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This landmark and icon of Halifax can be seen for miles around!
Wainhouse Tower is sometimes known as Wainhouses Folly, and is recognised as the tallest folly in the world!
Having visited Halifax a few times over the recent years, I'd been quite curious about this Victorian tower, and realising that you can climb it, vowed to do this one day.
During Ricky52's 2012 'Rushbearing and Scarecrows' meet, he'd oh so casually pointed it out, over the rooftops, on Friday night when it was illuminated. Then on the Saturday, when we drove past, mentioned that it was only open on Bank Holidays.
Sunday morning, after visiting the Gibbet, we headed off in convoy....... and it wasn't too long before I realised what our 'mystery item' was ...... yes, Ricky had arranged for the tower to be opened up, especially for our group!
A few of us set off upwards, climbing the narrow spiral staircase, which consisted of 369 (or 403, as some articles state) steps! No, I didn't count them, as I was busy concentrating on 'keeping going'!
For anyone with vertigo/ mobility/breathing problems, this would be quite a challenge. Also it can be slightly claustrophobic. Although I'm mildly claustrophobic, I didn't find this climb too bad, there are narrow 'windows' at regular intervals, though it's not so easy to return to the bottom, if people are ascending - 'passing places' are quite shallow. One of our party had some difficulty with the steps, as they were shorter than his feet.
The stone staircase encircles a red brick chimney stack, while the outer walls were constructed from locally quarried stone.
At the top,(well the first viewing gallery) the climb was worth it for the views over Calderdale, including Halifax, Sorby Bridge and Norland, where we visited during our weekend.
The tower is the tallest structure in Calderdale, standing at 275 feet (84 m), from its square base.
The upper gallery and steps are closed. Presumably, these aren't structurally safe.
Originally, it was intended as a chimney, to divert smoke from the Washer Lane Dyeworks, that were inherited by John Edward Wainhouse, following the death of his uncle.
Surprisingly, Parliament had passed the Smoke Abatement Acts, where chimneys had to be constructed to a certain height to clear the valley of smoke.
The chimney was constructed between 1871-1875 to the design of the architect Isaac Booth. Wainhouse and Booth fell out during this project, and Richard Swarbrick Dugdale, (Booths Assistant), was employed to add the ornate upper galleries and domed top.
So, this wasn't just any old chimney, Wainhouse wanted it to be pleasing to the eye as well as serving it's purpose. It was also 'to get one over' his neighbour - Sir Henry Edwards.
It had been Edwards complaint about the smoke from the works, that had resulted in the construction of the chimney. His later boast that ' From no house on the hillside, could anyone get a view of his private gardens of his Pye Nest estate' provoked Wainhouse to prove him wrong. Isaac Booth, was also Edwards architect! Booth eventually resigned due to the feuding 'masters', where his loyalties were often 'tested'
However, before the tower was completed, Wainhouse sold the dye factory to his works manager, who refused to pay for the completion of the chimney. Wainhouse therefore kept the structure, using it as an observatory for his own use. So it was never used as a Chimney.
Wainhouse died in July 1883 and the Tower was offered for sale by auction and there were plans to demolish it in 1893. For some reason, this was overturned, and in 1894, the tower was leased to Joe Brook Carrier, who opened the tower to the public, for viewing the surrounding countryside.
Since then, the tower has had several owners and purposes - A observation tower during WW2, a radio ariel, and the base was a hen coop for a while!
In 1918, it was purchased, by public subscription, by Halifax Corporation, then a year later Halifax Council took over ownership, which remains today.
In 1954 it was granted Grade11 listed protective status.
During 2006-08, the tower was closed forrepair/restoration work
Blue LED lights were added to the cupola, so that the tower would provide a spectacular landmark at night. Orange and green lights had been installed previously.
It continues to open to the public on certain Bank Holidays and other days such as Fathers Day (See web site for dates/times and cost) Remember your binoculars and camera!
Apparently you can purchase a certificate for a few pence, to commemorate your climb.
Written Sep 3, 2012
Address: Wakefield Gate, Halifax, Calderdale HX2 7DT
Phone: 0845 245 6000.
