History of the parish of Buckden
The earliest evidence of human habitation in the
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
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
Scar House, above Hubberholme became a Quaker
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
During the second world war pupils from Leeds
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".