History – People

continued …………………Looking at the personal stories

Jennifer Kirkby and Barbara Winfield at the Wakefield Deeds Office

Field names, old land deeds, parish records and manor court rolls are one source of historic research; another is the ups and downs of family fortunes.  Both Jennifer and Barbara are experienced in family history research and this too was a rich seam for revealing the Park’s past.  A particularly interesting century was the 18th – when the agricultural revolution took off and social mobility became much more fluid.

The Manor of Guiseley and Esholt was sold to its tenants in 1719.  It then became possible for local farmers like Quaker John Blessard, Stephen and Martha Overend and socially mobile widow Susannah Walker to harness new technology such as iron-plate ploughs and try new crops such as potatoes.

As the 18th century rolled on the fields were brought and sold, some becoming part of the accumulated ‘estates’ of emerging ‘Gentlemen’ such as John Burton of Wakefield.  Mr Burton rented out land to be farmed by reliable local tenants who would look after its fertility – people such as Churchwarden James Leadbetter, who was the occupier of the top field of the Park  called Little Kelcliffe.  Little Kelcliffe we found was frequently used for meadow and hay making a practice confirmed by both a metal detecting survey and stories from older Guiseley people who took time of school to help.

As the 18th century turned into the 19th,  the great Georgian house building period began, as people grew wealthier, became clothiers,  and wanted bigger and better houses: it is during this time that some of the older houses around the Park along Kelcliffe Lane were built – including Flatfield House, New Dykes, and Crooklands followed by Kelcliffe Mount. The lane itself had only been made up around 1709 to go to the tannery,  previously it had been a simple riding way and footpath.

The Jonathan Peate connection

Peate’s Oak Trees (and seedling)

Around 1900, as Guiseley became a thriving manufacturing township,  complete with public buildings and modern transport such as trams and railways, the land around the park was bought by local woollen cloth manufacturer and philanthropist Jonathan Peate.  Jonathan was well-known for buying land and helping the local working men to acquire allotments and houses on favourable term. He also presented land to the urban district councils of Yeadon and Guiseley to use for public buildings eg Yeadon Town Hall or as public open space eg Nunroyd Park. We found in the deeds that he had purchased Clapper Brow and it is likely that around 1909, the time of the coronation of George V,  he planted the oak trees that still line the boundary in what is now a small wood.

Continued ...………………………….Frank and Albert Parkinson’s journey begins