From Hell, Hull and Halifax, Good Lord Deliver us...
Hell is self explanatory, Hull is where prisoners were often sent, and Halifax was the place where you could lose your head!
THE HALIFAX GIBBET
“There is a Proverbe, and a prayer withall,
That we may not to these strange places fall,
From Hull, from Halifax, from Hell, ‘tis thus,
From all these three, Good Lord deliver us.
This praying proverb’s meaning to set down,
Men do not wish deliverance from the Town:
The towns named Kingston, Hull’s furious River:
And from Hull’s dangers, I say Lord deliver.
At Halifax, the law so sharp doth deal,
That whoso more than 13 Pence doth steal,
They have a jyn* that wondrous quick and well,
Sends thieves all headless unto Heav’n or Hell.
From Hell each man says, Lord deliver me,
Because from Hell can no redemption be:
Men may escape from Hull and Halifax,
But sure in Hell there is a heavier tax,
Let each one for themselves in this agree,
And pray, from Hell good Lord deliver me.”
From the Works of John Taylor -The Water Poet, who wrote from 1612 to 1653.
* jin or gin, an old abbreviation for engine.
The first visit of our weekend was to The Halifax Gibbet, located on Gibbet Street! I was expecting to see a cage, suspended from a pole (in Sheffield, near to my home is a pub called the Noose and Gibbet, with a gibbet containing a figure representing Spencer Broughton - Sheffields answer to Dick Turpin) Link, but instead found this to be a wooden guilitine.
John of Dalton is the first recorded citizen to be beheaded on Halifaxs' Gibbet in 1286., under the Halifax Gibbet Law.
The common reason for meeting your end this way, was for stealing woolen cloth! In those days, cloth making was a cottage industry, with the pieces (hence The Piece Hall, where cloth was traded) hanging on frames to dry in the open air. This cloth was 'of value to the realm' hence the death penalty ensued.
Anyone found guilty of either- hand-habend “having his hand in, or being found in the very act of stealing cloth.” or back-berand “ having the thing stolen, either upon his back, or somewhere else about him and carrying it away..” or confessand - having confessed to the crime, concerning the theft of cloth or other goods of the value of thirteen-pence half penny. The value was decided by 4 police constables, who were summoned by the 'arresting officer' to form a jury. The sentance could only be passed after the prisoner had confessed- It can be presumed that this was usually through torture. Those found innocent of the crime were released 'after paying their fees' - or in other words, they bought their freedom!
Within the legal boundaries of Halifax, those that were sentenced to execution by the Gibbets blade, were returned to their prison, to wait their final end.This was carried out after 3 Market Days or 3 Meeting Days had passed. Usually these were held mid week, cloth was sold on Saturdays in the Piece Hall. At each of the Market Days, the prisoner would be let out ....to sit in the Town stocks, on public view
There were a couple of methods of escape from being be-headed
One way was to somehow delay the drop of the axe, at which point if the prisoner was quick enough, he (or she-about half a dozen females were beheaded here) could make a run for it. If he reached the boundary of liberty, he couldn't be re-captured, but if he ever re-entered the boundary, he would be be-headed. If the prisoner had thought about this-to the north, the boundary was only 600 paces, to the South it was about a mile away, and to the West about 10 miles. Anyone getting away would therefore not even consider returning to Halifax would they? - Well for Some reason, one John Lacy, escaped the blade, and spent 7 years of freedom, until he returned to Halifax, where he was recognised, and beheaded in 1623.
The other way was to refuse to confess...as long as the goods weren't found in their possession, they were acquitted - Remember that most confessions were obtained by foul means, and being God fearing people, the act of perjury was considered more of a sin, and more frightening than the prospect of death. Perjury was a sin against God- who was the Ultimate Judge on Mans Fate - the judge of whether he went to Heaven or Hell!
The last recorded victims in 1650 were Anthony Mitchell and John Wilkinson of Sowerby.
Halifax was one of the last places in the country to retain the use of this punishment.
This isn't the actual gibbet, but a reconstruction, re-built here in 1974, ( but it was vandalised, and replaced again in 2003), on the original site
It's a good place for photo ops, as Dao Scoobydoofast and Hansi demonstrated!
