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Castle Carr, Luddenden Dean


Castle Carr is a mock-mediæval house, designed with a mixture of Norman and Tudor elements, which stood at the head of Luddenden Dean.

It stood at an altitude of 1,000 ft above sea-level.

On 13th October 1649, William Walker bought land here from John Farrar of Brearley, and built a house.

In 1842, there were records of a group of barrows at Castle Carr, but these may have been lost in the construction of a reservoir. Joseph Savile Stott wrote about the barrows.

The later house was built by Captain Joseph Priestley Edwards of Fixby who bought the land from the Enclosure Commissioners in 1852, when Saltonstall and other land was enclosed under the Warley Enclosure Act.

In 1853, the land was enlarged to around 1,500 acres when he acquired hunting rights and land at Saltonstall, Warley and Oxenhope. At the same time, he obtained angling and shooting rights, under the Halifax Improvement Act [1853].

Construction of the house was started in 1859 by architect Thomas Risley, and took over 8 years to build. Edwards recruited almost 100 men on the work. He was reported to be concerned for the welfare of the various nationalities employed, providing comfortable accommodation, ample supplies of coal, and a regular royal time for the local labourers and the Scots, Irish, French and Italian working on his undertaking.

The banqueting hall, 62 ft long with its bay, had moulded panels and a ceiling oak-framed on corbels, with inlaid panels and a massive stone fireplace on marble pillars. The floor was laid on springs for dancing. Carvings in stone over the doors represent A boar Hunt and A stage Hunt, and antlered heads and other trophies of the chase adorned the walls. There was a 52 ft long picture gallery. The Grand Hall, 60 ft high and 40 ft square, had a Great Stairway, with balustrades elaborately carved in white stone, and its newel capped with a Talbot hound. The gallery to which this stairway leads has rails richly emblazoned with swords, shields and other devices; Norman arches form the gallery's side walls. Two carved stone crusaders guarded the head of another stairway and more stone hounds stand beside the massive fireplace in the thirty three foot billiard room.

The 3 great wall ovens in the kitchen dominated the basement. Gas for the mansion was manufactured on the estate near the lower lodge. It is said that when the Castle was in full function a load of coal daily was required to maintain its fires and ovens.

The extensive landscape gardens were planned by the head gardener at Fixby Hall where Edwards lived in the 1850s.

The water garden was designed by John Hogg of Halifax, on behalf of Halifax Water Corporation in compensation for building the nearby reservoirs.

Edwards and his eldest son – Priestley August Edwards – were killed in a railway accident at Abergele, Wales in 1868.

The house and the reservoirs were completed in 1872 by Edwards's younger son Lea Priestley Edwards, who lived there 1875/1876, with John Hogg as architect.

In 1874, the house was offered for sale at auction, but was withdrawn at £36,500.

In 1889, a sale at auction was unsuccessful.

In 1892, William E. Leppington bought the estate.

In 1895, he sold it to John Murgatroyd of Broadfold.

The Castle Carr footpath trial began in London on 24th February 1898.

In 1939, the grounds closed.

On 27th May 1947, the grounds were opened to the public for the first time.

On 5th July 1949, the house was put up for sale by auction, but was withdrawn when bids only reached £9,250. Wood panelling from the house was bought and used in the Cat i' th' well, Luddenden Dean. Many of the farms on the estate were sold to the tenants.

It stayed in the Murgatroyd family until Ronald Hawley Murgatroyd, the last owner, put it up for sale at auction. Harold Gillings of J. E. Gillings & Company Limited of East Ardsley, Wakefield bought the now dilapidated mansion for £4,200 on 29th September 1961.

Demolition started in 1962, with only a few sections remaining today.

It is said that work on the demolition stopped when the workmen refused to continue because the building was haunted.

The house and gardens – with five ornamental fountains, of which one reaches 130 ft – were a popular attraction and are currently open to the public once a year.

A large fountain stood in the courtyard. This disappeared when the house was auctioned, and reappeared in the 1990s in a stone-mason's yard; it now stands in Trevelyan Square, Leeds.

The house was rarely fully-used and the Murgatroyd's used a part of the house as a hunting lodge.

Castle Carr is on private land and not open to the general public. It has been open during the Calderdale Walking Festival when there is a 6_mile walk over the moors stopping for lunch at Castle Carr and viewing the fountains. Details are available from the Hebden Bridge Tourist Information The remaining gateway and the water gardens are listed.

The gatehouse is a private dwelling.

The house was used as a model for Frender's Folly in the novel Man of the Moors by Bingley writer Halliwell Sutcliffe


See John Greenwood



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© Malcolm Bull 2014 / calderdale@aol.com
Revised 20:51 on 24th July 2014 / mmc293 / 10