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WAKEFIELD: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1835.

"WAKEFIELD, a parish in the lower division of the wapentake of AGBRIGG, West riding of the county of YORK, comprising the market-town of Wakefield, the chapelries of Horbury and Stanley, and the townships of Alverthorpe with Thornes, and Wrenthorpe, and containing 22,307 inhabitants, of which number, 10,764 are in the town of Wakefield, 32 miles W.S.W. from York, and 178 N.N.W. from London. The discovery of many coins and other relics of the Romans, in the neighbourhood, indicates its existence in the time of that people. In the reign of Edward the Confessor, it formed part of the royal demesne, and was subsequently transferred to the Conqueror: in Domesday-book it is denominated Wachefeld. This was the scene of the celebrated battle, at the close of the year 1459., between Richard, Duke of York, and Margaret of Anjou, queen of Henry VI., in which the former lost his life; and the spot of ground where he was-buried, a short distance from the town, is still parted off from the adjoining field; his gold ring was found here some years ago. Wakefield again suffered from the calamities of the civil war between Charles I. and the parliament, falling, at different periods, into the hands of each party, according to the various chances of war. The manor, or lordship, which is one of the largest in the kingdom, extending, from east to west, a distance of more than thirty miles, and now comprising a popula- tion of upwards of one hundred and twenty thousand, was granted by Henry I., about the year 1107, to William, Earl of Warren, in whose family it continued until the reign of Edward III., when, by default of heirs, it lapsed to the crown, and. so remained until granted, by Charles I., to Henry, Earl of Holland; and, after passing, through several other families, it was, in 1700, purchased by the Duke of Leeds, to whose descendant, the present duke, it still belongs. The town is principally situated on the side of an eminence sloping to the river Calder, in the midst of a fertile and picturesque country, and consists of spacious and regular streets, with many well-built and handsome brick houses; it is paved and flagged, lighted with gas, and well supplied with water; very great improvements have been made, of late years more especially, on its northern side, where some handsome rows of houses have been erected, which, with a few detached mansions, standing amidst shrubberies and pleasure grounds, form a great ornament to this part of the town, which is called St. John's. A handsome building, situated in Wood-street, near the Court-house, has been erected by subscription, and contains a library and newsroom, the upper part being used for concerts, assemblies, and other public amusements. A Literary and Philosophical Society, established in 1827, meets every fortnight at the Court-house; and there is also a Phrenological Society. A masonic lodge is held here, of which the Earl of Mexborough is Provincial Grand Master. The theatre, in Westgate, was erected by the late celebrated Tate Wilkinson, Esq., and is usually opened, in August, by the York company. The river, which was made navigable in 1698, is crossed by a handsome stone bridge of nine arches, built in the reign of Edward III., on the eastern side of which is a chapel, supposed to have been founded by that monarch, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and endowed with £10 per annum, for two chaplains to perform divine service. The present structure was, however, rebuilt by Edward IV., in memory of his father, the Duke of York, and his followers who fell with him at the battle of Wakefield; it is about ten yards in length and six in width, and is in the later style of English architecture; the eastern window, overhanging the river, is ornamented with rich and delicate tracery, and the western front has much architectural decoration; it is divided by buttresses into compartments, with lofty pedestals, and pointed arches in relief, the spandrils being covered with sculptured ornaments; over these is an entablature, with five shorter compartments, in relief, representing scriptural subjects, the whole surmounted by battlements; the revenue ceased at the dissolution of monastic establishments, and the chapel has been long desecrated, being now used as a counting-house by a corn-factor. The manufacture of woollen cloth and worsted yarn was formerly carried on to a great extent, insomuch that Leland, in speaking of the town, says, " it standeth now al by clothying;" but these branches of trade have greatly declined, and corn and wool are now the staple commodities. The Tammy Hall, a building about seventy yards long, and ten broad, consisting of two stories, which was erected by subscription many years since, for the sale of the lighter woollen stuffs, has been converted into a manufactory for stuff pieces by the use of power-looms, the shares of the original proprietors having been bought up. Coal is also procured in great abundance in the surrounding country, and is brought to the town by railways from the collieries, and conveyed in barges down the Calder and up the Ouse to York, or by the Humber to Hull. The trade in corn has greatly increased of late years, and warehouses for storing it have been built on a most extensive scale; a corn exchange was erected in 1823. At the foot of the bridge is the soke mill, where persons living in the soke of Wakefield, which comprehends Stanley, Sandal, Alverthorpe, Ossett, Horbury, and Crigglestone, are obliged to have their corn ground. Much barley is also grown in the neighbourhood, and a considerable quantity is here converted into malt: great quantities of wool are sold, being brought from distant parts of the country, to be disposed of to the neighbouring manufacturers. The Aire and Calder Navigation Company have their principal establishment and wharf near the bridge, whence fly-boats leave for Huddersfield every day; and, by means of their navigation, and the Barnesley and other canals con- nected with it, a direct-line of communication is opened with Hull, Lincolnshire, and Lancashire, which affords great facilities to the trade of the town. The market on Friday, is well supplied with provisions: the market cross, built by subscription more than one hundred and twenty years since, is a handsome structure of the Doric order, consisting of an open colonnade supporting a dome; a spiral staircase leads to a spacious room, lighted by a lantern at the top, in which business relating to the town is generally transacted: in consequence of the confined space of the market-place, the corn market has been removed to the broad street called Westgate. There is also a market for cattle and sheep every alternate Wednesday, which is attended by graziers and butchers from a very considerable distance. Fairs, chiefly for horses, horned cattle, and pedlary, are held on July 4th and 5th, and November llth and 12th. The town is under the superintendence of a chief constable, who is appointed by the inhabitants, and sworn by the steward of the lord of the manor, at a court leet held at the moot-hall, in Kirkgate. The quarter sessions for the West riding are holden in the second week in January, at the Court-house, a handsome and appropriate edifice, erected in 1806; and- a petty session for the district is held weekly, by the county magistrates, on Friday. The manor court, for petty causes and the recovery of debts under £5, is held by the steward, once in three weeks, at the moot-hall. The register-office, established in 1704, and the office of clerk of the peace for the West riding, are both in this town. The house of correction for the West riding is an extensive pile of building, near the bottom of Westgate, constructed on the improved plan of county prisons, comprising a tread-mill for grinding corn, separate yards, a chapel, a school for juvenile offenders, day-rooms, and three hundred and seven separate sleeping cells; the prisoners are employed in weaving coarse cloth, calico, and linsey. The living is a vicarage, in the archdeaconry and diocese of York, rated in the king's books at £29. 