I wouldn't have been surprised if a certain breakfast waitress wasn't to be found (in an earlier life), sitting here knitting, as the heads rolled!
Talking of heartless women - I'd met Mamawinnie an hour or so earlier, and thought she was a warm, friendly, kind woman and a good mother to Ryan (Scoobydoofast)
However - Check out my photo-
What kind of a mother leaves her son to his fate under the Gibbet blade, and walks away laughing!!!! ;-)
I've downloaded a short video of Vters at the Gibbet in 2008- but be warned- It's not just those who met their fate here that got a pain in their neck! - for some reason it's replayed at a strange angle, and I can't work out how to alter this yet :-(
UPDATE - VTers and guests visited the Gibbet on a drizzly Sunday morning, during Ricky 52's Rushbearing and Scarecrows weekend.
Updated Sep 3, 2012
Address: Gibbet Street Halifax West Yorkshire, HX1 5BA
Phone: 01422 368725
I first became aware of Old Tristram, from the carved stone 'milestones' outside Halifax minster, with the inscription 'Pray Remember the Poor' (pic 2)
Later, visiting the Minster, I spotted the Donations box, with the figure of Tristram holding it. It's by the South Door.
Well, this donations box dates back over 300 years, and is believed to be the only example of a Churches 'Poor Box' attached to a figure. Normally, these are long handled wooden boxes.
Tristram was a licensed beggar, who was allowed to collect alms for the poor of Halifax, from the porch of the church. His rent was paid by the church.
It is thought that he arrived in Elland, from Worcestershire in 1648, with a wife and two children. He was possibly injured, during the Civil War. How he ended up in Halifax is unclear.
He lived to 90, and was buried in Halifax in 1711.
From old church records, It is thought that his name was John Trusteram.
Before his death, the wooden sculpture was created by John Aked, a local renowned painter and carpenter.
The markers outside the Minster are the starting point for Tristrams Trails - For 1.50, pick up a booklet from the Minster, for one of the round walk trails around Halifax centre
-Trail 1, You 'follow in the footsteps 'of a milkman named John Newton and Dolly, his horse.
While Trail 2 you take on the personna of a Elizabeth Appleyard, a young girl, from 1860's Halifax, and explore the Woolshops, North Bridge, Old Lane and Dean Clough Mills, before returning to the Minster.
The trails have been planned by The Ways of Halifax, based at Causey Hall, next to the Minster.
I have these booklets, but haven't followed the trails - (Remembering to bring them to Halifax would help)!
Written Apr 25, 2012
Address: Halifax Minster, Causeway, Halifax HX1 1QL
The Square Church is adjacent to the older Square Chapel, Now a centre for culture and Arts.
It was built between 1856-8, in the Gothic Congregational style by Joseph James, and funded by the Crossley Family (John and Sir Francis)- Carpet Manufacturers.
It was built to rival the design of the church of All Souls on Haley Hill. Apparently both buildings were near to completion, and the architects were instructed to stop building before the last few feet of the spire, to see who would finish first. The Crossleys, loosing patience after some time, and stopped the spire at 235 foot (72 metres)- All Souls has an extra 12 inches on their spire.
The steeple of the Square church, became Grade 2 listed on 2nd March 1950.
The church closed in 1969. Two years later, arsonists caused considerable damage to the main body, resulting in demolition in 1976. The Tower and steeple were preserved.
When I visited in 2010, the church was surrounded by metal fencing, and it looked in a sorry state.
In 2005, there had been an emergency appeal for funding, as this landmark, was in a state of dangerous deterioration. The top 7ft was removed and repaired.
In March 2012, it appeared that more repair/restoration had been carried out. Still surrounded by meshed fencing, it was easier to get a view from the Chapel yard, of the gargoyles and stone carved heads etc.
Ladders could be seen at the top of the steeple - which was encased in a scaffolding platform.
Every time I view this steeple, I see something new of interest. My first visit, it was the ornate Rose Window (pic 5), my last visit - the gryphon gargoyle (pic 3) and the expressive stone heads around the doorways and windows - one reminded me of Oliver Reed (pic 4)
Written Apr 25, 2012
Address: 10 Square Road, Halifax, Calderdale HX1 1QG
The Square Churches (Chapel and Church) are named after their location, and not neccesarily because of their shape.
