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The mill dam on the Ludd

The Queens Mill

About the 12th century there were established in England "Manorial Mills" for the grinding of corn. These mills were established near running streams and called Water Corn Mills, at which tenants of the manor were compelled to grind their grain, a 20th of the grain being paid for the use of the mill. There were several of these Corn Mills in the Parish of Halifax, and is seems evident that the Warley Mill was one of the oldest of them. Mention is made of the Warley Mill in the Wakefield Court Rolls of 1274. The mill belonged to the Lord of the Manor and was let to the miller or other leasee for an annual rental, payable twice yearly. The miller was one of the most important and wealthy persons in the community in the middle ages, and next to the manor house and the parsonage, the millers home displayed the greatest signs of well-being and comfort.

The Warley Mill became too small for the tenants requirements and was becoming worn out so in 1379 John Maude, Thomas de Brokesbank, John de Morgaterode and Thomas del Oldfield were ordered to supervise the removal of the mill at Warley to "Ludingdene" and to supervise the erection there. Thus began an association of the Murgatroyd name with the Luddenden Corn Mills that was to last for 500 years.

A Mill Wheel
There was a jolly miller once,
Lived on the river (Ludd)
He danced and sang from morn till night
No lark so blithe (and good)
And this the burden of his song
For ever used to be -
I care for nobody, no, not I
If nobody cares for me.


The location of the first mill on the Ludd river seems to have been about 800 meters below the present township. This is shown on an old map of the Ludd drawn by Saxton in 1599 where it is shown as "the old mill" with the site of the "old Dam" above it. Interestingly the house of a Henry Murgatroyd is shown beside the mill with extensive grounds running beside the river. Was he the miller at some time in that early period or perhaps Murgatroyds had acquired the land where the old mill had stood and built on it later.

The location of the "Queens Mill" is shown on the map as being in the township of Luddenden and it is recorded that in 1578 a grant of Warley Mill for thirty years was made to Hugh Lacy and Gilbert Lacy, a prominant family in the area. The will of Gilbert, of Brearly Hall, Midgley in 1605 leaves considerable monetary amounts to his four daughters and a son, coming from the lease of the mill. One of the Daughters was Mary, married to James Murgatroyd (d.1653) whos second son Henry was to marry back into the Lacy family and gain control of the mill in 1632.

    from a Court document:

"King James the First by his letters patent, as well under the Great Seal of England, as under the Seal of the said Duchy, bearing date the 22nd day of May in the seventh year of his reign (1609) over England, for the consideration therein mentioned, did Grant to Edward Ferrers and Francis Phillips and their Heirs, amongst other things, All that Water Corn and Grist Mill situate in Warley, in the county of York, called Warley Mill, together with all the Corn and Grist Soke, Grist toll, and Multure of all the inhabitants, to hold to their Heirs and assigns for ever under the yearly rent of 18s. reserved to the crown."

1633 lintel stone.

The lintel stone where it lays today.
Below is a drawing of the engraved
'1633, W for Warley, M for mill,
S for soke, H and I for
Henry and Jane, the owners

On the 30th June, 1609, Edward Farrar, of London, mercer, and Francis Phillips, of London, gentleman, conveyed to Hugh Lacy, of Midgley, gent, all that Water Mill of Warley with all the Soke and Suit to that belonging.

1632 Henry Murgatroyd married Jane Lacy daughter and heiress of Thomas Lacy of Midgley. The brides father assigned to Henry the lease that he held of the Warley Corn Mills. Henry and Jane did extensive work on the mills. A lintel stone by them is still on the mill site and matches a similar one at Oatsroyd House which they (and father James) rebuilt in 1635.

In 1653 the will of James Murgatroyd left to his wife Mary, the Warley Milnes and Kilnes and all Soke and Suit to the same belonging. There seems to be some shared ownership here as Henry and his son James are, in 1660's, the owners again.

Henry vested property in the name of his first son and heir, James, including the Warley Mill, but was in trouble when James died aged 36 in 1671 leaving only one heiress, his daughter Judith. This was at the time that Henry was gaoled for 4 years (1672 - 1676) in relation to a problem over at East Riddlesden Hall. To prevent the loss of the properties to the family, Henry's second son John married his niece Judith and became the miller at age 24 in 1679.

A document dated 4th July, 1691
forth that in the Dutchy Court
Lancaster, in the third year of
reign of King William and Queen mary,
Murgatroyd, his wife Judith, and
James were plaintiffs, against
Tattersall, George Oldfield, and
Starchy, Defendants.

The tenants of the Manor in 1690 were getting tired of the compulsion to grind their corn at the Manor Mill, and attempts were being made by the Warley inhabitants to get rid of the system. An action was bought at the Lancaster Court against a group who had 'ground away' a quantity of corn. The defence was that the mills had not been kept in good repair and there was difficulty in getting from their homes to the mill by reason of the dis-repair and the inadequacy of roads and access down the steep bank from Warley village. The defence was lost and the defendants fined but a curious decree that 'no action shall in any time be bought against any person whatsoever for their withdrawing their Soke and Suit for their time past'. Possibly the Court was only preventing retrospective actions against previous offenders, however history seems to have interpreted the words to mean that the Murgatroyd monopoly was then broken. The records of this action have been preserved and provide insight into the relationships of the Murgatroyds of that period.
Map of Mills Successive generations of this branch of the family assumed ownership of the Mills until in 1854 Hartley and John Murgatroyd put it up for sale. It was now an ordinary Corn Mill and had grown to quite an impressive size. The following description of the Mill appeared in the particulars of sale:-

"All that valuable Corn Mill called "Upper Mill" situate in Luddenden, with the Malt Kiln, Warehouses, Stabling for 18 Horses, Wagon and Cart sheds, Gighouse, Joiner's Shop, Paved Yards and Outbuildings. Also the Reservoir behind the same, containing 2,008 superficial square yards, with the Water Wheel and the entire Fall of the Luddenden Brook, being about 30 horsepower. And also the Weir and Dam-stones across the Brook, Cloughs, and the Plot of Ground appropriate thereto, together with the use of the head Goit and the Tail Goits.

The Mill is five stories High, and attic, and the whole of the premises have been recently rearranged. The water wheel is a new iron one, 27 feet in diameter and nine on the breast."

The Mill was not sold at the auction in 1854 but was subsequently sold to two local residents in 1856. It continued to function until the early 1900's but now is mostly gone, only the dam and some of the old corn race can now be seen.

1997 R.D.Murgatroyd.
Updated-February, 2002