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Another haunted house. The hall was built in 1642 by a wealthy Halifax clothier, James Murgatroyd. There is a medieval tithebarn in the grounds. East Riddlesden Hall perches on a small plateau overlooking a bend in the River Aire on its way downstream from the town of Keighley. Interesting features include well-restored living accommodation on two floors, two Yorkshire Rose windows, walled garden, the ruined Starkie wing and several ghosts (reputedly). A hiding place for Catholic priests was installed during the 16th century. In case you are wondering how the priests hole was installed a century before the hall was built, we must presume it was attached to the buildings associated with the medieval tithebarn. James also built other stone manor houses throughout the West Riding of Yorkshire. In the great hall, a small fireplace can be seen above the main fireplace, where the floor for the first floor accommodation was not built. James Murgatroyd was a Royalist and this can be seen in royalist symbols and graffiti on and in the building. For example, the Bothy (now the tea room and shop) has the heads of Charles I of England and Henrietta Maria of France carved in the top most stone work.

 

According to a NODA National News feature in 2007, the Murgatroyd family are reputed to be the inspiration for the Murgatroyd Baronets in the comic opera Ruddigore by Gilbert and Sullivan, and the opera has been performed at the Hall. W. S. Gilbert is supposed to have stayed often at the Hall. The feature comments that the Murgatroyds became notorious "for their profanity and debauchery". A legend arose that the River Aire changed its course in shame, in order to flow further away from the hall and its occupants(the river does indeed sweep into a wide U-bend to skirt the meadow, giving the building a wide berth). The feature continues "Members of the family were fined, imprisoned and excommunicated". It asserts that the character of Sir Despard Murgatroyd in Ruddigore is based on James Murgatroyd. All of which makes one wonder if there is any association with the 'Snagglepuss' exhortation "Heavens to Murgatroyd" - in fact the first cited usage was in the 1944 MGM film 'Meet the People'.

 

An impressive entrance front is dominated by a great two-storey porch, the doorway flanked by classical columns and above it is an ecclesiastical rose window of eight lights (of a type said to be unique to West Yorkshire). The porch is topped by battlements and Gothic pinnacles. To the left stretches the square main block of the house with its mullioned windows and gabled facades. Partly accessible grounds, loose gravel paths, slight incline to house. Portable ramps and garden directories. Mobility parking in main car park. Drop-off point. Adapted toilet in main toilet block. Three steps to entrance of building. Alternative accessible entrance, ramp available. One wheelchair. Ground floor accessible. Many stairs with handrail to other floors. This friendly house is brought to life through stories told by volunteer room guides. Free Braille, large print and access guides are available on request. Assistance dogs only are welcome into the house. The kitchen has a selection of replica objects which visitors are invited to handle. Full Access Statement. Note: £1 off entry when arriving via Keighley & District Transport buses on receipt of a valid bus ticket.

 

Location : Bradford Rd, Riddlesden, Keighley, Yorkshire BD20 5EL

Transport: Keighley (National Rail) then bus. Bus routes : 662 from Keighley or Bradford, or the 760 from Keighley or Leeds; alighting at Granby Lane (100m).

Opening Times : Friday to Wednesday 10:30 to 16:30

Tickets: Adults £6.20;  Children £3.00

Tel: 01535 607075