They sit side by side, and surprisingly, the brick church, which is now The Square Chapel for The Arts, is the older of these 2 Congregational Churches.
It is considered to be 'One of the most remarkable buildings in West Yorkshire and the only remaining square church in Britain'.
Built in 1772, it was one of the earliest brick buildings in the town. Most of Halifax's buildings are constructed of local stone. It was built to hold the congregation who had outgrown their chapel on Gaol Lane.
Titus Knight was responsible for the construction of this building. Knight had started his working life at 7 years of age, as a coal miner at Shibden colliery. Unusually, he was self taught in Greek, Latin, Hebrew and Classical history. He also had a religious upbringing, initially as Church of England, but after hearing John Wesley preach, he became a Methodist. He then fell out with the Methodists and became a Congregationalist. After giving sermons at Londons Tabernacle, he returned to Halifax, and set to, in 1772, with the construction of this 60ft Square building. The designer being Thomas Bradle(1753-1833), aged 18! It is believed that Bradley was responsible for the design of The Piece Hall.
The design of the Congregational church, was typically non-conformist, as it was open, with uninterrupted views of the preacher - Made possible by having no internal supports - The largest unsupported roof span in Britain at the time.
Titus became the first pastor of the Chapel, when it opened on 24th May 1772. He was visited by his old friend John Wesley, in July 1772 who admired the size and 'upmost elegance' of the new building, but declined an offer to preach here, instead opted for an open air meeting at the cattle market, as more people could gather to hear him.
The last sermon was preached here on 12th June 1857. Over the decades the Chapel was used as a Sunday School, Assembly rooms, Orchestra practice room and Scout Hut amongst other purposes.
In 1939, it was requisitioned by the army, when it began its fall into disrepair and dereliction. It was due for demolition, when a group of 6 Theatre lovers, formed the Square Chapel Trust, and purchased the building from Calderdale Council for £25.
The Square Chapel Centre for The Arts, is one of the areas most popular Performance centres, attracting over 40,000 visitors to see plays, musical performances and other art events.
The author Jennifer Sutcliffe has written Square Chapel Halifax:History and Architecture.
During my recent visit, I noticed plaques indicating that Titus Knight, Thomas Bradley, and John and Martha Crossley, founders of John Crossley & Sons, Carpet Manufacturers, who paid for the construction of the adjacent Square Church in 1855, amongst other important buildings in the town.
The front of the Chapel is 'paved' with gravestones - many with elegantly inscribed lettering.
Updated Apr 25, 2012
Address: 10 Square Road, Halifax, West Yorkshire HX1 1QG
Phone: 01422 35307 Fax01422 347928
Halifax Tourist Information is located in the Visitors Centre in the Piece Hall. Here you can find information, and books etc about Halifax/ The Calder Valley/West Yorkshire and beyond. There's a good range of gifts at reasonable prices. Post-cards are available from only 10p - 20 pence!!
I found the staff to be very helpful, especially in providing a useful folder of information leaflets and maps etc, for everyone attending the 'Pork Pie and Mushy Peas' meet. I was having trouble contacting the restaurant that we'd planned to eat at on the Friday night, and ended up contacting the TI - I spoke to Vanessa, who was very helpful, and found me a mobile number, she also posted me a pack of Halifax info, which arrived next day. I found out that the restaurant I'd planned for us to eat at had closed down a week or so ago, but found an alternative venue.
In this office, I also found an interesting Halifax Town Trail self guided walk booklet, and a book about the Rushbearing.
In the visiters centre, are some interesting information boards (pic 3)about the history of The Piece Hall and the textile industry, and historical events, including the visit of Blondin, the famous tightrope walker in 1861
During my recent visit (March 2012), there was an exhibition from past Olympic Games, including posters and programmes (pic 4)
Updated Apr 25, 2012
Address: The Piece Hall Halifax HX1 1RE
Phone: 01422 368725
The Union Cross Hotel, was originally called The Crosse Inn, as it stood opposite the old market cross, in the market square.
