut out a coat-of-arms which would baffle any student of heraldry! The barn is about 75 feet long and 14 feet high. It is fast crumbling to pieces but one can still see the massive oak beams which supported its roof.
That the old Hall was an important place is proved by the names of the
fields and houses situated within a short radius:-
(I) Park Gate. Evidently at some former period the Hall was surrounded by a park, which may have had a gateway at its entrance.
(ii) Butts. This is a survival of the days when archery was practised; no doubt in this field was placed a target and upon it the tenants exercised their arrows.
(iii) Long Lands. These were, no doubt, the fields which belonged to the Lord of the Manor, in contradistinction to those of shorter length which were cultivated by the tenants.
(iv) Booth. The late Mr D.F.E. Sykes defined this as “a close adjoining, which would seem to point to a time when the farmstead of the Lord occupied its site.”
(v) Postern. This is a long passage a little over a yard wide and about 100 yards long leading down from one of the dwelling houses in the neighbourhood of the Hall to the fields on the hillside. It is fenced on both sides by walls built of loose stones to a height of about four feet. Chambers’ Directory defines a ‘Postern’ as either “a back door or as the covered passage between the main ditch and the outskirts of a Hall or Castle usually closed by a gate.” It is quite possible that in former days, this long passage now known as the ‘Postern’ may have been covered in some way and during the petty warfare’s which may have been waged by the Lord of the Manor of Slaithwaite against other local magnates, this postern could have been used as a hiding place or ‘cover.’ Behind the walls on both sides of the passage, the tenants of the Hall could have shot their arrows on the attacking party climbing up the hillside.
(vi) Dungeon. One of the houses on the hillside is so called. The name conjures up visions of dark deeds perpetrated in the Middle Ages when the Lord of the Manor had the right of erecting a gallows and executing his refractory tenants. At one time, the windows of this house were protected by iron bars but these have disappeared. Would these iron bars have been part of the original dungeon?
These place names which survive to the present day suggest, as the late Mr. D.F.E. Sykes was the first to point out, that Slaithwaite Hall must have been a dwelling of considerable importance in the Middle Ages.
Another building in the immediate vicinity of the Hall rejoices in the name of ‘Salt-Pie.’ It appears that a ‘Salt-Pie’ is a “building erected against another one” - a sort of lean-to structure.
On one of the outhouses near by can be seen some quaint bits of architecture. One of them is a stone window frame which may have been part of a church or chapel whose existence has been forgotten.
There are very few documents relating to the old Hall. The writer was shown by Mr E. Eagland, the agent of the Earl of Dartmouth, the Rental Book of the Estate for 1651-1653 but there is no mention of the Hall therein. The 1804 Rental Book contains the following entry “a farm house, three small cottages, and an old barn.”
It is marked on the “Plan of the Canal from Huddersfield to Ashton-upon-Lyne, 1795” (printed by T. Stockdale, Piccadilly, London) and written Slaightwaite Hall.
In the list of able-bodied men between the ages of fourteen and forty-five who were enrolled under the terms of the Militia Act of 1800 for the purposes of the Militia Ballot was Joseph Bamford of Slaithwaite Hall.
Canon Hulbert, in his ‘Annals of Almondbury,’ stated that he had in
his possession, a claymore taken there in 1745, from a Scotch rebel, evidently
endeavouring to reach Scotland after the collapse of the Younger Pretender’s
rebellion in England. This claymore had been preserved in the old