More about Upper Hopton
Upper Hopton is easily identified by the old timbered Hopton Hall, the adjacent eye catching church and the attractive community centre. The original hall is believed to have been built before the Norman Conquest and was the manorial seat of Alric; subsequently the hall and lands were given by William the Conqueror to his Tenant-in-Chief, Ilbert de Lacy. In the 15th or 16th centuries it was home to the Mirfield family before being rebuilt by Richard Thorpe in 1619 in an H shape surrounded by a moat.
The pretty church of St John the Evangelist stands close to the top of the hill on which the village is built and next to Hopton Hall. In 1840 the Rev Maude created the Ecclesiastical District of Upper Hopton and it became a parish in 1860 with St John’s Church at its heart. The church was built on land donated by James Micklethwaite of Hopton Hall who laid the foundation stone in 1844. The church’s lych gate was built in 1949 as a memorial to those men from Upper Hopton who lost their lives in World War Two.
Croft House itself dates from c. 1700 and is believed to have been the coach house for Hopton Hall. It was bequeathed, with the adjoining cottage, to the people of the village by Mr Charles Ernest Sutcliffe in 1948. It consisted of one small room (now the entrance) and a larger one (about half the size of the present main room). At one time the entrance to Croft House was used as a library, run by Mrs Talbot and Mrs Myers, the vicar’s wife. Croft House serves the church and community of Upper Hopton as a centre for many activities. The Upper Hopton Community Association was formed in 1980 and raised money to extend and modernise the rooms as we see them today.
Now there are 440 properties with a wide variety of housing ranging from the Medieval Hall to back to back terraces (double six and blank seven). There are three post war council estates, some of the houses have been privately purchased. The largest development of land occurred in the early seventies when the estate of detached houses immediately below the church was built and since then there have been other individual houses built.
Although our village school, which was a church school, has now closed there are a number of children and young people who live in our village. In common with many villages we no longer have a school, doctors, shops or post office but we can claim a very active Cricket Club, a Club (formerly Working Men’s), a well used recreation and children’s playground and more importantly, a blossoming community spirit which is reflected in well attended monthly Community Association and `In Bloom’ meetings and, of course, the various fund raising events.
The school opened in 1865. It was built in the approximate shape of a cross, with the Hall in the centre, the schoolhouse to the south and a class area to the north. It is a typical Victorian school, being built of stone and church-like in appearance with high windows to stop the children looking out. A very large fireplace heated the school until the coke boiler was installed and, at some point, electric lighting. There was no road in front of the school, just a field. A narrow muddy track ran round the back by the Fold.
The numbers of early scholars fluctuated between 23 and 47. The school depended on donations from interested people and a small weekly fee paid by the children, called ‘school pence’.
Children were tested each year by the Inspector. The teachers were paid on a commission basis and the government would provide a grant according to the results. The master was assisted daily by ladies, who taught children to sew and knit.
The school closed fairly frequently for hay-making, Mirfield Feast and epidemics of measles, scarlet fever and diphtheria.
At its height, almost 130 children to the age of 12 were being taught daily. Children would walk from Houses Hill, Kirkheaton, Upper Heaton and Lower Hopton in very difficult weather conditions in an exposed area. The Hall was divided by a screen for the older children. Small beds were provided for the younger children to take a nap.
(During the years between the wars, the school was tightly run by Mr Slaney, who was ex-army and used to march the children in and out. He kept a cane on his desk, with which he would whip legs. If there was bad behaviour, he would cancel football and sports.
Miss Upton and Mrs Wood would walk the children to Lower Hopton School for baking, washing and ironing. Mr Slaney and Miss Upton were actually married, but the children were unaware of this.)
Hopton Hall is a medieval moated site with the Hall situated within this feature. Moats were first built in middle of the 12th Century and continued until the early 16th Century which may mean that the site was the site of a manor house before Hopton Hall was built. The Hall is a late Jacobean manor house which is surrounded by a setting of mature trees. The hall is located on Hopton Hall Lane, Mirfield and is a Grade II listed building which was listed in 1966. The building is a two storey house with half timbered gable and plaster infilling. The earliest part of the building is the south west wing which is believed to have been constructed in the 15th Century. The timber framed H plan Hall was predominantly constructed in the late 16th Century and stone cladding was added to the west wing in the 18th Century. The building has substantial 19th Century additions and alterations. The two storey hall has a timber framed gable with cross wings which have close set studding and herringbone strutting above and 3 light casements. The two cross wings have jettied gables with oriel windows below them. The building also has hammer dressed stone for the walls and a stone slate roof. The cross wing is clad in stone at the sides and back which has been pierced with flat face stone mullions.
“The original Hall is thought to have been built before the Norman Conquest…In the 15th or 16th Centuries it was the home of the Mirfield family, before being re-built by Richard Thorpe, when it became known as the Thorpe Manor House.” (Christine Widdall 2006)
The property stands in wooded grounds and the remains of the moat are still visible. There are also mounting steps in the wall which borders the street. High stone walls surround the Hall and provide privacy from Hopton Hall Lane. The boundary walls enclose the site; the overall size of the land which is owned by the Hall has decreased in size over the centuries due to land donation to the church and to the village.
Hopton Hall is a moated, timber framed, Grade 11 listed building. In 2002 the owners were presented with a blue plaque which states that “The original Hall may have been built pre-Norman Conquest and it thought to have been the seat of Alric, Lord of the Manor. Shown in the Domesday Book, William the Conqueror gave the Hall to Ilbert de Lacy (his Tenant in Chief).
In the 15th/16th century it is thought to have been the manor house of the Mirfield Family.
In the 16th century it became the Thorpe Manor House and was reconstructed by Richard Thorpe.”
After ten years, the restoration work to bring the Hall back to its former glory is nearly complete, so that hopefully it will stand for another 500 years.