19.2., and in the patronage of the Crown. The church, dedicated to All Saints, is a spacious and handsome edifice, of English architecture, erected in the reign of Henry III., but, from the many repairs and improvements it has undergone, little of the original style remains. It consists of a nave, separated from the aisles by two rows of clustered columns supporting pointed arches, and from the chancel by a lofty screen: the pulpit and reading-desk are of carved oak; and the font, which bears the date 1611, and the initials of Charles II., was replaced in its present situation, at the west end of the nave (from which it had been removed), in 1821, with the addition of a beautifully wrought canopy. The square tower is adorned with battlements and pinnacles, and surmounted by an octagonal spire, the height of both being about two hundred and thirtyseven feet, exceeding that of any other in the county: in 1715, the vane and about one-third of the spire were blown down, and only partially rebuilt. In 1802, its dilapidated condition exciting alarm as to its safety, it was secured by iron bands; and, in 1823, a portion of it was taken down and rebuilt, so that it is now perfectly secure. There are two lectureships; that in the afternoon, founded in 1652, under the will of Lady Camden, with an income of £ 100 per aniiwm, is in the gift of the Master and Wardens of the Mer- cers' Company; and that in the evening, established in 1801, is supported by voluntary subscriptions, and in the patronage of seven trustees, of whom the vicar is one. The church dedicated to St. John, standing in that part of the town called St. John's, was commenced in 1792, and completed in 1795, at an expense of about £10,000; the site, and £1000 for the support of the officiating minister, were bequeathed by Mrs. Newstead. It was made parochial, jointly with the church of All Saints, by an act obtained in 1815 -. the right of presentation belongs to the vicar of All Saints', who has also the patronage of the chapelries of Alverthorpe, Horbury, and Stanley. There are two places of worship each for Independents and Wesleyan Methodists; and the Society of Friends, Primitive Methodists, Unitarians, and Roman Catholics, have each one. The free grammar school was founded, in 1592, by Queen Elizabeth, and is endowed with property producing rather more than £300 per annum; the number of scholars, who receive a classical education, is about forty. It is under the government of fourteen trustees, who are a corporate body, and appoint the two masters; the first with a salary of £ 160, and the other with one of £80, per annum, who teach the classics. There is also a writing school, where boys are instructed in writing and arithmetic, on paying a certain sum quarterly to the master. The children of all residents, both in the town and parish, are admissible, and are eligible to the several exhibitions from this school to the Universities; two of which, founded by Thomas Cave, are to Clare Hall, Cambridge; one, founded by Lady Elizabeth Hastings, to Queen's College, Oxford; and three, founded by John Storie, to either of the Universities, each of the value of about £50 per annum. Of the candidates, preference is given, first, to the natives, of the town; next, to those born in the parish; and, in failure of these, to residents; but each candidate must have been at the school for three years: the school-room is a commodious building, with a good library attached to it. Several eminent persons have been educated here, amongst whom are Richard Bentley, D.D., who was born in the neighbourhood; Dr. John Potter, Archbishop of Canterbury, a distinguished author, born here in 1674; Dr. John Radcliffe, the munificent benefactor to the University of Oxford, and founder of the Radcliffe library, who was also a native of the town. The Green-coat charity school was founded, about 1707, by the trustees of the poor, from the char,ity estates; and the present income, amounting to upwards of £600 per annum5 arises from the ground on which the fortnight cattle market is held, together with various donations, the principal of which is a grant by John Storie, in 1674, of certain lands, now producing more than £500 per annum; in this school about seventy-five boys and fifty girls are clothed and instructed. The almshouses, in Almshouse-lane, founded by Cotton Home, in 1646, and endowed with lands producing nearly £300 per annum, are appropriated to ten poor women, who each receive five shillings a week, and some clothing, coal, and provisions. Adjoining are almshouses endowed by William Home, in which ten poor men are lodged, and have a weekly allowance, with some clothing and provisions: there are also aimshouses at Brooksbank, founded by Leonard Bate, for five poor widows of this parish, who have a weekly allowance. The management of all these establishments is vested in the governors of the grammar school, who have also the distribution of a bequest made, in 1722, by John Bromley, of property now producing upwards of £700 per annum, which is applied to the clothing and apprenticing of poor boys, and the relief of poor housekeepers; and of various other benefactions and bequests for the relief of the poor, producing upwards of £800 per annum. There are also a Lancasterian and two National schools for children of both sexes, and a school of industry, all supported by voluntary contributions, and numerously attended. The West riding pauper lunatic asylum, about a mile north-east of the town, was erected about 1817, and is calculated to contain two hundred and fifty patients; it is a handsome and commodious edifice, and is conducted in a manner admirably adapted both for the bodily comfort and mental relief of its inmates: the establishment is supported by a county rate, but the patients are maintained by the townships from which they are sent. A dispensary and fever ward were established a few years ago, and are supported by voluntary contributions. A mineral spring at Stanley, and another at Horbury, each within about two miles of the town, possess medicinal qualities somewhat similar to those of the waters at Harrogate, or Cheltenham. In addition to those natives of the town who are mentioned as having been educated at the grammar school, the following were also born here: Dr. Thomas Zouch, a learned divine; Joseph Bingham, M.A., author of " Origines Ecclesiastics;" and Dr. John Burton, author of the "Monasticon Eboracense.""


