OTLEY, a market and parish-town, in the upper-division of Skyrack, liberty of Cawood, Wistow, and Otley; (Manor House, the residence of Matthew Wilson, Esq.) 8 miles from Harewood, 10 from Leeds, Bingley and Bradford, 12 from Keighley, and Ripley, 13 from Knaresborough, 15 from Skipton, 16 from Wetherby, 28 from York, 208 from London. Market, Friday. Fairs, first Monday after August 2, for horses and horned cattle; Friday between new and old Martinmas day for hiring servants; Fortnight Fairs on Fridays, for horned cattle and sheep. Principal Inns, White Horse, Black Horse, and New Inn. Pop. 3,065. The Church is a vicarage, dedicated to All-Saints (see Churches for photograph), in the deanry of the Ainsty, value, ~£13. 1s. 8d. p.r. !£128.
Otley is a well built town, delightfully situated on the banks of the Wharfe. It is, according to Whitaker's Loidis and Elmete, the "Othleai" of Domesday, the field of "Othe", or Otho, a personal appellation, not uncommon in England before, or after the conquest. It is one of the great Saxon Parishes, the parent of several others, which were separated in the universal spirit of church building, after the conquest. At this time it was of great extent, and contained 81 square miles, comprehending the present parish of Otley, part of Wistow, Guiseley, and a part of Ilkley, including Middleton and Stubham. It now contains, besides the parish church, six chapels. The manor of Otley was given to the See of York, by King Athelstan; and in Kirkby's Inquest, 1287, it was returned, that the Archbishop of York held in Otley, half a fee. In the Nomina Villarum, 1316, the Archbishop is also returned as lord, as his successors have been to the present day; and who have a civil, as well as spiritual jurisdiction within the place, where justice is administered by Magistrates, holding their commission under the metropolitan, for the liberty of "Cawood, Wistow, and Otley." The site of the ancient Mansion of the Archbishop of York, at the north end of the town, is still denominated the Manor House; and when the present house, which occupies the site, was erected, some ancient and strong foundations were taken up. This, with "the Gallows," in the vicinity of the town, and the peculiar jurisdiction with it, are all the relics now remaining of this ancient place, once inhabited by the metropolitans. The Kitchens of the manor House here, were built, Drake informs us, by the munificent Archbishop Bowet, who, in consequence consumed at Otley, some portion of the four score tuns of claret, with a proportionate quantity of other elements of hospitality, which he is said to have annually expended. But whether it was ever honoured by the residence of any of his successors, is uncertain.
Here is a Grammar School, founded in 1611, by Thomas Cave, who made the Feoffees a body corporate. Their seal is a Rod, on one side, with a Palm branch on the other; motto, Deum Pave, tomo cave Fear God, and mind thy book; being a pun upon the founder's name. In the Church, which is a spacious building, are several ancient monuments, especially of the families of Fairfax, Fawkes, Vavasour, Palmes, and Pulleyn. Nothing of the original Saxon church remains, excepting, perhaps, the north door, which has a circular arch. The fortnight fairs in Otley, have long been famous for fat cattle; and large quantities of corn are sold in this market weekly, and sent into the manufacturing districts, South west of Otley.
At the South east of the town, on a craggy cliff, is the hill, called "Otley Chevin," which rises high over the road to Leeds, and together with Romaldsmoor and Pool Bank, forms a mountainous range, extending to the River Wharfe.
[Description(s) edited from various 19th century sources by Colin Hinson © 2013]