THORNHILL, a parish-town, in Agbrigg-division of Agbrigg and Morley, liberty of Pontefract; 2 miles S. of Dewsbury, 6 from Wakefield, 9½ from Huddersfield, 35 from York. Pop. 1,932, the Church is a rectory, dedicated to St. Michael, in the deanry of Pontefract, value, £40. Patron, the Hon. and Rev. J. Lumley Saville.
Thornhill stands on an eminence, on the south side of the Calder, commanding extensive views up and down the vale of that name. It is memorable for the long residence of a family distinguished in the public concerns of the County of York. In the time of Henry III. it was the seat of the knightly family of Thornhills, who intermarried with the De Fixbys and Babthorpes in the reigns of Edward I. and II. And in that of Edward III. became united with the Savilles of Dodworth, near Barnsley. The Savilles remained here till the civil wars of Charles I. when the house was besieged, (having been previously fortified by Sir William Saville, the third baronet of this family) taken, and demolished by the forces of Parliament. Of the small fragment that remains, which appears to be about the time of Henry VII. an engraving is given in Whitaker's Loidis and Elmete. On the north side of the choir in the Church is the chapel of the Savilles, which boasts of a noble collection of monuments to that ancient family; amongst them is a rare one of Oak, upon the table of which are three statues of the same material, commemorating Sir John Savile and his two wives. On the fillet is this rude inscription,
Bonys emong Stony, lyes here ful styl,
Quilst the Sawle wanders wher God wyl,
Anno Dni. MCCCCCXXIX
Sir George Saville, Bart. many years representative in Parliament for this county, was the last surviving male descendant of this ancient family. He died Jan. 9, 1784, and was buried among the ancestors, at Thornhill, having devised his estates to the second son of his sister Barbara, who married Richard Lumley Sanderson, afterwards Earl of Scarborough.
The windows in this Church were once highly ornamented with stained glass, of which there are some remains: a particular and interesting account of which, and other information respecting this place, may be seen in Whitaker's Loidis and Elmete.
Here is a free Grammar School, founded by the Rev. Charles Greenwood, M.A. Rector, in the reign a Charles I. and a free School, founded in 1812, by Mr. Richard Walker.
[Description(s) edited from various 19th century sources by Colin Hinson © 2013]
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