Longley Old Hall Brief history Visiting
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LAYOUT OF THE HALL
The Hall faces South towards Castle Hill. By Tudor times the house formed what is known as an "H Plan" house, that is one with two cross wings joined by a central hall. There is evidence that the wings were built in the 14th C and an open hall added later. We don't know whether this new hall replaced an earlier hall or was built to link two medieval houses. In its original form it would have been timber framed and although much of this remains inside, the external impression is of a stone house of the early 17th century. The 1854 Ordnance Survey map shows an "L" shaped building and the extension on the back of the West wing must have been demolished between then and 1884.
We do not know when the building was clad in stone, but this was done most probably towards the end of Elizabeth's reign or in the early years of the reign of James I. At that time in-laws of the Ramsden family called Appleyard were tenants. The rear rooms of each wing were removed and at the front the central part of the hall was pushed forward so that the present rectilinear shape came about. During the 1885 restoration re-cladding took place on the side walls, but Elizabethan walls remain underneath.
Entering from the lane by the porch door in the East wing, the first room is the Dining Room. It has the appearance of a plain 16/17th century room, and at one time was part of the kitchen and service rooms. Within some of the walls are the remains of a structure some 200 or 300 years older. Originally, the wing would have had a another room to the north.
When the curate of Longley lived in the Hall in the late 19th and early 20th centuries he used this room as the parish hall. The 17th C door to the right of the fire place may have led to a staircase that exited in what is now a cupboard on the floor above.
This also formed part of the service rooms, but in common with fashion at the time of the upgrade in 1544 its use became more high status. It has fine oak beams and joists with stop chamfers. The Tudor or Elizabethan oak panelling is believed to be original to the house, but was moved here from other parts of the hall in 1885. William Ramsden's Commonplace Book of 1544 mentions him buying timber from the Manor of Tadcaster (where he held the office of Woodward) to repair his house at Longley.
The Elizabethan window seat is too high for comfortable sitting. At some time (maybe during alterations in the early 18thC) the floor was lowered.
Before the 16th/17th century alterations much of the space was outside the building, forming the open space made by the legs of the "H". Archaeologists found evidence of a timber-framed porch. Note the width of the medieval timbers in the wall - this is known as close studding and the wood is wider than the gaps indicating high status.
The upper wall plate indicates the eaves height of the original wing. Evidence in the bedroom over the morning room shows the builders raised the walls of the E wing with the original roof joists in place and built the new roof before taking down the earlier one. Using this evidence, the archaeologists calculated the builders widened the E wing by about a foot.
This has oak beams and panelling. We removed the two painted panels and re-positioned them in the back hall. They are a painted quotation from an epistle of Peter, but in a pre King James' translation. The fixing of the panels and frame have been identified as late Elizabethan or early Jacobean.
We have a rough idea of the date of this room and it could not have existed before the Appleyards' extended the front of the building in the late 16th C. The rear half would have formed part of the open hall.
Evidence of the cross passage remains in the blocked up opening near the dining room door. The re-positioned oak post holds up the roof and dates from the insertion of the first staircase following the Elizabethan alterations. In the cloakroom a wooden door lintel in the wall dates from the late 14thC.
East wing upstairs (not open to the public)
These rooms were most probably weaving workshops at some point, and would have had a much lower roof originally. The walls in the roof space have lime plaster and lime wash on them, and have two blocked windows high in the E wall, indicating the rooms were open to roof at one time.
Whilst repairing the ceiling in one of the bedrooms we found the plaster on the outside walls is much earlier than we expected as it contains lime and hair. We discovered a blocked up window that used part of an earlier tie beam as a lintel. None of this work appears in the external wall.
The archaeological survey assumed the rebuilding of outside walls during the 1885 restoration, but it now seems only the rebuilding of the external wall place. We now conclude the internal walls date to the time of the late Elizabethan alterations.
Blocked window and a
beam used as a lintel in a bedroom in
the E wing (January 2008)
The room forms part of the roof space of open hall. The first evidence of the real age of hall came to light on the second day after we moved in.
We found two roof trusses under plaster partitioning. Part of the timber framing of west wing was found in a void. The laths used to hold the plaster are beech and pine barrels staves. We have had these dated to the 15thC and 16thC respectively. Behind the first truss we found a brace and some studding from the room that once existed behind the remaining solar. Interestingly, wattle and daub fill the gaps, whereas throughout the rest of the house the more traditional stone features.
This has vernacular timberwork inserted during the 16th/17th century to support the new front wall. On the beam, by the door into the kitchen chamber, a number of holes have been drilled at about 45°, one of which has a peg in it. We have no idea what these represent, but we had a suggestion they may have formed part of warping activity before the building of the chimney.
West wing - upper hall - the solar
This room contains medieval timber dating from the 14thC. It has a collared rafter roof with queen struts, a type of construction unusual in the highland areas of the West Riding, but common in lowland towns such as Shrewsbury, York and the Fenland. The steepness of the roof may indicate it was thatched originally. Doubt remains as to whether the original building had a floor. A four-poster bed now hides the doorway that led into the demolished rear room.
The photograph above shows part of the second roof truss. The building of the chimney most probably necessitated the removal of the braces; they were hacked away and tennons and their pegs still remain. The impressive size of the braces may indicate the existence of an open hall at some time, for they required six pegs in the posts, more than any other in the building. For a wall plate of the length seen here the timbers needed joining. By the second truss, each side of the room has a scarf joint visible; the beams go behind the third truss into the void space behind.
The room has numerous "witch marks". An historian identified these as vernacular versions of the "snake and rod badges" used by medical services. Three on roof trusses indicate the position of a smoke vent for an open fire. We think the present chimney dates
Ralph Bevis 2007
from the time of the Elizabethan alterations.
The front of the wing has a stone gable, but inside the room has a gablet roof, that is a hipped roof with a small gable at the top, in this case to allow smoke to clear. The long rafter in the W side rests on a "dragon" beam; the one on the E side has gone. In the 1970s English Heritage carbon dated the re-used beam in the front of the solar. The report has gone, but the previous owners told us the mid-date was around 1350.
The Victorian kitchen
The long and thick oak boards in the ceiling may have been the original floor of the wing. They are rare in West Yorkshire and survived because they were covered by lath and plaster below and two later floor levels above. English Heritage told us they had national importance. We have started the uncomfortable job of cleaning them and we intend to fill the gaps with lime plaster. The pine door the W has a 17th C handle.
We have stoned up the old doorway discovered some years ago in the back wall, but left a viewing hatch. Inside the void space behind we found, to the left main post of the wing and to the right plaster on the wall, and the remains of a fireplace - not visible, unfortunately. Above is what looks like a plastered floor board, and further on we found a large piece of studding lying horizontal - we have not examined either closely.
Ralph Bevis 2007
We have now fitted the early 19th C style kitchen units.
Ralph Bevis 2007
The cellar has a barrel vaulted ceiling and is cut out of the bedrock.
The plastered walls in the lofts show the upper rooms had ceilings fitted in the Victorian period, most probably in the restoration of 1885.
Blocked window in E wing roof space (January 2008)
The barn, stables and garage date from the 1970s. The previous owners bred horses and demolished the old stables to provide modern facilities.