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Heptonstall is a small village and civil parish within the Calderdalemarker borough of West Yorkshire, Englandmarker. The population of Heptonstall, including the hamlets of Colden and Slack, is 1,448. The town of Hebden Bridgemarker lies directly to the southeast. Although Heptonstall comes under Hebden Bridge as a post town, it is not within the Hebden Roydmarker town boundaries.


Historically a centre for hand-loom weaving, it was also the site of a battle in 1643 during the early part of the English Civil War. The foundation stone of its octagonal Methodist chapel, the oldest still in continued use, was laid following the visit of John Wesley in 1764.

Heptonstall cottages and terraced houses were characterised by their large first floor windows to maximise the light for weaving.

The older churchyard claims "King" David Hartley amongst notable graves there. Hartley was founder of the Cragg Coiners and lived as a rogue in the Calderdale area until he was hanged at Tyburn near Yorkmarker in 1774.

The American poet Sylvia Plath, who was married to Ted Hughes from nearby Mytholmroydmarker, is buried in the new St. Thomas a' Beckett's churchyard. Plath's headstone is regularly vandalised by removing Hughes's surname from the memorial, because some of her fans believe he was responsible for her death. Other members of Hughes's family are buried in this graveyard including his mother and father and his uncle, Richard Arthur Uttley. Uttley was known by the local 'by-name' of Dick Straightup and Hughes composed a poem about him of that title which appears in the collection Lupercal.

Another poet buried here is the American expatriate Asa Benveniste, also notable as the founding publisher of the Trigram Press.

The village is a popular day trip destination for tourists and walkers, especially in the warmer summer months, although there are few facilities other than two pubs "The Cross" and "The White Lion" and a small Post Office (the original Post Office, on Smithwell Lane, is now a residential property) to cater for this regular influx of seasonal visitors.

The village's oldest house is Stag Cottage, owned by the local Civic Trust but not open to the public. At the back of the cottage, on the level of the public car park, is the doorway to the "dungeon", once used as a lock-up. Nearby there is the Pinfold, built to hold livestock but now popular as a picnic area.

In the mid 1980s the paved road through Heptonstall was torn up, revealing the original stone setts. Although the plan was to remove these, protests by some concerned villagers convinced the council to restore them instead. At the same time the existing concrete street lights were replaced with a quainter alternative which resemble cast-iron gas lamps from the late 19th century. This was not only a nod towards tourism but it also acted as a traffic calming measure.

Local Attractions

In Heptonstall, there is a local park where many children take part in sport - and a playground for the younger children. Many walking routes are available to use around Heptonstall along with popular biking routes.

A small local history museum [23466]is based in what was once the village grammar school.

Adjacent to Heptonstall lies the National Trust woodlands Hardcastle Crags [23467]where there are miles of walks and a restored 19th century mill. One half mile out of the village is Lumb Bank, the first of the Arvon Foundation's residential centres for writers [23468].

Each year on Good Friday there are performances of the Heptonstall version of the traditional Pace Egg play. These are held in Weavers' Square next to the old graveyard.

History of Heptonstall Church

Heptonstall old church from the porch of the new church
Heptonstall's original church was named after St Thomas a Becket, founded circa 1260 and was altered and added to over several centuries. It was damaged by a gale in 1847 (and is now only a shell), so a new church St Thomas the Apostlemarker, was built in the same churchyard. This suffered a lighting strike in 1875.

The old church ruin is now carefully maintained and occasionally open air services are conducted there. It featured as a location in the 1993 BBC television drama series, Mr. Wroe's Virgins, which was directed by Danny Boyle.

See also


  1. Office for National Statistics : Census 2001 : Parish Headcounts : Calderdale Retrieved 2009-09-02
  2. BBC Bradford and West Yorkshire Heptonstall - a well-kept secret1
  3. Reader's Digest (1998) Land of Moors and Dales Reader's Digest Association Ltd
  4. Lucy Caffyn (Oct., 1983) World Archaeology, Vol. 15, No. 2, p 174 "Housing in an Industrial Landscape: A Study of Workers' Housing in West Yorkshire"

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