A Short History of Sowerby

In Wachefeld cu(m) xi berew. Sandala. Sorebi. Werlafeslie. Mideie. Wadesuurde. Cribetonestun. Langfelt. Stanesfelt. Sunt ad gld. Lx. Carucate q(u)e. III bouate
In Wakefield, with 9 Berewicks, Sandal Magna, Sowerby, Warley, Midgley, 'Wadsworth' [in Heptonstall], 'Cruttonstall' [in Erringden], Longfield [and] Stansfield, are 60 carucates of land 3 bovates
Sowerby, or as it was listed "Sorebi", was mentioned, in the Domesday Book (1086), as the principle settlement in the area of land that was the "Forest of Sowerbyshire". This covered the land on the south side of the River Calder and west side of the River Ryburn. These valleys were natural passages to and from Lancashire and Sowerby was in an outstanding position, being situated as it was, overlooking the confluence of the two rivers.

In those days Sowerby Bridge was exactly that, just a bridge over the River Calder, and Halifax had no mention at all. Some people have decided that Halifax must be the mysterious "feslei" shown at the start of the second line, however all the place names start with a capital letter and end with a full stop - this would make feslie part of the word Werla at the end of the first line. Sorry Halifax, you aren't mentioned!

The Forest of Sowerbyshire was part of the Earl de Warren's reward from William the Conqueror for services rendered during the invasion and was one of nine "berewicks" in the Manor of Wakefield.

The status quo continued until part of Sowerbyshire (present day Erringden) was fenced off for a deer and wild animal hunting park in 1449. At about this time it is thought that a castle was built in Sowerby, the site of which is still marked on O.S. maps, although the only remains are a slight hillock in one of the village fields. The remains of the deer park however are still to be found alongside the river Calder west of Mytholmroyd in the shape of standing stones on which is carved the letter S, denoting Sowerby. This narrow strip of land, called the Sowerby Ramble, ran along the south side of the River Calder to Stoodley Glen, about 500 yards east of the present day Stoodley Pike. The fence was apparently to stop the deer from drinking from the River Calder, making them use the Cragg Vale water instead.

The deer park was gradually abandoned over the years and the settlement of Erringden along with the Palace (palisade) House area in Hebden Bridge was transferred to Heptonstall, still leaving the Sowerby Ramble to Sowerby.

This left Sowerby with the status of a "local board" and it stayed that way until in 1926 when it became the Sowerby District Council. In the 1930's it was amalgamated with Sowerby Bridge to become Sowerby Bridge Urban District Council.

In 1885 Sowerby was awarded the accolade of being selected as a Parliamentary Constituency covering Elland to Hebden Bridge and all places in between; this lasted until the 1983 reorganisation when it was split up and became part of Calderdale.

As far as some long-term residents were concerned Sowerby starts at St Peter's Church and includes most of the hillside to the west. Nowadays it is generally accepted that Beechwood and Brockwell are also a part. Many people still argue that Sowerby is a separate village in its own right and that it is not a part of Sowerby Bridge, even though the Post Office and Local Council say that it is.

Famous People include John Tillotson, Archbishop of Canterbury 1691-94, and more recently Baron Houghton of Sowerby; as Douglas Houghton he was MP from 1949-74. Daniel Defoe visited Sowerby on his travels; "A tour thro' the whole island of Great Britain..."

There are many 17th century buildings still remaining in the village, Sowerby Hall, The Royd, Castle Hill, Wood lane Hall and Field House. In the outlying districts that constituted the Forest of Sowerbyshire there are dozens more 17th century buildings.

The South side of Towngate in SOWERBY was decimated in the 1950's clearing away several 17th century and earlier properties, to make way for the large new Rooley Estate and road widening.

Of the Churches there was St. Peter's Church, Providence Methodist Church, Rooley Lane Methodist Church, Sowerby Congregational Church, Steep Lane Baptist Church, and Boulderclough Methodist Church - all within a mile of the village. Of these, only two churches now remain: St Peter's Anglican Church, built in 1766 in classical Georgian style and features plasterwork "unmatchable elsewhere in the county" and the Baptist Church at Steep Lane.

Some little known facts about Sowerby

Sowerby as it was nearly 100 years ago