History of the parish of Buckden

The earliest evidence of human habitation in the parish dates 
back to the Bronze Age; this stone circle or ring cairn can be 
seen beside the river at Yockenthwaite. The stones are generally 
thought to be all that remains of a pre-historic burial mound. The 
circle can be found about 1/3 mile up stream from Yockenthwaite 
village on the north bank of the river. (Map Ref. SD899794)

Although the village of Buckden was founded in Norman times, the 
village lies on the route of the roman road from Ilkley (Olicana) to 
Bainbridge (Virosidum) where the Romans had a fort. The bridleway 
known as Buckden Rake follows the path of the roman road, heading 
up through Rakes Wood towards Cray and then over Stake Moss.

Buckden itself was established in the 12th Century as the 
administrative centre for the hunting forest of Langstrothdale Chase. 
This was one of ten hunting forests in the dales and was controlled 
until 1534 by the Percy family, who became Earls of Northumberland 
in 1377. The entire dale north of Buckden was set aside for hunting, 
with Buckden as the main settlement where the Forest Keeper and 
some of his staff were based. 

There were also outlying lodges at Cray, Hubberholme, Raisgill, 
Yockenthwaite, Deepdale, Beckermonds & Oughtershaw, where lesser 
officials were responsible for managing the forest and collecting rents. 
The Chase was subject to strict regulation enforced by a court known 
as the "Woodmote" which met every 40 days. Although the villagers 
of the chase had some rights including collecting firewood and honey, 
and grazing pigs,  poaching and cutting down trees were severely 
punished. 

The church at Hubberholme dates from this period, and was originally 
a forest chapel dedicated to St Oswald.

In Norman times the area was densely wooded though little of this forest 
now remains. The hunting of deer finally died out in the 1950s. From 
Norman times until the reformation much of the land belonged 
to the Monasteries, with Fountains Abbey owning much of the land from
Langstrothdale to Fountains Fell. 

In the mid seventeenth century lead mining developed above Buckden, 
and the remnants of this can be seen at the Buckden Gavel mine on 
the flank of Buckden Pike. The mine opened in 1697 and was was worked 
until 1877 when it was abandoned due to competition from cheaper imported
lead. The ore was smelted at Buckden High Smelt Mill and subsequently at 
Buckden Low Mill, until 1843 when Starbotton Cupola took over. Curiously, 
in March 1964, a skeleton was found in Buckden Gavel mine. The body was 
never identified and was nicknamed "Buckden Bill"; from coins and a funeral 
card found on the body it is thought that the body dates from 1890; it is not 
known what he was doing in the mine as the body was some 400 yards from
the entrance, and this as well as his identity seem likely to remain a mystery
for ever.

Scar House, above Hubberholme became a Quaker meeting House
following a visit from George Fox, the founder of the Quaker movement in
1652. There is a Quaker burial ground adjacent to the cottage, which is now 
owned by the National Trust and operated as a holiday cottage.

Since the 18th century (and possibly earlier) on the first Monday after 
New Year's Day, a "parliament" has been held at the George Inn at 
Hubberholme - the grazing rights to a 16 acre "poor pasture" are 
auctioned by the Vicar, with the auction finishing when the candle on the 
bar burns out. This event is known as the Land Letting.

 

The bridge at Buckden is known as the "election bridge", so-called 
because, following the destruction of the bridge at Hubberholme by a 
flood in the late 18th Century, the prospective local MP promised to 
give 200 for a new bridge if he was elected.

 
 
 
 
The small school, a mid-Victorian mock Gothic building, was organised 
and paid for locally. It was opened in about 1857 and closed in 1933. 
The school-room is still used for Parish events, while the School House 
is now a private residence.

Click here to view a map of the village dating from 1852, which clearly 
shows that the school was not yet built.

                               

 

On the 30th January 1942 a Wellington bomber with a Polish aircrew 
crashed on the summit of Buckden Pike in a snowstorm. Only the rear 
gunner - Joseph Fusniak - survived the crash, following the tracks of a 
fox down from the Pike to the White Lion at Cray. In 1973, he decided
 to build a memorial to his comrades, which can be seen on the 
summit of the Pike. More details of this story can be found at 
www.buckdenpike.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

During the second world war pupils from Leeds Grammar School 
were evacuated to Buckden House. One of the teachers who 
accompanied them, Hilda Christie,  wrote an interesting account of 
life in Buckden during the war in her autobiography - "Please"