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History of Castle House Farm

Updated: Jul 15, 2020

The history of Castle House Farm is more about the families and people that settled, owned and farmed the land rather than of the buildings.

Pre-Norman Conquest In pre-historic times, Northern England was populated by the Brigantes, a Celtic tribe. The earliest evidence of construction was Castle Hill, a defensive hill fort. The Roman Conquest of Britain eventually subjugated the Brigantes in c. 75AD. The Roman's main contribution to the area is a Roman Fort at Slack and as you would expect, a road (into Lancashire). Following the Roman withdrawal from Britain in 418AD and the influx of the North German tribes, it is believed by historians that the area was under the control of the Angles although the Huddersfield area was probably sparsely populated due to the land being less productive than areas to the east.

During the Viking period, 793-1066AD, Yorkshire and Northern England came under Danelaw, governed by the Danish Viking Empire.

Norman Conquest The Norman conquest of England was the most important event in British history and of our story as it led to the major change in land ownership of England and the introduction of the Feudal system. Many of the Saxon manors being given to William the Conqueror's supporters. Huddersfield was part of the Barony of Pontefract bestowed on Ilbert de Lacy.

In 1311 Henry de Laci died and his only heiress was his daughter Alice, who had married Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, the manors of Huddersfield and Almondbury became a part of the Duchy of Lancaster. In 1399 and the manors of Huddersfield and Almondbury were passed to the Crown

Tudor to Modern Times John Wode de Longley's daughter married William Ramsden in 1531, thus starting the Ramsden association with Huddersfield which was to last nearly 400 years. In 1572, John Byron sold all the manor of Huddersfield to Gilbert Gerrard, Queen Elizabeth the First's Attorney-General (who was probably acting for the queen herself) for the sum of £975.

The Manor of Huddersfield was a Crown estate when Elizabeth the First sold it to William Ramsden in 1599. The manor house was Longley Old Hall The Manor of Almondbury was acquired by the Ramsden family when they bought it from Charles I. A map commissioned by the Ramsden family to show the extent of their estate drawn c. 16/17th century shows that the land at Castle Houses was farmed by a Richard Heaton from Upper Park. A baronetcy was conferred on John Ramsden of Longley Hall and Byram in 1689.

Huddersfield became a municipal borough in 1868 and the development as a town during the 18th and 19th centuries was largely due to the Ramsden family. Under their stewardship a master plan for the town was designed and they set the standard for the style and quality of the ornate natural stone buildings described as "the second best example of a planned town in the North of England".

The town's most distinctive landmark, Victoria Tower was built on Castle Hill in 1899 to mark Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee as Monarch of the British Empire. In 1920 the Ramsden Estate was sold to Huddersfield Corporation for £1,300,000, the sale included most of the town centre and land within the Borough boundaries. Huddersfield and the Estate were incorporated into Kirklees, a new Metropolitan Borough set up in 1974 under the Local Government reorganisation act. The oldest building at Castle House Farm is the Laithe and from it's appearance, it was probably built c18th century. Interestingly building experts believe that the roof trusses were recycled from an even older building, the origins being unknown. The house was built originally as two houses (Nos. 12 and 14) c1840 and attached to the Laithe gable wall to the south. The site is reputed to have been last used as a wood cutter's yard before 1900. The Estate seems to have undertaken major refurbishment of their properties at Castle Houses between 1897 to 1900 from records of residents moving between properties at Castle Houses. The census during that era list names and street of residence but not house numbers, however the Burgess Roll of Huddersfield records give names and full addresses.

The roll of 1897/98 lists occupants as 12 - Henry Hirst 14 - Luke Earnshaw 24 - John Platt In 1898/99 occupants include 8 - John Platt 24 - Luke Earnshaw 12 - John Wood 14 - No entry 1899/1900 22 - Luke Earnshaw 24 - John Platt 12 & 14 - no entries 1900/01 12/14 - Benjamin Coates 22 - Luke Earnshaw 24 - John Platt 1911/12 12/14 - John Coates, Benjamin is presumed to have passed away and passed the tenancy to his second son. From the movement of residents between different house numbers we surmise that they were being relocated while major building works on the houses were being undertaken.

We also know that the estate had decided to create a farm at Castle Houses and build a range of farm buildings designed as a model farm together with combining 12 and 14 into the farm house. These building works were completed in 1900 and consisted of two continuous extensions on the north and east of the Laithe to form a courtyard open to the south thus forming a pleasant shelter from the prevailing south-west wind and from the east and north winds in winter.

The buildings consisted of a mistal for 20 cows, a two horse stable and a piggery containing two loose boxes. Two separate buildings, one a cart shed and the other being a tack room and toilet completed the range of buildings. 23 acres of land was originally allocated to the farm but with later amalgamation of farms this increased to a total of 144 acres by 1984.

Coates family and history and how they came to Castle House Farm The history of how the Coates family arrived at Castle House Farm has been handed down through the generations by the ancient tradition of stories retold to each new generation and to my knowledge has never been written down previously. Due to this method of recording family history some details become vague, forgotten or misconstrued over time, so we would appreciate information on any errors or gaps.

