Thornhill, West Yorkshire

Last updated

West Yorkshire UK location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location within West Yorkshire
Population6,875 (2005)
OS grid reference SE245185
Metropolitan borough
Metropolitan county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town DEWSBURY
Postcode district WF12
Dialling code 01924
Police West Yorkshire
Fire West Yorkshire
Ambulance Yorkshire
UK Parliament
List of places
53°39′44″N1°36′45″W / 53.6622°N 1.6124°W / 53.6622; -1.6124 Coordinates: 53°39′44″N1°36′45″W / 53.6622°N 1.6124°W / 53.6622; -1.6124

Thornhill is a village and former township in Dewsbury, Kirklees, West Yorkshire, England. Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, Thornhill was absorbed into Dewsbury County Borough in 1910. It is located on a hill on the south side of the River Calder, and has extensive views of Dewsbury, Ossett and Wakefield. It is known for its collection of Anglo-Saxon crosses.



Thornhill is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 as within the ancient wapentake of Agbrigg, [1] while Anglian crosses and other remains indicate that there was a settlement here by the 9th century. A hoard of 27 Roman denarii found in Turnip lane and pottery at the cross indicates substantially earlier settlement. The tombstone of a certain very high-ranking Anglian called Osberht (a very rare find) was found in the graveyard of Thornhill Parish Church. Some historians claim that the grave bearing the name Osbehrt is that of King Osberht, who was killed on 21 March 867 while fighting the Viking Great Heathen Army led by Ivar the Boneless. The gravestone (among other contemporaneous high-status Anglian gravestones) is on display in the church. The local place-names of Ludd Well (shown in a 1602 map) and the Combs indicate Celtic settlement. This is reinforced by the dedication of the Parish Church to St Michael, which is typical for churches in high places in formerly Celtic parts of northern England. The Celtic kingdom of Elmet (covering modern West Yorkshire) collapsed in AD 617. In 1320 Edward II granted a charter for a market and a fair. [2]

This is the original coat of arms for the Thornhill family, before they married in with the Saviles. Thornhill coat of arms.jpg
This is the original coat of arms for the Thornhill family, before they married in with the Saviles.

In the reign of Henry III, Thornhill Hall was the seat of the Thornhill family, who intermarried with the De Fixbys and Babthorpes in the reigns of Edward I and Edward II. In the reign of Edward III, Elizabeth Thornhill, the only child of Simon Thornhill, married Sir Henry Savile. This extinguished the family line of Thornhills of Thornhill which now passed its property down the Savile line. Thornhill now became the seat of the powerful Savile family. [3]

The Saviles later intermarried with the Calverley family as well, so that when Sir John Savile died in 1503 in Thornhill, he left provision in his will for his sister Alice, married to Sir William Calverley. [4] Sir William Savile, the third baronet of the family, fortified the hall.

Seizure of Thornhill Hall

The Saviles remained here until the English Civil War when the house was besieged. As royalist heroine since the siege of Sheffield Castle in 1644, Lady Anne Savile's troops under Capt. Thomas Paulden (brother of William Paulden) in August 1648 defended Thornhill Hall against the Parliamentary forces under Col. Sir Thomas Fairfax. They were forced to surrender and the hall was destroyed. [5]

St. Michael and All Angels, Thornhill Parish Church St Michael and All Angels, Thornhill 1.jpg
St. Michael and All Angels, Thornhill Parish Church

The Old Rectory survived and was home to several prominent vicars, most notably John Michell, who first rose to international prominence by developing an understanding of earthquakes, then devised an experiment to accurately determine the mass of planet Earth, but perhaps most intriguingly for Thornhill, attracted Benjamin Franklin (founding father of the USA), Joseph Priestley, Jan Ingenhousz, John Smeaton and others to a scientific meeting and overnight stay in 1771. Benjamin Franklin's stay in Thornhill remained unknown until 2015.

Some ruins of the house and the moat still remain at Thornhill Rectory Park. [6] The moat still retains water.

Monuments to members of the Thornhill and Savile families are in Thornhill Parish Church. [7]

Industrial Revolution

Thornhill has close ties to coal mining. The demand for coal increased due to the development of the steam engine. The local population increased as more workers were recruited for the mines. In 1893 a mining disaster at Combs Pit killed 139 coal miners. Thornhill Colliery resulted from the merging of Inghams and Combs Collieries in 1948 but closed in 1971.


Historically Thornhill (St. Michael) was a large ecclesiastical parish in the wapentake of Agbrigg, West Riding of Yorkshire which joined the Dewsbury Poor Law Union in 1837. In 1894 it was an urban district and in 1910 it was incorporated into Dewsbury County Borough. [8]


Thornhill is situated on a hill on the south side of the River Calder and the Calder and Hebble Navigation. The township covered 2,486 acres (10.06 km2) and the underlying rock comprises coal measures. Thornhill encompasses the areas of Thornhill Edge, Overthorpe and Fox Royd overlooking the valleys of the Howroyd Beck and Smithy Brook. [2]


The Thornhill area has two junior schools: Overthorpe (C of E) Junior and Infants and Thornhill Junior and Infants School. Thornhill Community Academy is the area's secondary school, with a GCSE pass rate of 84% in 2010, an increase of 22 percentage points from 2009. Recently the school has undergone various modifications, and is now a Science College. Much of the school has been refurbished and modernised. Construction of a new sports hall was completed in April 2007 and includes a new Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA).


