The Walker estate had been built up over a period of over a hundred years. The expectation of landowners was to increase the estate as suitable land became available and write wills in such a way that these estates were preserved and not split.
When Elizabeth and Ann inherited, the estate was very large including property in our immediate area but also in the Shibden Valley, parts of Northowram, the centre of Halifax, Greetland, Stainland, Golcar, Lindley, Birchencliffe and Honley!
Locally, the majority of the villages of Lightcliffe, Hipperholme, Hove Edge and parts of Norwood Green totalling around 700 acres. But it may have been a bit less than this, as explained below.
Strangely if Ann had looked east from Cliffe Hill in 1830 there was land that neither she nor her sister owned between the house and Bailiff Bridge. Looking north there was land between the house and Wakefield Road belonging to Joseph Armitage. To the south, between the house and Laverock Hall in Hove Edge, lay Smith House and Hoyle House Farm. Only looking to the west, Crow Nest Mansion, would she have seen the family’s land.
This probably explains why, when these properties became available, Ann bought them.
A memorial document of 29th October 1836 between Sir Joseph Radcliffe and Dame Jacobina Octavia Radcliffe of Rudding Park, Harrogate and Ann Walker of Cliffe Hill, ‘presently living at Shibden Hall’ details an agreement on the transfer of property and land. It was witnessed by Anne Lister and a Shepley Watson. The plots are described by field name, farm homestead name and, occasionally, by the occupant at the time. There are no references to a plan and the Archives have not got one. However, Anne Lister records in her diary that Samuel Washington gave the plans to Ann at Cliff Hill at the end of November.
Ann’s nephew and heir, Evan Charles Sutherland Walker, put his lands in Lightcliffe up for sale in 1867. By reference to the auction plan and the catalogue, the plots can be reasonably safely identified. It does seem that some named plots must include smaller contiguous plots as the areas stated in this deed tend to be larger than the same named plot on the sale document. It makes sense as it is a large block being sold rather than a bit here and a bit there. In the 1850 O.S. map the land is divided into a few large plots comparable with the deeds. Local knowledge must have played a big part in the agreement.
My original thought had been that Ann was buying what is now the Stoney Lane estate in Lightcliffe. The purchase appears to have been more extensive taking in almost everything from Stoney Lane down to the Bradford Road and slightly beyond.
Examples include Little Smith House in the occupation of Jonas Brook (Samuel Washington collected £42 per annum rent from him); the homestead, a croft, Upper Ing, Two Days Work, Four Days Work, Lower Ing and Workhouse and leading down to Bradford Road (both sides) including Brookroyd. [for locals, this is where B&M retail park is. You can see a path by McDonald’s leading up towards Smith House Lane.] There is a reference to Brookroyd in the deeds suggesting provenance of this land came through Samuel Sunderland (and Thomas Sugden) in 1657.
Next mentioned is Lower Crow Nest Farm in the occupation of John Hirst including the homestead, fields such as Lower Spring Well, Low Wheatfield, Joan Ing, Middle Pasture, Barran Haugh, Ing and Back Laith Field. The document does caution that names of fields do change or are known locally by different names. Lower Crow Nest Farm was demolished in 1958 and stood on Smith House Lane and a road remembering it is opposite.
Then there are farms for sale which came as a surprise as I had thought that they were in the original estate inherited by Ann. The first is Mann’s Farm, occupied by Jane Atkinson, the homestead, New Field, Dick (Dirk) Royd, Long Greave and garden, Six Days Work and others. Cottages to the south of Wakefield Road were included, some of which have survived.
Townend Farm was in the occupation of James Sharp and his under-tenants. It consisted of the homestead and plots called Upper & Lower Jesper Hill, Will Close, Little and Far Croft, Engine Holme and others. This farm was on the north of Wakefield Road with Till Carr Lane to the west and Holme House to the east.
This map shows the area covered by the 1836 agreement.
Mann’s and Townend Farms are indicated in red.
If you travel from Bailiff Bridge towards Brighouse from the cross roads to McDonalds, the land on your left up to Clifton Beck and on your right up to Stoney Lane is the land included in this purchase. It totals over 100 acres which closely matches lot numbers 133 to 192 in the 1867 Crow Nest sale.
In 1837, Ann bought a cottage and gardens abutting her land in Lightcliffe from Thomas and Jane Day for £100, she allowed them to live there free of charge “during the course of their natural lives”. She paid them £5 a quarter until it was paid for in 1845. It was near to the Sun Inn probably close to Mrs B’s sandwich shop.
Ann bought Lee Lane, a house in the middle of her Shibden properties. Anne Lister noted this transaction in her diaries for May 1838. The seller was Anne’s sister Marion and the price £600.
Then in 1841 Ann bought Green House, some adjoining land with small buildings and two pieces of land which joined directly to the north of Cliffe Hill house. The seller was Joseph Armitage and the price £3,150. Interestingly, within the terms of the agreement, Joseph was allowed to live there as a tenant (he had recently sold the larger property of Holme House). Most pieces of land to the north of Cliffe Hill through to Norwood Green now belonged to the Walkers.
Finally, she bought, in 1843, Smith House and Hoyle House for £3,750 from Charles Horncastle. Though the decision to buy made eminent sense in terms of consolidation of the estate, there were significant legal problems before the purchase was completed. Whether this was due to Ann’s situation at the time is impossible to say. Almost certainly the complications would have been an added pressure on Ann and a significant responsibility for her land agent Samuel Washington. There was a delay between the agreement to buy and when the purchase was completed in July 1844 which cost an additional £395 6s 10p in interest. William Towne Radcliffe, a lunatic, was resident in Smith House at the time of the sale (it had belonged to his parents before Horncastle inherited). He continued to live there until his death in 1862.
As this article shows, in addition to the land and property that Ann had inherited when her brother died, she continued the family tradition of consolidating the estate.
A more extensive article is available on St Matthew’s Churchyard website in the People of Interest section. This link may get you to it. https://www.lightcliffechurchyard.org.uk/attachments/article/137/Ann%20Walker%E2%80%99s%20acquisitions%20and%20investments.%201825%20to%201847%20updated%20Nov%202023.pdf
This article also explains how she bought additional cottages in Hatter’s Fold in central Halifax.
Ian Philp, January 2024.
Thanks to Dorothy Barker for her additional information, Dave Lister, Calderdale Companion and West Yorkshire Archive for images and John Patchett for his extensive knowledge of central Halifax in the 1820s & 1930s.