Benjamin Coates was born in the c1835 at Bloomer Hill Farm, a dairy farm situated just outside Silsden on Coates Lane, a small mill town between Keighley and Skipton in the West Riding of Yorkshire.

Benjamin started farming in his own right by taking the tenancy of a dairy farm at Littleborough, now part of the Metropolitan borough of Rochdale in Lancashire. The small, Pennine hill farmers made their living by servicing the demand for fresh milk by the towns that grew up in the Pennines following the Industrial Revolution. This was in the days before refrigeration and mechanised vehicles. The milk was delivered to the customer's door in a horse drawn "milk float". A "tap can" that held probably about 20 gallons and was placed on the floor of the float, from this a tap refilled the "delivery can" of about a gallon capacity and from this the milk was measured out into the customer's milk jug by a one pint or half pint measure, in local dialect a "milk ladle". Milk was delivered twice a day in summer because of the lack of refrigeration.

Dairy farmers at this time increased the size of their business by moving to a larger farm, consequently Benjamin moved to a tenanted Dairy farm at Hollingworth, then part of Cheshire. His next move was to a farm at Hollingworth Lake, back near to Rochdale.

The story goes that Benjamin was riding a horse through Berry Brow on his way to visit relations when he fell into conversation with a local man who informed him that Ladyhouse Farm, on the outskirts of the village was vacant. Benjamin applied for the tenancy and moved to Huddersfield. The first written evidence we have of Benjamin is from the 1875/76 census recording him as living at Ladyhouse.

Benjamin and his wife Sarah had three children, Thomas b1871, Annie and John. John was born c1883 at Ladyhouse and was quite a lot younger than his siblings, indeed his mother was reported as saying that she didn't relish having to wash nappies again at her age.

On 2 February 1900 Benjamin moved his family to the newly built Castle House Farm, relinquishing the tenancy at Ladyhouse Farm to Joe Bates, the two families have remained firm friends down to the present day. He also took an additional tenancy of Lower Park Farm, this passed to his oldest son Thomas and Castle House Farm was passed to John c1910.

John married Edith Harrison and they had three children Benjamin Walter (Sonny), Thomas and Sarah. The two younger children both died in infancy. Most of the farms in the area were termed as "flying herds". Because of the limited acreage of the farms and the need to maintain production to supply their milk rounds, the farmers bought newly calved dairy cows and sold them when they were in the "dry" period, between calves to replace them with another fresh calved cow. John developed a second business as a cattle dealer to supply this demand from local farmers for fresh calved cattle. He bought cattle from the rearing areas of Suffolk and the Yorkshire Dales and for a short period from South West Scotland. The in-calf dry cows he took in exchange he either sold on or farmed himself until they calved again.

In 1940 Sonny married Bessie Hollingworth, daughter of the blacksmith in Honley and took over the tenancy of Castle House Farm. John succeeded the tenancy at Lower Park from Thomas, who had no sons to follow him. Sonny and Bessie had two children, John Philip (the present owner) and Judith Isabel. Sonny carried on the twin occupations of dairy farmer and cattle dealer. He sold the milk rounds in 1946 sending the milk to the Milk Marketing Board. Dairy cattle sold to local dairy farmers were sourced from the Yorkshire Dales, South West Scotland and occasionally from North and South Wales depending on supply and demand. Sonny and Bessie both passed away in 1991.

Philip married Anne McNeil in 1975 and after living in Berry Brow for three years moved back to Castle House Farm in 1978. Anne's family originated from the Isle of Barra, traditional seat of Clan MacNeil. They have three children, Jennie Elizabeth, James Benjamin, Robert William and seven grandchildren. Philip became joint tenant of the farm in 1967 and built the dairy herd up to a total of 100 cows plus rearing dairy replacements.

1997 marked the start of a major depression in British agriculture, after a family meeting it was decided that we could see no future for dairy farming and it would be more prudent to sell while values were still relatively high than to be forced to sell at a later date. The live and dead stock were sold by public auction on 27 September 1997.

Negotiations had already been started with the estate to buy the property during the summer of 1997 and these were brought to a successful completion on 29 March 1999, when the estate agreed to sell Castle House Farm and about 16 acres of land in return for relinquishing the remainder of the land for distribution among the neighbouring tenants of the estate. After a period of research to find a new use for the buildings John R Bradley Ltd of Horbury was asked to draw up plans for converting the stone buildings to holiday cottages. K J Brown was appointed as builder and project manager and after receiving planning permission, building work started on 29 September 2001. From the outset it was decided to use only good quality materials and furnishings not only to reflect our own tastes and preferences but also to maintain the standard of excellence that Huddersfield has always been famous for. All visitors to the cottages have appreciated the fine craftsmanship of the traditional local tradesmen involved with the conversions. Stable cottage opened on 5 October 2002 followed by Mistal on 5 November and Laithe on 31 January 2003.

The cottages are now owned and operated by Castle House Properties Limited, the company of Philip and Anne's daughter, Jennie.

We hope that you have enjoyed reading this history of Castle House Farm and the people who have lived here. We hope that you will visit us soon and come to appreciate this special place as much as we do and our many guests from all parts of the world have and still continue to do so.

To stay in our lovely holiday cottages in Huddersfield contact us now on 07917 753296 or check availability on our main pages here.

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