Horbury Hall is reputed to be the oldest building in Horbury, dating back at least to the 15th Century. Sadly, it is now in a very dilapidated condition and has been allowed to fall into decay by its present owners. In his 1870 book "Walks about Wakefield", William Scott Banks describes Horbury Hall as it was in 1869:
"In Church Street, opposite the south door of the church, stands a large house, formerly called Horbury Hall, now occupied by several tenants and much cast down. It has on the ceiling in the western end where Mrs. Walker, the butcher lives, Queen Elizabeth's arms in plaster, and at the eastern end, the same, with the date '1595.' This was the house of the Leekes. Since the time of the chief members of this family, it has been divided into two or three properties. In the Wakefield Manor Court Grave Rental of 1709, Thomas Leeke, gentleman is charged as owner of part of it, and it is then stated to have been lately Dr. Leeke's."
Above: Horbury Hall in the 1980s. This photograph courtesy Neville Ashby.
On Church Street facing the church’s south façade is Horbury Hall, which is a Grade 1 listed building, built on an earlier site for Ralph Amyas who was deputy steward of the Manor of Wakefield between 1478 (dendro date) and 1492. The structure represents a very complete survival of a 15th Century gentry house, the spere-truss and cusped windbracing being the only examples as yet identified in Yorkshire.
Formerly known as 13 Church Street, at one time the hall consisted three bays parallel to the street (known as 13, 15 and 17 Church Street) plus an east and west wing. The west wing with a gable was at right-angles to the street and covered part of what was the Cherry Tree Hotel car park. The east wing was situated on what was the west side of School Yard. A chimney stack was all that remained embedded in the gable end of 8, School Yard. The west wing was demolished in the 1930s and the east wing was demolished in 1938.1
When Ralph Amyas died, Horbury Hall passed, first, down the male line and then to his grand daughter, Alyce, who married Brian Bradford of Clarke Hall. In 1559 their son, Robert, surrendered the property to the Manor Court and it passed to George Saville of Wakefield. After the death of the last male Amyas heir it is probable that the building was never again used as a substantial timber framed house with a large hall, open from ground to ridge, with domestic and private rooms leading off.
In 1572, George Saville was said to have two parts of Horbury Hall, it being thought that the division of the Hall into 2/3rds and 1/3rd happened about the time of the death of the last Amyas male line in 1539. The Pickering family lived there in 1660s and also in 1709 according to the Wakefield Manor Book of that year.
The 1673 datestone, which is at the front left of Horbury Hall and shown in the picture below has the Latin inscription " Et ingressum meum" which means "And my entry (or entrance)" suggesting that at some time it was an access door into the house or maybe the garden. Photograph courtesy Anne-Marie Fawcett.
Thomas Leeke was subsequently charged with holding all five parts of the Hall, suggesting that further division of ownership, if not structure, had taken place. The Leeke family originated in Halom, Nottinghamshire and were close friends and associates of Sir Gervase Clifton, once Lord of the Manor of Wakefield in the late 17th Century. In 1749 part of Horbury Hall was surrendered to John Ellis of Horbury, dry salter.
Horbury Hall subsequently came into the possession of John Scholefield (1760-1850), Horbury Attorney at Law whom, by the time of his death, was the owner of 72 acres of land and the second largest owner of land in Horbury. In 1791, John Scholefield married Elizabeth Bayldon, the widow of the builder of Carr Lodge, Horbury. John and Elizabeth had one child, Margaret, and in 1827 she married magistrate William Walker Battye of Skelton Hall, near Richmond in North Yorkshire. They had four children including Richard Battye (born 1834) who became a Barrister at Law. Thus Richard Battye was John Scholefield’s grandson.
In 1866, Richard Battye, of Skelton Hall and Crosland Hall, Yorkshire, married Frances Bibby, the daughter of James Jenkinson Bibby, the High Sheriff of Shropshire and an enormously wealthy man who had founded the Bibby Shipping Line. In 1867, Richard and Frances had their first child and only son, Lionel Richard James Scholefield Battye, who went on to an Eton education and a career in the 13th Hussars where he rose to the rank of Captain. He thus became well known as "Captain Battye."
Captain Battye’s father and grandparents died between 1869 and 1873, leaving 331 acres of West Riding land and property to his widowed mother, Frances. This included land in Ossett, including Sowood Farm, and in Horbury including Hallcroft, Nether Hall (subsequently the Shepherd’s Arms), and Horbury Hall. Many of the Horbury land and property ownerships had once belonged to John Scholefield who was, of course, Captain Battye’s great grandfather.
Thus, to most Horbury residents, all that was known was that Horbury Hall was owned by a Captain Battye, who lived in London. It was also known that he also owned the Shepherds Arms and houses in Dawson's Yard. His tenants were required to pay their rents to the landlord of the Shepherds Arms each week.
Captain Battye’s mother, Frances, died in 1921 and Captain Lionel Richard James Scholefield Battye of 64, Cadogan Square London died on 15th May 1947 and the huge estate which he inherited was subsequently sold.
In February 2016. the Land Registry, recorded that the property known as 13, 15, & 17 Church Street, Horbury, known to most as Horbury Hall, was acquired in September 1978, and is still owned, by David John Harold Michelmore and Catherine Elizabeth Ord Michelmore. In April 2016 the property appears to be unoccupied but seemingly remains the registered address of Building Conservation Services and the Consultancy for Conservation and Development. Their website 2 proudly proclaims that “Several hundred projects have been undertaken in the UK for the conservation of historic buildings and ancient monuments”. The website adds that the Conservation and Development Team’s Principal is David Michelmore B.A., M. Phil. and helpfully adds that David Michelmore is a "specialist in the conservation of cultural heritage."
Wakefield historian W.S. Banks wrote that Horbury Hall was "much cast down" in 1869. Sadly, in 2016, the Grade I Listed 15th Century Horbury Hall 3 is much more cast down than it was almost 150 years ago.
1. "Bartlett's Wakefield and Horbury - The collected local histories of Kenneth Smith Bartlett" - Museum Digitisation Service (2006) by Phil Judkins.
2. Building Conservation Services web site.
3. British Listed Buildings - Horbury Hall web site.
Thanks to Alan Howe, Ossett for his major contribution to this history of Horbury Hall.
Stephen Wilson, April 2016