Sowood Manor House
This very old building was shown as a Manor House on early OS maps and it is believed to be the original Sowood Manor House. Located just to the right of the long driveway leading to Ossett Academy, Douglas Brammer has produced this sketch showing what the old Manor House looked like before it was demolished in the late 1950s. The old Manor House had a datestone of 1684, making it older than Sowood farm by 5 years.
There are no other pictures anywhere, but the building appears on some aerials photograohs. This side of the house is shown facing Victoria Mills. Douglas recalls nipping over the wall to escape one of the school prefects when he didn't have his school cap with him. In those days, it was part of the school rules that you had to wear the school cap up to a certain age or suffer a detention if you were caught without a cap.
It is understood that a high wall was built on the lane to Park House, close enough to the Manor House to entirely block the south facing view across the Calder Valley which had been enjoyed by the occupants of the Manor House for almost 200 years. The south facing entrance of the Manor House was thereafter used as the rear entrance and the new front entrance enjoyed a view of Victoria Mills.
Dating back to the 13th Century, Sowood, or South Wood, appears first in 1277 as Soutwode in the Manor of Wakefield Court Roll. About this time Sowood was a Manor in its own right and became known as The Manor of Southwood or Southwood Green and because there was a Manor there must have been a Manor House. 14th Century references to Sowood indicate the presence of a manor house with120-180 acres of park land and farming activity but none of those references specify the location, within Sowood, of the manor house, the park or the farm.
There are two possible locations for the Sowood Manor House, originally timber framed but subsequently replaced or re-built. One is the site of Sowood Farm (with datestone 1689 & the initials F.M. of the builder, Francis Marsden). The other possibility is that it was the above house, (built in 1684 with the initials E.G.) located on the road, Park Lane, leading to Ossett Academy. Moreover in 1775 some121 acres of land, to the west of the Academy, towards Healey Road and the river Calder was owned by William Oates. His grandfather, also William, was Lord of South wood green in 1709. Several of the field names in that land holding ( e.g. Warren Close, Peacock Close, Laithe Close, Far Park & Pale Close) suggest the presence of a parkland used, at one time, for rearing and keeping animals for the Lord’s table.