Tithe Barn Street in Horbury was so named after the old tithe barn, which was used to store produce of the tithe. A tithe means a tenth and one tenth of every Horbury parishioner's income from produce of the land had to be donated to the church. The right to receive tithes was granted to the English churches by King Ethelwulf in 855. These tithes were taxes, which each inhabitant was compelled to pay. Horbury was a Chapel of Ease to Wakefield Parish Church, and the Vicar of Horbury was a Curate in Charge. The tithes which were collected from Horbury residents belonged to the Vicar of Wakefield and not to the Vicar of St. Peter's, Horbury.
Above: The top of Tithe Barn Street where it meets Church Street showing St. Peter and St. Leonard's Church. Picture by Helen Bickerdike in 2016.
Records still exist and the Horbury Tithe Account records the tithes that were paid by Horbury residents. The most common method of payment of the tithe was by giving straw or hay. One person paid in barley and another in a "muck miding" or manure to the value of 5 shillings. The total monetary value of the Horbury tithes in 1802 was £3 12s 0d. One ton of hay was valued at 2 shillings or 20p. Horbury residents paid "small tithes" to the Vicar of Wakefield; "great tithes" were paid in more expensive commodities like corn, and were payable to the Rector.
The tithe was a very unpopular tax and the system gradually ended with the introduction of the Tithe Commutation Act 1836, so that the tithe could be paid as a rent charge. Tithes were abolished altogether with the introduction of the Tithe Acts of 1936 and 1951 in the British Parliament.
The Horbury tithe barn was a large four bayed, timber framed structure constructed most probably in the 15th century. The tithe barn remained in church ownership until 1850 when it was purchased by William Stringer of Horbury from Canon Sharp. Stringer had the eastern half of the barn (Bay 1 and 2) converted into two cottages and the other two remaining bays were used for a variety of purposes over the years, including use as a weaving shed, rag warehouse, stable and even at one time, as a greengrocer's shop.
In 1904, the two western most bays were destroyed by a fire. This was the part still being used as a barn. The two badly damaged bays had to be destroyed.1 Remnants of the old tithe barn can be seen from the car park on Tithe Barn Street, which at one time used to be a graveyard. The remaining two bays of the tithe barn are now numbers 14 and 16 Tithe Barn Street.
Above: The Horbury tithe barn immediately after the disastrous fire in 1904.
Above: 14 and 16 Tithe Barn Street, the cottages made from the burned out tithe barn after the 1904 fire. Number 14 has been extended with an extension where the old burned out bays of the tithe barn were once located.
The Old Town School
The old town school in Tithe Barn Street was founded in 1708. The Horbury Common Lands Trust purchased the land on which they built the schoolhouse for £4. The original house, lighter in colour can be clearly distinguished on the left-hand section of the present house. The right-hand section was added in 1832, when the schoolmaster's house was enlarged.
There were conditions for use and one was that the schoolhouse had to be used both as a school and as a home for the schoolmaster. Another condition was that the principal inhabitants of the town should have the right to meet there for any business relating to Horbury. The reports of the Charity Commissioners provide an interesting record of the work in the school. In 1827, the school master taught ten poor Horbury children, if so many applied, and also such free scholars as applied and "kept school for children paid for by their parents." The Common Land trustees paid the schoolmaster's salary, which was £15 15s 0d per annum and in addition to teaching duties, he also had to write out the trustees' accounts. The schoolmaster was also provided with a school-house and the use of a further acre of land.
Above: The 1789 plaque, which was removed in 1954 when it became unsafe, but was reinstated in 1999 with the help of a grant from the Common Land Trustees to the owners of the building.
The school became too small to cope with the increasing number of children and a new two-storey building was added, by subscription, in 1789. This served a dual purpose: that of a day school and a Sunday School. The stone plaque on the gable end reads "Erected by subscription in An. Dom 1789, dedicated by the inhabitants and landowners to God, the King, and the children of Horbury."
The school was used on evenings for Penny Readings, the first being held on the 17th October 1865. The readings commenced around 7:30 p.m. and lasted for about ninety minutes. Scholars attending the church the previous Sunday were issued with a ticket, which allowed them in free of charge. Everyone else had to pay one penny. It was often the case that a policeman had to be called to sort out frequent disturbances. Readers included the Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould and Canon John Sharp.
