High Sunderland, Halifax

High Sunderland was a timber-framed house – later encased in stone – which overlooked Shibden Valley at Horley Green. A house is recorded in 1274.

The name of the area and the house may be derived from sunder and means separate land, that is, land away from the main estate. The surname Sunderland originated here.

Around 1629, a house was built for either Richard Sunderland or Abraham Sunderland.

The hall passed to Langdale Sunderland.

Subsequent owners and tenants have included

It was one of the first Halifax houses to use the newer classical columns. The façade of the house had battlements and elaborate carved figures.

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.

A room at the house was said to be haunted by the disembodied hand of

an estimable and virtuous lady

and a phantom white horse is said to roam the surrounding area.

There were numerous Latin inscriptions on the building, as discussed below

The house was divided into separate tenements and occupied until the 1940s, but, by the 1950s, it was considered derelict and unsafe.

As a consequence of local mining, the walls began to belly outwards and the building became unsafe.

The owner, Mrs Holden of Harrogate, wanted to sell it to the Brontë Society or to Halifax Corporation, but it was decided that the cost of repairs – £6,000 – was more than the value of the house.

The house was demolished in 1951.

High Sunderland Lane, Claremount still exists.

Some parts of the house and photographs taken prior to demolition can be seen at Shibden Hall.

It is one of the many contenders as the model for Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights. The exterior of both houses – as described by Lockwood in the book – was similar.

Latin inscriptions

There were numerous Latin inscriptions on the building:

See High Sunderland Farm, High Sunderland: Arms and Lower High Sunderland

© Malcolm Bull 2023
Revised 17:30 / 10th March 2023 / 8565

Page Ref: MMH178

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