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Kirklees Priory

© H. P. Kendall

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Kirklees Priory

Photograph of the Gatehouse at Kirklees Priory, Clifton, near Brighouse, West Yorkshire.

Author: H. P. Kendall
Date: not dated
Location: Clifton
Format: Postcard - Mono
Document ID: 100236
Library ID: 34560946

Originally built as a Cistercian Priory by Reyner le Flemyng during the reign of King Henry II [1155], it became a nunnery before dissolution in 1539. With this dissolution the last seven nuns were driven out, three of whom sought refuge at the Three Nuns Inn, named after Cecilia Topclife, Joan Leverthorpe, and Katherine Grace. The gatehouse is all that remains of the original priory.

The place is connected with the legend of Robin Hood, mediaeval stories saying he came seeking medical help from his cousin, the prioress, after being wounded. After bleeding him, he realised he'd been betrayed. He fired an arrow from his deathbed and asked to be buried wherever it landed. To this day, a monument exists in the woods nearer the Calder river, claiming to be Robin Hood's Grave.

The photographer, Hugh Percy Kendall, was a founder member of the Halifax Antiquarian Society in 1900 and a frequent contributor to their transactions. He was also a former president of the Halifax Photographic Society. He died in 1937 at the age of 62.

Gatehouse still standing 2003. It is a Grade II* Listed Building. The following is from Calderdale Council's Listed Buildings Descriptions:

Gatehouse to Kirklees Priory (now gone). Early C16 timber-framed single cell partially encased in large dressed stone with added cell late C16 or early C17, stone slate roof. Timbered gatehouse was probably open to ground floor forming entry, this has been filled in with large dressed stone blocks bearing marks possibly plundered from priory. East gable is timbered only from 1st floor which has heavily jowled posts carrying projecting wall plate with decorative rosette to stop supported on decorated braces. The wall plates carry cambered tie beam which is carved with a flowing vine scroll interspersed with hunting dogs to the upper and vertically carved stag to lower part of the scroll. The tie beam supports a king post truss with 4 'V' struts pegged to the principal rafters which carry projecting trenched purlins. Below the tie beam is 4-light oriel window with wooden ovolo moulded mullions glazed with 36 square leaded lights. These are set in a heavy crude sill with mortice to right hand end. This may have been overlaid with decorated rail now perished. The oriel is supported on 5 coved uprights pegged to close studs which have bulbous crocket. To either side set back from window and gable are decorated close studded walls with offset diagonal studs. Apex is caped by wooden finial and gable is protected by oversailing slates. The return wall is faced in ashlar to the eaves at the angle and has evidence of first floor doorway (now solid with hammer-dressed stone) to left of which the wall is faced in hammer-dressed stone and has a solid stair of 15 risers. Level with landing is extruded lateral stack in ashlar. Curious weathered course 2 courses higher than eaves. Next this is only entry to 1st floor. Doorway has square-headed lintel level with eaves and chamfered opposite jambs. West gable has stone courses running through to outside of staircase but with straight break higher up. Ground floor is again in large dressed stone and has doorway (the only entry to ground floor) with square lintel notched at the top corners, composite jambs and chamfered surround. Single light window has termination of string course with straight return from adjacent stone block. 1st floor of West gable is timber-framed forming 3 vertical divisions. The topmost formed by king post truss with 4 'V' struts, the king post having heavily jowled head with exposed ridge tree set square, oversailing slates to gable. Below the tie beam, which has hollow chamfer to its soffit, is long wooden mullioned window of full width. 7 lights with ovolo moulded mullions and 21 small square leaded lights. One piece undecorated sill. Under and set back is close studded wall with decorative 'V' studs forming alternate pattern of upright and inverted 'V's. Attached to left hand side is stone extension which breaks forward having corner windows with double chamfered mullions of 2 lights to both floors. Over ground floor window is a string course which continues round building. Over first floor window is hoodmould. Tall lateral stack has weathered course and 2 diamond set flues. South front of singe cell. Coped gables with kneelers. Double chamfered mullioned windows with king mullion of 6 lights to ground floor and 12 lights with transom to 1st floor with 3-light attic window with hoodmould. Another 2-storey cell breaks forward from return wall of similar character to a 2-storey porch but without doorway. This has a blocked window to ground floor in the south return wall with a 4-light double chamfered mullioned window to first floor, with same to west gabled front which is coped with kneelers. Interior: Ground floor has large fireplace with square lintel to south facing room. 1st floor of timber portion of 2 bays formed by central king post truss resting on posts with slightly arched braces. South facing room has decorative plasterwork bosses of alternate fleur-de-lys and flowers in vase. Doorways to closets have low Tudor arch lintels with hollow spandrels and chamfered surround. Roof renewed late C19. G. Hepworth, Brighouse its Scenery and Antiquities (Halifax 1885) p.10. L Ambler, The Old Halls and Manor Houses of Yorkshire, (London 1913), p.58. N Pevsner, Yorkshire West Riding, (London 1967) p.291.

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