"ALVERTHORPE, a chapelry in the parish of WAKEFIELD, lower division of the wapentake of AGBRIGG, West riding of the county of YORK, If mile W.N.W. from Wakefield, containing, with the township of Thornes, 4448 inhabitants. A new chapel, in the later style of English architecture, containing one thousand five hundred and ninety sittings, of which eight hundred and thirty-two are free, was completed in 1825, at the expense of £7828, defrayed by a grant from the parliamentary commissioners. Here are three almshouses."


"HORBURY, a chapelry in the parish of WAKEFIELD, lower division of the wapentake of AGBRIGG, West riding of the county of YORK, 3 miles W.S.W. from Wakefield, containing 2475 inhabitants. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the archdeaconry and diocese of York, endowed with £15 per annum and £200 private benefaction, and £400 royal bounty; and in the patronage of the Vicar of Wakefield. The church, dedicated to St. Peter, is a handsome edifice, erected byMr. J. Carr, a respectable architect, at an expense of £8000, defrayed by himself: one hundred and fifty-two free sittings have recently been added, by means of a grant of £150 from the Incorporated Society for the enlargement of churches and chapels. The manufacture of cloth is considerable in this chapelry; A school for ten children has an income of £ 15. 15. per annum, appropriated from the town lands; the masterhas a residence rent-free, likewise a rent-charge of £2 the gift of -Richard Wormald in 1731."


"STANLEY, a chapelry in the parish of WAKEFIELD, lower division of the wapentake of AGBRIGG, West riding of the county of YORK, 1 mile N.N.E. from Wakefield, containing, with the township of Wrenthorp, 4630 inhabitants. A lunatic asylum for paupers has been established in this township. This was the site of a Roman station, where a vast quantity of Roman crucibles} moulds, and silver and copper coins, has been found; of the latter forty pounds weight was dug up in 1812. Many of these relics are deposited in the British museum and other similar establishments. The scene of the battle fought by Robiu Hood, Scarlet, and Little John, against the Pindar of Wakefield, is laid here, according to the ancient ballad."


"THORNES, a township in the parish of WAKEFIELD, lower division of the wapentake of AGBRIGG, West riding of the county of YORK, 1 mile S.W. from Wakefield. The population is returned with the chapelry of Alverthorpe. A grant has recently been made towards erecting a chapel, by the commissioners appointed under the late act for promoting the building of additional churches, &c., of which the Vicar of Wakefield is to be the patron."


"WRENTHORP, a township, joint with Stanley, in the parish of WAKEFIELD, lower division of the wapentake of AGBRIGG, West riding of the county of YORK, 1 mile N.N.E. from Wakefield: the population is returned with Stanley. The manufacture of woollen cloth, &c., is carried on here."

[Transcribed by Mel Lockie © from
Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of England 1835]