It is mentioned in records dated 1535, making it the oldest surviving inn in Halifax. The ‘Union’ was added at the time of the Jacobite rebellion .
The inn was the central coaching and packhorse halt in town, and its vicinity was good for business! Records from 1818 confirm that coaches left here daily for Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Nottingham. It was also from here, that goods were transported by horse drawn wagon, by public carriers, who offered this service.
At the front entrance, to the right, is a mounting stone
It had one of the largest cock fighting rings in the district, and this continued in an upstairs room long after the sport had been banned! Up to £30 could be won - quite a fortune for those times!
In 1680, the Inn was run by a landlady called Widow Mitchell-On the 31st August a cock fight took place, which was recorded by the non conformist minister, Oliver Heywood... "they drank all night and were so high in swearing, ranting at the Crosse that they were heard far in the town. Lord Eglington, a Scotch Lord, stood on horseback at T.C door, swearing, ranting, calling for sack, making people drink, 100 were flocking about them, then rid desperately along the Corn-market and light at Crosse, stayd most of the week – men went home with heavy heads and empty purses"
Oliver Heywood and John Wesley both visited the inn on seperate occasions, to try and 'save these sinners' Wesley had to give up an attempt to preach from its steps.
It is also believed that while staying at the inn, Daniel Defoe wrote part of ‘Robinson Crusoe’
In 1735,the inn had a bowling green.
Today, entertainment is in the form of Karaoke (Friday Night) Rock Night-Saturday, Quiz night (with Play Your Cards Right) Wednesday to win a Gallon of beer
Home Cooking, Draught ales :Carling, Fosters, Becks Vier, Stella, John Smiths Guinness, Strongbow and Magners Draught
Real ales available :Flowers Original, Tetley, Timmy Taylor Landlord, Old Speckled Hen.
A book has been written about this inn - "Dark Secrets of the Union Cross Inn at Halifax"
Well Gillybob, kaspian and myself had to visit here, during our VT meet - For Historical Research of course!!
A friendly welcome - We were asked what we wanted to drink - then invited to use the jukebox - free of charge!
We adjourned to the small outside yard, and enjoyed our pints!
Updated Apr 25, 2012
Address: Union Cross Hotel 10-12 Old Market Halifax HX11TN
Phone: +44(0)1422 256446
Before my trip to Halifax in 2008, I knew that my maternal Great Grandmother was born in Halifax, I didn't know until today, whilst visiting my parents, that my Great Great Grandparents were married in this church and My Great Great Great Grandmother was baptised here. Please see my Halifax intro page for more info about my Halifax connections!
Most of the churches architecture is from the 15th century, but the North wall contains pieces from 1120, and was the exterior wall of a previous church, which may have dated back to Saxon times.
In 1879, a major restoration was carried out of the interior. Sir George Gilbert Scott oversaw the work.
The outside blackened millstone grit walls are a legacy from the industrial past of Halifax.
The church was closed at the time of my first visit, but there was quite a bit of interest on the outside to see - particularly the 4 gargoyles near the main door. Now that I've found out about my family connections to this church, I have since returned a few times.
In 2009 this church became Halifax Minster - so is now formally known as The Minster Church of St. John the Baptist Halifax
I enjoy the peaceful atmosphere, while wandering around. At my recent visit at Easter though, there was piped music of 'Gregorian chants'
The Minster has much of historical interest, some of it unexpected!
The Holdsworth Chapel was built by Robert Holdsworth, who was vicar here from 1525-1555. A feud between the Tempest and Savile family, resulted in him being murdered in the vicarage by members of the Tempest family. A 17th century altar table can be seen here.
Bishop Ferrar - Bishop of St Davids is honoured by an impressive tomb at the back of the Minster.
During the reign of Queen Mary, he was martyred and burnt at the stake in 1555.
The Rokeby Chapel, was built in memory of another former vicar - William Rokeby -1502-1520. His heart is buried, in a lead box in the Minster!
