Wood Lane Hall, Sowerby

Wood Lane Hall stands in New Road, Sowerby

The Wood family held land here in the 15th century.

The F-plan house was bought by Richard Dearden.

It was rebuilt and cased in stone by his son, John, in 1649. It is dated 1649 IDED for Elizabeth and John Dearden.

There is a sundial dated 1651.

Subsequent owners and tenants have included

This is a good example of a Halifax House with a Rose Window over the porch, and with many finials and gargoyles.

The floor of the room with the Rose Window is made from a tree felled in the grounds of the house.

The house incorporates some features of neighbouring Halifax houses:

It is one of the last remaining two-storey open-hall houses.

It is said that there is a passage from the house to St Peter's Church, although recent searches have failed to find this.

The hall was divided into 3 dwellings – probably before World War I.

One of the bedrooms – Bedroom #6 – was fitted out to resemble a ship's cabin with material salvaged from the Pacific Steam Navigation Line by a member of the Sugden family who served on board ship and enjoyed cargo ship cruising. There is a ship's bell with instructions

One ring for steward, two for stewardess

The room has a life jacket and other cruising memorabilia and has been kept as a 1920s / 1930s ship's cabin.

Question: Can anyone tell me anything about the identity of the sea-faring occupier?


In 1949, when the house was occupied by Miss Marjorie Sugden and her 2 sisters, thieves broke in and stole and quantity of silver and other goods valued at over £3,000. 18 months later, a man was arrested and 3 candlesticks, identified as part of the haul from the Hall, were found in his bag. During the trial, the silverware disappeared from the police headquarters in Halifax and was never found.

There is a wealth of oak panelling, rising to shoulder height with a carved frieze.

The hall ceiling has a central panel of decorative plasterwork.

The rooms overlooking the valley were given paired sash windows in Georgian times.

Others have more utilitarian plate glass, but one with diamond panes looks to be 17th century.

Though the main front suggests a typical H-plan, Wood Lane Hall is unusually deep.

The Great Hall is square and behind it is a full line of rooms facing west, including the old kitchen with a huge hearth, and a modern kitchen with an Aga.

Above are five big bedrooms.

The elegant Georgian-style stair is probably a Sugden introduction, as the cantilevered treads are concrete.

The yeoman clothiers who placed the date of 1649 over the front door of Wood Lane Hall would find the house wonderfully unchanged.

John and Elizabeth Dearden, the builders, followed the new fashion for symmetry, but they also wanted a traditional great hall and an off-centre porch with a robust wheel window above.

They paid the mason for spiky finials on the battlements, carved faces on the gutter spouts and emblematic stops over the windows.

Wood Lane Hall is secluded and remote.

The house is built of large blocks of squared stone so crisply cut that it would be easy to count them.

The builders knew how to stay warm, for all the main rooms have handsome stone fireplaces.

The grandest, in the Great Hall, is tall enough to stand in and is flanked by Ionic columns topped by rich Jacobean carving

In 2007, Richard Hoyle applied for planning permission for

conversion and extension of outbuildings and garage [at the Hall] to form a holiday let

The building was in progress in January 2011

This is discussed in the books Ancient Halls in & about Halifax, Buildings in the Town & Parish of Halifax and The Old Halls & Manor Houses of Yorkshire

© Malcolm Bull 2022
Revised 15:27 / 2nd June 2022 / 9325

Page Ref: MMW155

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