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Calverley Old Hall re-opening in sight

By Anne Akers

The metal fencing surrounding Calverley Old Hall while the renovation work has been going on for the past few years has gone. The grounds have been landscaped, the new stone sculpture is in place and vans have been spotted delivering furniture, the re-opening of the historic Grade 1* hall is in sight. At last!

While The Landmark Trust, owner of the hall, which dates back to the 12th century, hasn’t named the re-opening date, it looks like it’s nearly ready to open its doors. Local people and those who holiday in the Trust’s properties, are keen to see inside the newly-refurbished hall which for years was semi-derelict and on Heritage England’s at risk register.

Thanks to initial funding to make the roof watertight then a £1.6million grant from the Lottery Heritage Fund, the hall has been transformed into holiday rental accommodation for up to ten people, along with a community room and garden.

Work started a couple of years ago, with the Trust holding regular open days for local residents to update on progress. There were also historical re-enactments, plays, creative workshops, including spinning and weaving, craft skills, including limewashing, traditional building and fixing sash windows. Local people were also invited to help design the community garden.

A hall full of history

The hall started out as a humble timber house in the 12th century. Successive owners made it a more substantial stone building, with the large halls, medieval windows and a chapel added over the centuries. It reached its heyday in Tudor times, with rare wall-paintings uncovered during the renovations.

The glory of the hall and its owners, the Calverley family, came to an abrupt halt in 1605 when Sir Walter Calverley murdered two of his sons there. He was pressed to death. While the family continued to live there, they eventually moved to Esholt and the hall was sold and divided into workers cottages. By 1861, 11 households lived on the site, including in the chapel. Over the next century or so it was converted into a farm, then back to homes. It was hit by fire, theft and vandalism, and was eventually bought by the Landmark Trust in 1982. The trust is a charity which buys historic properties for holiday lets. 

Keep an eye on your West Leeds Dispatch for news of the opening date.

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