Thursday, 8 October 2009

Ancient Heptonstall.

After nearly 24 hours of wind and rain this morning dawned fine and sunny. A good day for some sightseeing. We had heard about the village of Heptonstall on the hill above Hebden Bridge being a quaint original village so we thought we would pay it a visit. There is no direct public transport from Todmorden so we had to change buses at Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge. We got a big surprise when the bus to Heptonstall arrived because it was a double decker, most buses on village routes are generally small 30 seater’s to be able to negotiate the narrow lanes.

Heptonstall 002 Heptonstall Military Museum? Not really, it's the front of the local laundrette.

Travelling back along the road we had already travelled over from Todmorden, the driver went past the road to Heptonstall to a turning circle where he could turn and head back. The reason being is that the right turn is so sharp large vehicles cannot make the turn in one go as it‘s about a 160deg turn coming back on themselves. In fact the right turn has been banned completely to avoid traffic delays making all vehicles use the turning circle. The road up to Heptonstall is narrow and very steep, once you reach the village there is only inches clearance between the sides of the bus and guttering and down pipes on the houses. In the main part of the village the streets are still cobbled which only came about by resident’s complaints over the road having been tar sealed against their wishes.

Heptonstall 004 Main street Heptonstall.

There is a Heptonstall Trail through the village and an information booklet put out by the Pennine Heritage & Hebden Bridge History Society to guide you. John on Nb Epiphany kindly loaned us his copy of the guide. There is so much that I could write about this village it would take me a week so I will give you the highlights. The first thing we spotted was what appeared to be a small military museum which turned out to be the local laundrette. The owner had 3 shop dummies dressed in military uniforms plus a lot of military paraphernalia in the front of the premises with the laundrette out the back.

Heptonstall 009 Heptonstall's town water supply until early 1900's

There are 2 churches and cemeteries on the one site, one was destroyed in a storm in 1847. It was patched up until the new church was completed in 1854 and then just left to deteriorate. Remnants of the villages 4 public water pumps can still be found and at the top of the hill is the towns present water supply reservoir.

Heptonstall 012 Stoodley Pike, 120' monument to the fall of Napoleon.

The village has a history of hand loom weaving and there are still the old weavers cottages dating back to c.1800. The last hand loom weaver in the Pennines lived here and died in 1902. Another facet of the village was its 5 public houses or Inn’s, only 2 of which still survive to this day. We had lunch in the Cross Inn which has a history dating back 300 years and involved expansion into 2 adjoining cottages which lay empty for quite a while.

Heptonstall 022 Weavers cottages Heptonstall, Yorkshire. The last weaver died in 1902.

A darker side to the local history was that of David Hartley (King David) and his gang. In 1770 David was hanged for a counterfeiting conspiracy which caused the massive devaluation of currency of the realm. Apparently he and his gang had “Clipped and Stamped” coins which involved clipping little pieces off genuine coins, smelting it and then producing forged coins. His body lays in the Heptonstall church cemetery.

Heptonstall 034 Ruins of St Thomas A Becket church, Heptonstall.

Once we had walked through the village we carried on to the top of the hill (Crown Point) where the 360deg view is nothing less than stunning especially on a fine day. Across the valley could be seen the 120’ high “Stoodley Pike” which was erected in 1856 as a monument to replace a previous structure commemorating the Peace of Ghent, the fall of Paris and abdication of Napoleon. There is also the significance that the Duke of Wellington who defeated Napoleon had his regiment based at nearby Halifax (which we plan to visit tomorrow)

Heptonstall 050 Views around Heptonstall, Yorkshire from the top deck of a bus.

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