By 1870, there were 54 boys and 59 girls between the ages of four and eleven years on the books, paying fees between 3d and 6d per week. One of the scholars learned Latin. Mr. Kendall was the master and he was assisted by members of his own family.
In 1886, the school was condemned and closed as a day school. For some years the building was used as the Parish Hall and Sunday School before being rented out to various people. The last leaseholder was Chappell, printers, to whom the building was eventually sold.
Above: This small building, which forms part of the premises is Horbury's old lock-up or "Kidcote" which dates back to 1710. It is a two storey building, the ground floor formerly being used as a prison with only a small stone basin for comfort.2
Above: Hargreaves Yard on Tithe Barn Street. Picture courtesy of Helen Bickerdike in 2016.
St. Leonard's Hospital
Along Tithe Barn Street the buildings named St. Leonard's Hospital are not the first to occupy the site. They were built by Canon John Sharp in 1888 to replace the original almshouse building, which was demolished circa 1887. In 1731, the original building on the site was left to the curate of the church and his successors by Richard Wormald, a yeoman of Horbury. The house was to be divided into tenements for the use of needy persons in Horbury. Wormald also left other property, the rent of which was to provide £1 for the preaching of an annual sermon; £2 to be paid to the school-master of the newly erected school, and £2 to be distributed among the poor of Horbury.
In 1745, an agreement was reached by the Rev. John Scott, the curate, that he be allowed to pull down the garrets, which were no longer used, and construct a granary with the building material. The inhabitants of Horbury agreed to rebuild the low rooms. In a report by the Charity Commissioners for 1827, the building was reported to consist of four rooms: two on the ground floor and two upper rooms, which were occupied by four poor Horbury widows. The building became to be known locally as "Bedlam", a derogatory name often given to almshouses at that time. By 1887, only one old person was still living in one of the rooms of the almhouse because the rest of the building had fallen into decay and was uninhabitable.
Above: St. Leonard's Hospital in Tithe Barn Street, Horbury.3
Canon John Sharp, the Vicar of Horbury raised money locally in memory of Queen Victoria's Jubilee in 1888 to demolish the old building and instead built four one-bedroom houses, with another dwelling behind for the Parish Nurse, who it was intended could look after the old folk and probably help cook their food. For some reason, the nurse was never appointed, but the building was used as a cooking centre for the girls of St. Peter's School. The Wakefield School of Cookery provided a teacher one day a week when 24 girls attended in the morning and 24 in the afternoon. Unfortunately, the scheme didn't last long and the house was eventually let to a private tenant.
In a letter to the Parish magazine, Canon Sharp wrote:
"We have had some difficulty in deciding what should be the name of our new almshouses - everyone seems to agree that the name of 'Bedlam' should be abolished. At first I suggested 'The House of Charity', but some people thought a confusion might arise between 'House of Charity' and 'House of Mercy'. After much discussion it has been decided to call them St. Leonard's Hospital, for in times past such buildings were commonly called hospitals, and in so much as the old Norman Church of Horbury, which stood upon the site of the present more recent one, was dedicated to St. Leonard."
The foundations tone for the new building was laid by the Rev. Sharp on the 5th May 1888. Another stone high in the side wall is inscribed:
"This hospital has been created to the glory of God for the relief of the poor of Horbury and in the memory of the Jubilee of our gracious Queen Victoria and was dedicated by William Walshaw, the first Bishop of Wakefield. October 6th 1888."
The area immediately behind the almshouses was a yard of terraced houses called "Ranter's Fold", so named because the early non-conformists from the Primitive Methodists who met there to worship were reckoned to enthusiastically "rant" loudly during religious services.4 Ranters Fold has now been replaced with modern bungalows.
1. "Bartlett's Wakefield and Horbury - The collected local histories of Kenneth Smith Bartlett", CD published by Museum Digitisation Service, edited by Phil Judkins, MA, MSc, FCIPD, FRSA.
2. "Looking Back on Horbury 2", by Christine M. Cudworth, first published privately in 2004.
3. Picture courtesy of Joan Smith and her Horbury and Ossett Family History web page.
4. "Proud Village - A History of Horbury in the County of Yorkshire", published 2003 by Horbury Historical Society from an original text by R.L. Arundale, the former Headmaster of Horbury Secondary School between 1944 and 1964.
Stephen Wilson, March 2016