|East Riddlesden Hall,
in Morton, near Keighley, West Yorkshire is now owned by
The National Trust. It is open to the public from May
until October and is furnished in 17th and 18th century
Although now in the midst of suburbia it had always been a farming enterprise having large barns and a watermill (now destroyed) on the nearby river Ayre. The monks of Bolton Abbey kept a fish pond in the river at Riddlesden in the middle ages. The bulk of the house now is that which was built by James Murgatroyd in the 1640s. A central 'hall' is all that remains of the 16th century house. To the left is the Murgatroyd additions and to the right (now only a facade) is the later Starkie wing.
|East Riddlesden was acquired by James
Murgatroyd in 1631 from John and Richard Rishworth who
reserved the right to live in the old house as tenants
until they should die. There was a structure on the south
side but the 1642 additions were build over it. The
design of the house is interesting, incorporating some
forms from classical architecture and features that can
be found in the other houses built by James (Rose windows
over the entrance porches with pinnacled towers above)
The interior is, for the most part plain panelling
although there are two carved friezes and decorative
ceilings in the dining room and drawing room.
To the left of the main building is a 'bothy' or 'milke house wthin court'. The incorporation of a decorative interlacing strapwork frieze suggests that the building was used as living quarters by one of the Murgatroyds (son John perhaps) while the new block was being built. It was completed in 1642 as shown by the date stone above the door. The completion of this building by James in 1642 was in the year of the Battle of Edgehill (October, 1642). Above the battlements of the 'Bothy' James depicted in stone two Royalist heads in full bottomed wig and underneath, carved the words "VIVELEROY". This was not the wisest time to express Royalist sentiments. At this time in September, 1643 the Royalists under Newcastle defeated the Fairfaxes at Adwalton Moor Bradford, but within one year York fell and then outside of Lancashire, and a few garrisons, Charles had lost all the North of England to Cromwell's forces. The Murgatroyds, John and his family at East Riddlesden Hal must have felt exposed and this feeling must have been aggravated when on the 30th of January, 1649 Charles was be-headed in Whitehall.
|No doubt the Murgatroyds at Riddlesden
were made to pay for being Royalists, and they were lucky
not to have lost all their lands by way of forfeiture.
They would have had to pay the 'decimation' tax of ten
percent levied on all Royalists and many other fines.
On the 29th May 1660, when Charles the second was placed on the throne, the damage had been done as it was not long after the death of Charles the first, that things started to go wrong. Indeed a year later James Murgatroyd was defending his family home at Warley against attack by Parliamentary troops in the locally celebrated `Battle of the Hollins' (as his house became known in later years). In this engagement, which forced Murgatroyd to capitulate, one Parliamentary soldier was injured by a roof slate.
|By 1648 the house was largely complete
although from the layout of the kitchen and hall it is
surmised that, after the demise of the Rishworths (who
remained in the north section) the house would have been
extended through this area with large reception rooms.
However the burden of rebuilding Kershaw House, taxes and
levies on his properties and the effect of the civil war
on his business returns all must have cut the money
supply down so no extensions were done. James died a few
years later at age 78.
The house was Johns and on the death of James his father, he inherited debts and litigations with other family members that forced him to borrow money against the house and his children. He died in 1662.
A series of deaths without issue, rendered James's line at East Riddlesden null, and, after further extensive suits in Chancery, the property devolved on Edmund Starkie and his brother Nicholas. Edmund was the child of Mary Murgatroyd, the builder's daughter, who, being widowed in 1643, had apparently brought him to East Riddlesden to live with her brother John. Edmund was certainly in residence in 1672, when the hearth tax returns name him as a householder. In the same year the will of John Murgatroyd's eldest son James, who had died in 1671: leaving everything to his daughter Susannah, urged his executors `to prosecute and continue the suit in Chancery between myself and Edmund Starkie concerning the manor of Riddlesden'. This suit seems to have concerned the effective mortgage of East Riddlesden by James's brother, another John (d. 1666), to his cousin Edmund (via Edmund's wife), apparently without the knowledge of his brother. Further Legal actions continued into the 18th century, and it is not known precisely when the Starkies finally obtained the freehold of the property. A lease of East Riddlesden, for a year only, was signed in 1708 between John Murgatroyd (of the Warley branch) and Edmund Starkie. Despite the legal battles Edmund by the 1690's must have felt secure enough in his residence to remodel the north wing or "upper" part of the house and completed the task started by the first James Murgatroyd 50 years earlier.