Three vicars perished during the 14th Century Plague
The Minster has some interesting stained glass windows - However, on the South wall are 5 Commonwealth windows of clear glass. A gift to the church in 1645, as the previous stained glass windows were destroyed by soldiers, during the Cromwellian uprising.
The window on the East wall dates from 1851, and won First Prize for stained glass in the Great Exhibition. It was created by George Hedgeland, and gifted to the church by Edward Ackroyd, a local Mill owner/philanthropist.
Another chapel is dedicated to the memory of the Duke of Wellingtons Regiment (Now the 3rd Battalion of The Yorkshire Regiment) Old flags from various campaigns are displayed on poles or in glass cabinets.
Elsewhere in the Minster are memorials to local men who lost their lives in WW1, WW2 and other wars.
3 misericord stalls are seen on the right of the Sanctuary, which are thought to have been 'rescued' from Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds during the dissolution of the monasteries, between 1536-1541.
A further 6 misericord stalls are seen as part of the choir screen. These intricately carved seats, were known as mercy seats as they fold down to provided a ledge for weary derrieres to rest during the long services.
The Four-Manual organ (pic 3) has some original pipework from the 1766 Snetzler organ. It was rebuilt by Harrison & Harrison in 1928. During major renovation of the church in 1879, the Georgian organ case was replaced by the one seen today. The organ was also moved to this position, from the West Gallery (which no longer exists)
There is a donations box, for contributions for the planned renovation, and aquisition of a 1770 Snetzler organ- for organists to practice as part of the Halifax Organ Academy, which will cost £650,000
Throughout the year, there are organ recitals (Thursdays at 13.00hrs), open days, workshops and masterclasses, as well as concerts by local and visiting orchestras, choirs etc.
While wandering around, don't forget to look up to the ceiling - The wooden panels depict the Coats of Arms of local families, some of the vicars (from wealthier families) and the Tribes of Israel.
The font at the back of the Minster, has an intricately carved cover (pic 2), which is considered one of the finest examples in England. It's hard to imagine that at one time this was brightly painted green, red and blue!
During the time of the Commonwealth (1653-1659) the font cover was stored in a nearby house owned by a Mr Hartley. This is now The Ring O Bells pub.
Near the font is a carved wooden figure (pic 4) - 'Old Tristram' - a licensed beggar, who was allowed to beg for alms in the church porch, for the 'poor of Halifax' at the end of the 17th Century.
Open Daily- Winter 10.00 - 14.00 Summer 10.00 -16.00
Morning Prayer 0900
Communion service 12.30 weekdays
Sunday Services - see website or notice boards
Donation boxes for restoration and upkeep of the Minster.
At my recent visit, as I was about to leave I spotted a printed notice - 'Photography permits' - I'd been snapping away quite happily (without flash). I had put a donation into one of the boxes, as I usually do if I take photos - the volunteer didn't mention the permit.
There is a small gift shop, with post cards, guide booklets.
Volunteers are available to answer questions.
Information boards near the entrance offer interesting articles about the history of the church and Halifax from the Medieval Foundations.
Refreshments available, during events and maybe at various other times.
Updated Apr 25, 2012
Address: Halifax Minster, Causeway, Halifax HX1 1QL
Phone: 01422 355436
Shibden Hall is an old Tudor House and its most famous inhabitant was a landowning lady named Anne Lister (1791-1840). She's most famous for her 24 voulmes of preserved diaries. She was also a mountaineer and the first woman to climb Vignemale. Anne Lister made detail records in her diaries about everyday life in old Halifax. She also wrote in detail about her estate buisness, coal mining, her plans for Shibden Hall and her travels. She did a lot of travels in Europe but died in Georgia of a fever. Her most private thoughts about family and friends were written down with help of an secret alphabet.
Great guides and a small fee. Also has a small café.
Updated Apr 21, 2012
Address: Shibden Hall, Lister's Road
Phone: 01422 352246
The Halifax Piece Hall is a building in the town centre and used to be the centre for woollen handloom weavers some 200 years ago. It opened in 1779, with over 300 separate rooms arranged around a central courtyard. The term piece refers to pieces of cloth that were sold. Today is not a glamorous sight with only a very few shops around.
Updated Apr 18, 2012