Thornhill has several public houses. The small Black Horse is in the south. The Scarborough is a medium-sized traditional public house on the edge of Frank Lane. The Flatt Top is a small public house on the corner of Albion Road that serves traditionally-brewed local ales. Next to the church is the Savile Arms, which serves a range of traditionally-brewed real ales and regular guest ales. The Alma is closed and was the north of Thornhill. There are also several working men's clubs.


Thornhill is home to the Thornhill Trojans [9] a rugby league team who are currently in the National Conference League Premier Division. [10] The area also boasts several football teams Overthorpe Sports who play in the West Riding County Amateur League (Premier Division) on Saturdays and Overthorpe Town who play in the Heavy Woollen Sunday League (First Division).

The club has recently been awarded FA Charter Standard status as an adult club and has ambitious plans to increase participation in the game in the next three years. Thornhill United is located at rectory park. There are several rugby league youth teams. The Thornhill rugby club, located in Overthorpe Park, houses the changing rooms for the local rugby and football teams.

Community facilities open to the public include a football pitch, rugby pitch and basketball court, a mini rugby pitch frequently used by the rugby club itself for the under tens junior team and the new sports hall, with the Multi-Use Games Area located at the local secondary school (the Community Science College at Thornhill).

Thornhill is home to the Savile Bowmen, an archery club that shoots at Thornhill Cricket and Bowls Club. [11] Three tennis courts are situated next to Thornhill Cricket and Bowls Club. This is home to Thornhill Tennis Club which currently have two teams in the Huddersfield and District Tennis League.


There are a number of local shops and off-licences in Thornhill and numerous takeaways ranging from traditional English to Italian cuisine. The nearest large supermarkets are in Dewsbury, which is connected by public transport. The area has two post offices with limited services. Overthorpe Post Office has recently undergone building work and is now part of the Onestop franchise. Other shops and services include a florist, dental surgery, beauty salon, a computer repair shop, a tattoo studio, a fish and chip shop and a couple of Indian takeaways.

Survey of English Dialects site

The area was also covered by the Survey of English Dialects owing to the belief that it was a hotbed of Yorkshire dialect. [12] A 2005 study compared the 1964 Thornhill recording with a recording from nearby Ossett in 1999. [13]

Church protests

St. Michael and all Angels St Michael and All Angels, Thornhill 2 (4172381068).jpg
St. Michael and all Angels

In 2014 there were protests after items were removed from gravestones at Thornhill Parish Church, under the orders of the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales. [14]

Notable people

Related Research Articles

Batley Town in West Yorkshire, England

Batley is a market town in the Metropolitan Borough of Kirklees, West Yorkshire, England. It lies 7 miles (11 km) south-east of Bradford, 7 miles (11 km) south-west of Leeds and 1 mile (2 km) north of Dewsbury, near the M62 motorway. Historically in the West Riding of Yorkshire, in 2011 its two wards had a combined population of 38,573. Other nearby towns include: Morley to the north-east, Ossett to the south-east and Brighouse west-south-west.

Brighouse Town in West Yorkshire, England

Brighouse is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Calderdale, in West Yorkshire, England. Historically within the West Riding of Yorkshire, it is situated on the River Calder, 4 miles (6.4 km) east of Halifax. It is served by Junction 25 of the M62 motorway and Brighouse railway station on the Caldervale Line and Huddersfield Line. In the town centre is a mooring basin on the Calder and Hebble Navigation. The United Kingdom Census 2001 gave the Brighouse / Rastrick subdivision of the West Yorkshire Urban Area a population of 32,360. The Brighouse ward of Calderdale Council gave a population of 11,195 at the 2011 Census.

Dewsbury Human settlement in England

Dewsbury is a historic market, minster and mill town in West Yorkshire, England in the Metropolitan Borough of Kirklees.

Elland Town in West Yorkshire, England

Elland is a market town in Calderdale, in the county of West Yorkshire, England. It is situated south of Halifax, by the River Calder and the Calder and Hebble Navigation. Elland was recorded as Elant in the Domesday Book. The town's name is derived from the Old English meaning 'land by the water, river or land partly or wholly surrounded by water'. It had a population in 2001 of 14,554, with the ward being measured at 11,676 in the 2011 Census.

West Bretton Village and civil parish in West Yorkshire, England

West Bretton is a village and civil parish in the City of Wakefield in West Yorkshire, England. It lies 7 miles (11 km) from Wakefield, 8 miles (13 km) from Barnsley, 9 miles (14 km) from Dewsbury, and 11 miles (18 km) from Huddersfield, close to junction 38 of the M1 motorway. It has a population of 546, reducing to 459 at the 2011 Census.

