East Riddlesden Hall

Estimated reading time: 1 minute, 49 seconds

East Riddlesden Hall is a 17th-century manor house in Keighley, West Yorkshire, England, now owned by the National Trust. The hall was built in 1642 by a wealthy Halifax clothier, James Murgatroyd. The hall is a Grade I listed building. There is a medieval tithebarn in the grounds.

A view of the main entrance (including rose window) of the property

East Riddlesden Hall perches on a small plateau overlooking a bend in the River Aire on its way downstream from the town of Keighley. Interesting features include well-restored living accommodation on two floors, two Yorkshire Rose windows, walled garden, the ruined Starkie wing and several ghosts (reputedly). A hiding place for Catholic priests was installed during the 16th century.

The property was extended and re-built by James Murgatroyd and his wife Hannah, using local Yorkshire stone, in 1648. He also built other stone manor houses throughout the West Riding of Yorkshire. In the great hall, a small fireplace can be seen above the main fireplace, where the floor for the first floor accommodation was not built. James Murgatroyd was a Royalist and this can be seen in royalist symbols and graffiti on and in the building. For example, the Bothy (now the tea room and shop) has the heads of Charles I of England and Henrietta Maria of France carved in the topmost stone work.

According to a NODA National News feature in 2007, the Murgatroyd family are reputed to be the inspiration for the Murgatroyd Baronets in the comic opera Ruddigore by Gilbert and Sullivan, and the opera has been performed at the Hall. W. S. Gilbert is supposed to have often stayed at the Hall. The feature comments that the Murgatroyds became notorious “for their profanity and debauchery”. A legend arose that the River Aire changed its course in shame, in order to flow further away from the hall and its occupants(the river does indeed sweep into a wide U-bend to skirt the meadow, giving the building a wide berth). The feature continues “Members of the family were fined, imprisoned and excommunicated”. It asserts that the character of Sir Despard Murgatroyd in Ruddigore is based on James Murgatroyd.

He has been interested in the paranormal since he was 11yrs old. He has had many experiences with both ghosts and UFO's and it has just solidified his beliefs. He set up this site to catalogue as much information about the paranormal in one location. He is the oldest of three and moved from the UK to the USA in 2001.