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Views of a Tudor Cottage at Shibden and High Sunderland

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Views of a Tudor Cottage at Shibden and High Sunderland

Old photographs taken from "Halifax As It Was."

Author: Arthur Porritt
Date: 1973
Location: Rishworth
Format: Book Illustration
Document ID: 101248
Library ID: 34767437

"May the Almighty grant that the race of Sunderland may quietly inhabit this seat, and maintain the rights of their ancestors free from strife, until an ant drink up the waters of the sea, and a tortoise walk round the whole world." So read the inscription above the front window of one of the most impressive homesteads in the local area. Its name was High Sunderland and it stood on a plateau at Horley Green, overlooking the Shibden Valley.

In John Crabtree's "History of Halifax", the author states that the house was built by Richard Sunderland about 1587, although there are suggestions that his son Abraham was responsible for the house being constructed in 1629. There can be no doubt, however, that this gabled, timber framed house, with its ornate carvings, was a sight to behold.

The front of the property was very imposing, with its decorative mullioned windows and high gateway depicting the coats of arms of the Sunderland and Rishworth families. It is thought that the name derives from the fact that the land was sundered or divided from lands surrounding it, with the "high" referring to its elevated position.

Bronte experts have conceded that Lockwood's description of his first visit to Wuthering Heights fits that of High Sunderland. The inscriptions are fictional but the carvings are real. The interior of "Wuthering Heights" also corresponds with the house plan to a great extent.

Emily Bronte would have been familiar with High Sunderland having spent some time at Law Hill School in Southowram. It is thought she used the house as "Wuthering Heights" but located it to Top Withens on Haworth Moor.

Over the years the house was divided into separate dwellings and occupied by several different families. By the late 1940's it was reported that the building was derelict and unsafe. The owner of the building at that time, a Mrs Holden of Harrogate, offered it first to Halifax Corporation and then to the Bronte Society. However, the high cost of repair meant that both offers were turned down. High Sunderland was finally demolished in the early 1950s.

Further information on High Sunderland can be found in the Halifax Antiquarian Society Transactions for 1907 and the Calderdale Archives Department.

The Tudor Cottage which stands in the grounds of Shibden, erected in the late 19th century by John Lister. Originally the 15th century building was in Cripplegate near the Parish Church, Halifax town centre. When it was demolished in 1872 the timber was moved to Shibden and the house was re-built. It has since been demolished.

For other related pages of Arthur Porritt's 1973 "Halifax As It Was", see documents:











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