Wakefield City in West Yorkshire, England

Wakefield is a cathedral city in the District of Wakefield in West Yorkshire, England, on the River Calder and the eastern edge of the Pennines, which had a population of 99,251 at the 2011 census.

Mirfield Town and civil parish in West Yorkshire, England

Mirfield is a town and civil parish in Kirklees, West Yorkshire, England. Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, it is on the A644 road between Brighouse and Dewsbury. At the 2011 census it had a population of 19,563.

Ossett Human settlement in England

Ossett is a market town within the metropolitan district of the City of Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England. Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, it is halfway between Dewsbury, to the west, and Wakefield, to the east. At the 2011 Census, the population was 21,231.

Methley village in West Yorkshire, UK

Methley is a dispersed village in the City of Leeds metropolitan borough, south east of Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. It is located near Rothwell, Oulton, Woodlesford, Mickletown and Allerton Bywater. The Leeds City Ward is called Kippax and Methley. It is within the triangle formed by Leeds, Castleford and Wakefield, and between the confluence of the River Aire and River Calder. The latter is crossed by Methley Bridge, the A639 road, about a mile south-east of the village.

Netherton, Wakefield Human settlement in England

Netherton is a village in the City of Wakefield metropolitan borough of West Yorkshire, England. It lies about 4 miles south-west of Wakefield, 3 miles south of Ossett, 1 mile south of Horbury. The village is in the Wakefield Rural ward of Wakefield Metropolitan District Council. The village name "Nether Shitlington" was changed to Netherton sometime after 1855. The h was dropped from Shitlington and Sitlington was adopted in 1929 with the approval of the county council.

Emley, West Yorkshire Human settlement in England

Emley is a village in West Yorkshire, England between Huddersfield and Wakefield with a population of 1,867. It is 6.4 miles (10 km) east of Huddersfield and 7.1 miles (11 km) west of Wakefield. The village dates from Anglo-Saxon times and is on high ground, close to the Emley Moor transmitting station.

The Wakefield and District Football Association League is a football competition based in Yorkshire, England. It has a total of three divisions headed by the Premier Division, which sits at level 14 of the English football league system. It is a feeder to the West Yorkshire Association Football League. Horbury Town, Garforth Rangers, Rothwell, Thornes, and Thornhill were the most recent teams to move up from the league. Horbury, Garforth & Rothwell (2010) and Thornhill (2013) chose to play their football in the West Yorkshire League whereas Thornes (2013) went into the West Riding County Amateur League.

Thornhill Trojans

Thornhill Trojans are an amateur rugby league club situated in Thornhill, West Yorkshire; they currently compete in the National Conference League.

Savile Town suburb of Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, England

Savile Town is a suburb of Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, England, lying just to the south of the River Calder and just north of a railway line.

Agbrigg Suburb of Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England

Agbrigg is a suburb of the city of Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England.

Halifax, West Yorkshire Minster town in West Yorkshire, England

Halifax is a minster town in the Metropolitan Borough of Calderdale in West Yorkshire, England. Historically in the West Riding of Yorkshire, the town has been a centre of woollen manufacture from the 15th century onward, originally dealing through the Piece Hall. Halifax is known for Mackintosh's chocolate and toffee products including Rolo and Quality Street. The Halifax Bank was also founded and is still headquartered in Halifax. Dean Clough, one of the largest textile factories in the world at more than 12 mile (800 m) long, was in the north of the town. The premises have since been converted for office and retail use including a gym, theatre, Travelodge and radio station.

Thornhill Hall is a ruined medieval manor house on a moated island located in Rectory Park, Thornhill, West Yorkshire, England. The ruins are listed as grade II. and the moat, with the surrounding grounds, is a scheduled monument.

Sitlington, historically Shitlington, was a township in the ancient ecclesiastical parish of Thornhill in the wapentake of Agbrigg and Morley in the West Riding of Yorkshire comprising the villages and hamlets of Middlestown, Netherton, Overton and Midgley. The h was dropped from Shitlington and Sitlington was adopted in 1929 with the approval of the county council. The population of the civil parish at the 2011 census was 5,963.

Dennis Trotter was an English professional rugby league footballer who played in the 1970s and 1980s. He played at club level for Bradford Northern, as a second-row, i.e. number 11 or 12.


  1. Open Domesday Online: Thornhill (Yorkshire)
  2. 1 2 Lewis, Samuel (1848), "Thornhill St Michael", A Topographical Dictionary of England, British History Online, pp. 335–337, retrieved 10 October 2010
  3. Will of Sir John Savile, J. W. Clay, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 1920
  4. B. Nuttall, A History of Thornhill, 1970.
  5. Historic England. "RUINS OF THE MEDIEVAL THORNHILL HALL IN MOATED ENCLOSURE, IN RECTORY GROUNDS  (Grade II) (1134729)". National Heritage List for England . Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  6. Thornhill CP/AP, Vision of Britain , retrieved 3 July 2018
  7. "Protests continue against church which removed graveside mementoes". Bately and Birstall News. 16 August 2014. Archived from the original on 30 March 2018.