General Notes on Heptonstall

Heptonstall is a hilltop village about 8 miles west of Halifax, at a height of 480 ft above sea-level, on a plateau between Hebden Water and Colden Clough.

The name is recorded as Heptone in Domesday Book, Heptonstall [1253], Hebtonstall [1361], Hemsall [1695], and Hepenstall [1798].

The name Heptonstall has been said to mean hill-top military station but, more likely – using the elements hep and tunstall – it may mean wild-rose farmstead, farmstead by the Hebden Water, or Hebden stable.

Pronunciation: The name is pronounced as it reads, with the stress on the first syllable. The second syllable uses the neutral schwa vowel: hep-tən-stall

The road through Heptonstall – the Buttress – was an important 17th century packhorse route from Halifax to Colne and Burnley, Lancashire.

The Cloth Hall was built between 1545-1548.

In the 7th century, Paulinus preached a sermon here in an effort to persuade king Edwin to accept Christianity.

In the 12th century, the Halifax district became too large for the single parish church at Halifax, and two additional churches were established at Elland and Heptonstall.

The 13th century Parish Church of St Thomas à Becket, was abandoned after damage caused by a storm in 1847, and a new Parish Church of St Thomas the Apostle was built nearby in 1850-1854 – the township thereby having two churches within the one churchyard.

In 1631, there was an outbreak of the plague in the town, and the population decimated when over 100 people – including the vicar – died.

In July 1642, the will of the Rev Thomas Greenwood endowed Heptonstall Grammar School with lands and tenements, then of the annual value of £20. This is now Heptonstall Museum.

During the Civil War, in 1643, Heptonstall was a Roundhead garrison under Colonel Robert Bradshaw. In the Battle of Heptonstall, part of the town was burned to the ground.

The graves of David Hartley – the Cragg Vale coiner – the Gibson family, and Sylvia Plath, the American poet, are to be found in the village.

The Octagonal Methodist Chapel, designed by John Wesley and built in 1764 and rebuilt in 1802, is the oldest surviving chapel still in use (a claim contested by a similar chapel at Yarm), and Rudyard Kipling's grandfather was a minister at the chapel before going out to India.

On 4th October 1854, the village was lit by gas for the first time.

In July 1933, Heptonstall abandoned the village pump in favour of the new public water supply.

Hebden Water forms much of the boundary between the townships of Heptonstall and Wadsworth.

The place is mentioned in the Weavers' Rhyme

The last handloom weaver in the village lived on Silver Street and died in 1902

See Parish statistics

© Malcolm Bull 2022
Revised 13:16 / 21st November 2022 / 16898

Page Ref: KK_162

search tips advanced search
site search by freefind