A scandalous tale on the Spen Valley trail

A scandalous tale on the Spen Valley trail

IT could be a scene from the DH Lawrence classic Lady Chatterley’s Lover – but it happened for real in Liversedge.

Historian Mike Popplewell is continuing his trip around the Spen Valley Civic Society’s fame trail and has unearthed a bit of scandal.

This week he came to plaque 11 for the Luddite connections at Headlands Hall on Roberttown Lane.

He noted that over the road is Duxbury Hall, a 17th century manor where the mill-owning Brooks family lived in the Victorian era. The niece of the owner ran away with a farm labourer and got married at Birstall Parish Church.

Legend has it that on the morning of the wedding, the head of the family discovered they were missing, got wind of their plans and rode on horseback to Birstall.

He arrived just in time to see them emerge from the church and demanded the vicar annul the marriage.

The minister replied he could “bind, but not unloose” and was reported to have said: “If I should enter into the latter branch of business, I might have a good many more customers than I could attend to.”

The farm labourer, it was claimed, was later bribed by his wife’s family to leave her.

She was packed off to America to start a new life and never saw her young husband again.Duxbury Hall Aug 2016

Mike’s journeys are in celebration of the civic society’s work, which is nearly a decade old.

In doing so he has found further claims to fame for some locations and others that were not featured back then.

Grade II-listed Headlands Hall was built in 1690 and was a coaching inn called the Old Yew Tree during the Luddite uprising of 1812.

Mike said: “Today the residents of Headlands Hall are unlikely to see scandalous goings-on.

“Duxbury Hall is now the home of Lord and Lady Shaw, with nothing more exciting going on than perhaps her ladyship doing a spot of gardening.”

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